E-commerce festive campaigns: Big bet on small towns this year

From regional brand ambassadors to revamped online experience to shopping via WhatsApp, e-tailers are trying hard to connect with Bharat to drive next phase of growth

e4m by Kanchan Srivastava
Published: Sep 15, 2022 8:48 AM  | 6 min read

Amazon India’s ‘Great Indian Festival’, Flipkart’s ‘Big Billion Days’ and Meesho’s  ‘Mega Blockbuster Sale’ are being rolled out on the same day-September 23, marking the commencement of the aggressive shopping season. 

Interestingly, this time around, the e-commerce majors are focusing a lot on consumers of smaller towns and rural parts of the country. 

Meesho, for instance, has created a total of 12 films shot in Hindi, Tamil and Bengali and further amplified in other regional languages like Marathi, Malayalam, Kannada, Telugu and Gujarati. “Through these films, Meesho aims to showcase how shopping on the company’s app mirrors the enjoyable, real-world experience of physical markets. The campaign will be promoted across TV, print, digital, social and WhatsApp,” Megha Agarwal, CXO User Growth, Meesho, tells e4m. 

The WhatsApp campaign primarily aims to target the consumers of Bharat who can easily shop through the popular communication platform. 

Agarwal adds, “Meesho has also brought onboard regional actors like Rashmika Mandana, Trisha Krishnan, Karthi Sivakumar, and Ram Charan along with Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone, Kapil Sharma, Rohit Sharma and Sourav Ganguly as celebrity partners. They all are relatable figures for most Indians, have a pan-India fan following as well as very strong regional presence in deeper parts of Bharat.”

Flipkart, meanwhile, ahead of its Big Billion Days, launched an ‘Autumn Winter fashion collection’ along with #NewForYou campaign targeting metro as well as tier 2-3-4-5 customers. 

“As fashion consciousness gains momentum across the country, we continue to bridge the gap between metros and Tier ll+ regions by enabling a seamless fashion shopping experience, '' Abhishek Maloo, Senior Director, Flipkart Fashion, had said in August while launching the campaign. 

Flipkart also plans to provide a revamped shopping experience for the upcoming festive season through several technology-led features such as image search and video cataloging to simplify the product discovery journey for customers and to overcome vernacular and linguistic barriers. 

Amazon India has begun live commerce sessions on its app, starting with the fashion category, like Flipkart did in February. Live commerce is believed to be more user-friendly. 

Stepping up their efforts, a few online grocery platforms like Swiggy Instamart and Zepto have launched night delivery services as well, starting with select markets. 

For all ecommerce players, the upcoming sales events are crucial after two subdued years and muted sales in the first quarter of the current fiscal year due to inflation and weak consumer sentiments. 

Brands in the e-commerce space are also stepping up their marketing efforts to cash in on the festive mood and buying spirits of Indians. 

Online furniture marketplace Pepperfry, for instance, which has roped in actors Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor as brand ambassadors, will increase its AdEx by 15-20 per cent this festive season, Naveen Murali, VP and head of marketing of the company told e4m. 

“While work from home added to our sales during the pandemic, Indians are upgrading their homes with new furniture now as they look forward to celebrating the festivals again with their extended families and friends,” says Murali. 

Soumali Chakraborty, Head of Marketing - Arrow at Arvind Fashions Limited, says, “After two subdued years, festive shopping, especially fashion and apparel, is definitely on the consumer’s radar. Accordingly, our ad expenditure has been mapped to effectively communicate these offerings and innovative product-led stories to our consumers.”

Online festive sales may touch $11.8 billion: Report

E-commerce retailers are expected to garner sales of $11.8 billion in gross merchandise value (GMV) during this year’s festive season, up 28% year-on-year, according to a latest report by consultancy firm Redseer. 

“A large part of these sales will come from urban areas, however, new user acquisition is largely coming from tier 2, 3, 4 and 5 cities. E-commerce players have a close eye on such consumers and have come up with facilities like WhatsApp transactions. Youtube has also integrated WhatsApp. More than 50 per cent transitions come from rural areas, but volume-wise urban India rules,” says Rathore. 

