How Amazon and Flipkart promise to keep your budgets woes at bay this Diwali

Turns out both ecommerce giants are harping on the word 'budget' to expand their reach and bring the next wave of consumers online. But will it work?

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It’s a funny coincidence how this festive season both ecommerce giants- Flipkart and Amazon- are running their large-scaled campaigns themed around a common (shopping) deterrent. That deterrent is budget.

Global ecommerce portal Amazon brought its Great Indian Festival Band on screen and ground with the promise of ‘Ab khushiyon ke beech budget nahi aayega, poora India, Great Indian Festival manayega (now budget will not come in the way of happiness, India will celebrate the Great Indian Festival).’ Meanwhile homegrown marketplace Flipkart, which is flush with $16 billion from US retail giant Walmart, has top celebrities Amitabh Bachchan, Deepika Padukone, Alia Bhatt, Saina Nehwal, Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni etc advising consumers how ‘The Big Billion Days(BBD)’ sale makes them ‘budget se mukt’ (free from budget). Both sales kicked off on October 10.

For Ravi Desai-Director, Mass and Brand Marketing, Amazon India, there is constant endeavour to make “shopping more affordable and within the reach of every family’s festive budget.”

“Customers can save more while shopping and not feel constrained by budgets this season. Our programs such as Amazon Pay EMI, no-cost EMI on Debit & Credit cards & Exchange will make shopping on Amazon.in even more special and valuable,” shares Desai.

Kunal Dubey Director - Brand Marketing + Media Head, Flipkart highlighted the fact that since budget ‘has always been this monster on our back’ it led to ‘Ab India Hoga Budget Se Mukt’ campaign.’

But Flipkart took their campaign a notch higher by leveraging on Indians’ love for bargaining. This is a voice-enabled bargaining experience the portal provides in partnership with Google Zoo on Google Assistant that lets consumer negotiate for different products listed on the online marketplace directly using their voice.

Talking about previous years’ themes, Dubey mentioned of keeping guardrails for BBD. He shares, “These are: it needs to be colloquial, it needs to match the stature of BBD and its scale, and it needs to solve people's shopping needs. In 2016 – ‘Itne Main Itnaaa Milega’ (when the norm is itne main sirf itna hi milta hai) and in 2017 it was ‘Ab mehengaai giregi’ (when inflation is the one thing that the nation cribs about). In both these cases we presented campaign ideas where our intention was to see how we could come up with something that showcases that during BBD the value of the money goes up. Rs 100 should look like Rs 1000.”

Tapping the hinterlands

It’s a no brainer that the next wave of economic growth for brands is coming from the hinterlands as India’s metropolitan consumer reach is nearing a saturation point. Also, ecommerce is the default shopping mode only in big cities which explains its tiny 2-4 per cent contribution to India’s retail sector.   

Amazon and Flipkart are on course to change that and bring their next billion consumers online. This clearly explains Flipkart’s strategy of roping in regional stars, namely Prosenjit (Bengali), Tammannah Bhatia (Tamil), Mahesh Babu (Telugu), Yash (Kannada) and Mahesh Manjrekar (Marathi) in their commercials in order to catch the attention of consumers in regional markets. It has been pursuing aggressive 360 degree marketing strategy for its fifth edition of BBD with couple of hundred TVCs and few million digital videos apart from OOH, print and radio.

On the other hand, Desai shared that like previous year Amazon is following ‘a two-pronged strategy targeting the Rest of India and the South separately.’ So there lies the expectation of a significant jump in the number of consumers from these region. He shares, “In this campaign as well Amazon.in has picked up something that is peculiarly Indian, a band, which is symbol of celebration and happiness across India. With this campaign, Amazon.in hopes to welcome millions of new customers and have also launched a Hindi app as a red carpet to them.”

Flipkart and Amazon are expected to record sales of $2.5-3 billion during the five-day event this year, according to Redseer estimates. Only time will tell if the Indian arm of the global ecommerce portal will be able to edge past its Indian-based rival that has been forging ahead during festive sales for the past two years.

Expert speak

Brand experts feel confident that the ecommerce giants will be able to get the tier-II and III geographies to shop online. For Harish Bijoor, Founder, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc, Flipkart already has its ‘early set of customers in its kitty’ from urban markets (who have already been reached out through digital). “As far as new customers (also the next level of tier-II towns) are concerned they have to be reached out through traditional media. It’s essentially a ladder which ecommerce companies will use going forward.”

N Chandramouli, CEO, TRA, says, “Each one is advertising the category more than themselves. Having said that Flipkart will stand out for sure for the icons they have used.”

Kiran Khalap, Co-founder & MD, Chlorophyll, points out that more than the content of advertising is their preparedness to deliver on-ground. He adds, “This they have attempted through assisted e-commerce, where local retail shops help rural consumers choose from Amazon catalogues, place the order on-line and then fulfill the order. (Amazon announced that they now reach all 19100 pin code areas in India).”

For Khalap a lot still remains to be done. He points out where they lag, “What the e-commerce companies have not been able to cope in communication is local language communication: 95 per cent of video consumption online is in Indian languages and voice-based search has grown by 270 per cent. So the advertising campaigns are the tip of ice-berg. e-commerce giants will have to work hard to customise content (even web sites and catalogues) to local tastes and new voice-based users.”

 

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