Interestingly, e-commerce sales have not been impacted even as the markets are fully open now. Amazon India reported a 30% increase in revenue at its five units—marketplace, transportation, internet, data and payments—for the year ended 31 March. 

“Online sales volume and order frequencies both have rather gone up because consumers are now used to online shopping,” says Shashank Rathore, Head of e-commerce, interactive Avenues - a Reprise Network Company. 

Kumar Awanish, Chief Growth Officer, Cheil India, agrees with Rathore. “Hinterland consumers have already opened doors for e-commerce platforms hence their growth is natural. The rest of the macro factors are temporary headwinds but the heart of the matter is that the next wave of growth will come from the hinterlands or in other words from the belly of the country. People have experienced e-commerce and the ease of buying. They have gotten used to it. They would want to explore it more often,” Awanish explained. 

E-tailers’ AdEx will go up: Experts

Increasing sales, the addition of many new D2C platforms and projection of 28 per cent higher sales this festive season are clear indications that e-tailers would increase their advertising spends as well. 

The E-commerce sector has emerged as the second largest contributor to India’s advertising expenditure, doubling in size from Rs 3,000 crore to Rs 6,000 crore in the last one year only, says Pitch Madison Annual Report 2022.

Their share in India’s total AdEx touched 13 per cent in 2021 as compared to 8.5 per cent in 2020. Experts predict that it could further grow in 2022. 

Quoting an internal study conducted by an IPG group company Magna, Shashank Rathore, predicts, “Share of e-commerce AdEx in India’s total AdEx could go up to 20 per cent in 2022.”

“Their contribution this year should be in the range of 16 per cent to 19 per cent. It would be a distant second after FMCG, since the gap between them will almost be 2X,” says Kumar Awanish, Chief Growth Officer, Cheil India. 

According to Awanish, “The next two months are going to be the lifeline for any and every e-commerce platform because of the festival season.  It is going to be the largest value and volume driver for them. AdEx during this period will be around 30 per cent to 35 per cent of their annual spends.”

The major chunk of the growth will be cornered by the grocery, apparel and consumer electronics category.

E-commerce business in India

The e-commerce sector in India is currently valued over USD 100 billion. It is expected to reach $350 billion by 2030 from $45-50 billion now, RedSeer said in its 2021 report. 

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McDonald’s banks on ‘Festivals Make Families’ theme for new campaign

The concept is engaging and helps the ad stand out, say experts

By e4m Desk | Oct 12, 2022 1:51 PM   |   2 min read


Festive season is at its peak and McDonald’s has released a new campaign ‘Festivals Make Families’. The campaign has captured a family celebrating Diwali and they are cherishing moments that bring families together.

The ad reminds us about cravings for a burger on auspicious occasions like Diwali. DDB Mudra has designed the ad film in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, and Kannada.


Pallavi Chakravarti, Creative Head, DDB Mudra, says: “McDonald’s is set out to explore the train of thought in a festive campaign that is an ode to families across the country- or the world, for that matter.”

The film begins with a young member of the family capturing family moments. The entire family is celebrating the Diwali festival, performing rituals, dressing in new clothes, and dancing to usual festive songs. The narrator keeps wondering why are festivals celebrated with such pomp every year.

GM & Head of Department, McDonald’s India, Sulaksha Mukherjee shares, “The film is so relatable and nostalgic. Festivals bring our fondest memories to life, which is why we wait for each one of them. It’s time to relive them.”

Arvind R P, director of marketing and communications, at McDonald’s India (west and south) says, “Through this ad film, we intend to capture how McDonald’s Meals play a pivotal role in making family times memorable. We believe this campaign strikes a chord with families.” 

According to brand consultant Samit Sinha, “If we consider how McDonald’s traditionally positioned globally, we will see that the brand has always been about families, espousing the idea of families having fun around food.”

On the execution of the ad, Singh says, “The novelty of the idea and its execution, the relevance of the theme, and an engaging concept is what makes a brand stand out in the clutter.”

“They have been using the same formula of promoting a fun and an inexpensive food experience for the family that has worked for them over the years in every market. There is no need for them to reinvent the wheel,” he added.



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This Diwali will be good if not great, says industry

Industry observers note that while the global economy is facing a slowdown, the Indian festive market won’t face a significant setback due to the positive consumer sentiment

By Sonam Saini | Oct 12, 2022 8:48 AM   |   5 min read

Festive season

Advertisers are all set to up AdEx by almost 20% for this festive season quarter, industry observers have pretty unanimously noted. The demand in sales across categories has been significantly high considering this festive season comes after two years of the Covid-imposed lull.

However, the economic situation globally has not been very encouraging with financial watchdogs and international bodies like the IMF throwing in words of caution about an impending global recession.

So, has this dampened the domestic festive season? We asked industry leaders. While most said that it was going great as expected, others feared the global downturn, the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict and rising fuel prices may have an impact on festive spending. This Diwali will be good if not great, industry experts said.

Talking about the impact of inflation and slowdown on the growth of Indian AdEx at the recently-held e4m Confluence, GroupM South Asia CEO, Prasanth Kumar, shared that there was inflationary pressure on the economy. While some categories have been spending, others have changed their strategy.

“All these challenges also give you an opportunity to think much harder about how you can find solutions to this. My bets are still on India and I think we have a fantastic opportunity. We have adapted to newer ways of looking at things. The entire marketing aspect and looking at solutions for businesses took off. A lot of patience and resilience is required to understand each of the momentums. Maybe there are impacts of different seasons and quarters which could be changing. Those are the aspects that we need to think of,” Kumar noted.

The industry does seem to have taken up the challenge well as we have been seeing a significant number of new ad campaigns and product releases across categories since the beginning of the festive period.

Throwing in a word of caution, Jai Lala, CEO of Zenith India, says: “Even though India is doing very well, there will be some impact.”   

Apart from the economic slump, Lala said the second challenge was the fact that venture capitalist were holding back on funding. I am not saying Diwali will be a slowdown but it probably won't be a great one.”

Dispelling all signs of worry, Dinesh Singh Rathod, CEO of Madison Media Omega, said the festive season will be great for the industry. The only difference he identified between this year and the years before was that traditional advertisers were far more prevalent than new-age clients.

“It's not like that new age clients are completely off but they are not investing with the same intensity as they used to do before. Everyone is looking at sustainability and profitability and I guess given that they are not in the investment mode they have cut down their spending and hence you won't see much of these categories.”

When discussing the effects of the global downturn on the festive season, he recalled that even in 2008, right after the Lehman Brothers crisis hit, India's festive season did not see a decline. “Indian tradition and festivals are all about buying new stuff so brands definitely want to get a share of the wallet and therefore they will be creating awareness and communicating with the consumers.”

Stating similar thoughts, Innocean Worldwide Communications, Group Director, Sridhar Balasubramanian shared that the festive season looks great for the industry. He shared, “If you see the newspapers, it kind of reminds you of the 2019 scenario. In fact, TV or any other media is flooded. Even some of our brands are facing inventory and page position availability issues at this time. These situations indicate that it's going to be a great festive period,” he shared.

As for Mansi Datta, Chief Client Officer, North and East, Wavemaker India, “Several shocks have hit the world economy already weakened by the pandemic: higher-than-expected inflation worldwide––especially in the United States and major European economies, slowdown in China, reflecting COVID- 19 outbreaks and lockdowns; and further negative spillovers from the war in Ukraine."

However, she noted: "This festive season is expecting the quintessential spenders like FMCG, Consumer Durables and Fintech categories to fire. But some of the categories that were previously big spenders like auto, edtech see a gloomier forecast because of macro conditions." 

Prasanth Kumar too said during e4m Confluence that there were newer categories coming in. “We never thought that there would be FinTech or AdTech, which are contributing so much from an advertising perspective.”

“Finding an opportunity within a challenge is an interesting problem to solve and we are finding these opportunities in a span of every two months. The growth is there and it is constant. There is consistency in the growth story and I think the bet is still on India because we are a very large consuming market. There is room for many more things to be tried not just in different categories but even in media and marketing. I think that will be true for many more years to come. The 2020-30 decade is an interesting one to watch out for,” Kumar noted.

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We see a robust festive season building up: Abhay Pruthi, CRED

Pruthi who leads CRED Commerce speaks to e4m about the company’s new marketplace business for brands and more

By Nilanjana Basu | Oct 11, 2022 11:54 AM   |   5 min read


Fintech company, CRED, started as a reward-based credit card payment application. Amid all the challenges of a pay-later industry, CRED has managed to start a smaller curated commerce platform under the name of CRED Store. They have made it into a curated marketplace for brands to make the most out of loyal consumers.

With the festive season here, Abhay Pruthi who leads CRED Commerce speaks to exchange4media about the establishment of the CRED Store and how they are looking at a very successful festive season this year as brands begin spending through their pockets to make most out of the season.

Could you tell us a little about the CRED Store and how it functions?

CRED Store, launched in 2020, is a curated marketplace with a member-exclusive selection of products and experiences at member-only prices that complement your taste. CRED store provides a platform to D2C, homegrown, and established brands to create discovery and the opportunity to experiment with new brands and innovative products for CRED’s premium member base. Built on a zero-commission model, the Store has on-boarded over 1000 brands and 5000 products. Members can purchase directly on the app using a combination of their CRED coins and cash.

The store offers value to businesses by providing them access to the top 1% of the community who contribute to a significant share of commerce expenditure. This is an attractive proposition to brands who can create focussed engagements for a digital community of high-value customers. With Store, brands have the option to drive trials for their products amongst CRED members and offer them exclusive or limited-edition products to earn loyalty. Some of the brand partners we work with include Bombay Shaving Company, MCaffeine, Kama Ayurveda, WOW and Moms Co, among others.

What was the idea behind the CRED Store?

The idea was to provide a seamless and fulfilling shopping experience for CRED members, who are the top 1% of premium customers and contribute to a significant share of commerce expenditure. The store is designed to offer rewarding shopping experiences on the app, where members can purchase unique, handpicked, and curated products and experiences. The store brings niche and established brands across wellness and grooming, electronics, food and beverage, and more at the best prices reserved exclusively for members.

How many brands does it have now and could you name some of the big ones you are partnered with? What are your ways to engage with brands?

CRED store offers around 1000+ brands and 5000+ products across various categories. This includes new-age brands like Bombay Shaving Company, MCaffeine, The Man Company, Moms Co, The Whole Truth, Blue Tokai, 4700 BC, Vahdam, Third Wave Coffee, Skyvik, Wingreens, Nutella etc., and others. The Store also offers other luxury brands, including Bulgari and Tommy Hilfiger. Since launching the zero-commission initiative for the CRED partners, we have waived off listing fees for onboarding and commissions from any sale for all brand partners to build trust & be their partners in growth.

Do give us an insight into the festive season and how the traction has been so far on CRED Store.

On CRED Store, during our Independence Day sale event, we created an exciting shopping experience in collaboration with brand partners. This included offering members a quality-first curation across categories that was refreshed daily, along with shoptainment formats like raffles with marquee brands and interesting deals. As a result, we were able to drive significantly high order volume for brand partners like TagZ, Hammer, Zoff etc, doing 40k-50k transactions in a day with one product. Curated e-commerce platforms allow D2C brands to compete more effectively alongside legacy brands- earning them audience attention and engagement at a depth that would not be feasible through paid customer acquisition on traditional channels.

We see a robust festive season building up. For the retail industry, the festive season is an important opportunity for maximum transactions and engagement with the customers. During this time, consumers’ discretionary spending increases owing to festive shopping and gifting. The August RBI report also states that the consumer demand this festive season will see an uptick, indicating that shopping on e-commerce too will witness a boost.

What kind of consumer engagement does CRED see with the store and what is the next focus and expansion plans for it?

CRED store drives engagement for members by building discovery and engaging fun social formats to shop and value deals. CRED members get access to best price guarantees, exclusive products, curated offers, and rewards in exchange for their CRED coins. Discovery initiatives like shopping festivals, CRED Drops events at the beginning of every month, category curations (CRED Tea Room, Coffee Store, Luxury Collection), and engagement constructs like jackpots provide a platform for members to interact with the Store and brands extensively.

What more product line-up does CRED have for the next year?

We are constantly experimenting with new products to add to our platform, enabling members to shop from a trusted ecosystem that lets them filter out bad quality products or high prices without many intermediaries. We work directly with 100% of brands to curate products & perks exclusively for our members. This allows members to save, spend, and grow their money responsibly. Freshness is key to the store, and we keep launching new products daily to drive trends and introduce new concepts snf quality products that otherwise get unnoticed in search-first marketplaces.

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Festive focus: E-comm players working on maximising reach in tier cities

Flipkart and Amazon have recorded a significant jump in engagement from rural areas since the beginning of the festive sale season

By Nilanjana Basu | Oct 11, 2022 9:09 AM   |   4 min read


The end of September and the beginning of October saw huge sales and offers by major e-commerce players like Amazon and Flipkart. More than 60% of customer engagement was achieved from the country’s Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities.

According to Flipkart, it recorded over 1 billion customer visits during the festive days. On the other hand, there were 35 million app downloads in the run-up to The Big Billion Days. Amazon.in also saw the single-largest day of Prime sign-ups; 1.9X higher than last year. Interestingly, Amazon and Flipkart saw the largest uptick in sales from the smaller cities, and the players are now working towards marketing the big sales in those areas as well.

“To reach out to Tier-2 and beyond cities and help customers discover the wide selection on Flipkart, more than 150 million personalized and curated WhatsApp messages were shared with Flipkart shoppers. Additionally, 10 million personalized video messages in Hindi and English were sent, featuring Alia Bhatt, addressing users by their name and sharing a sneak peek into the best of offers on fashion and lifestyle products; 38% of these customers visited the app to know more,” Flipkart has said.

Flipkart has been serving customers in remote areas like Khonsa in Arunachal Pradesh. Port Blair, Medinipur, Bankura, Puri and Bhagalpur are among the top 10 Tier-3 cities from where Flipkart’s customers shopped the most.

Manjari Singhal, Senior Director – Customer, Growth, and Events, Flipkart, said, “This Big Billion Days has already fostered immense growth opportunities for our sellers, brands, transport and kirana delivery partners, with the help of bespoke financial offerings accessible on the platform, better revenue-generating avenues for them, and expanded reach across the nation.”

Meanwhile, Amazon has continued to focus on the customer backwards approach, to enable the next 500 million customers to come online. They leveraged innovations across Voice, Video, Language, AI and Machine Learning to make Amazon accessible to hundreds of millions of new customers.

“In the first 36 hours, more than 60% of sales for Amazon Fashion came from Tier 2 and 3 cities from customer favourite brands; small and medium businesses, start-ups, artisans, and women entrepreneurs offering the largest selection of products. Amazon.in saw the single largest day of Prime sign-ups; 1.9X higher than last year with 68% coming from Tier 2 and 3 cities,” Noor Patel, Vice President, Amazon India, told e4m.

Amazon also levied a number of marketing strategies to lure customers to its biggest sale of the year. As a part of the Amazon Great Indian Festival 2022, Amazon India introduced the Diamonds festive rewards program. A one-time “Bonus Diamonds” was credited to all customers basis their past shopping on Amazon.in. "Prime Extra Bonus Diamonds" was credited to Prime Customers for their shopping during Kickstarter Deals days. Of the customers redeeming their Diamonds, 50% have redeemed for offers and rewards.

Sharing insights on the festive season, Patel said, “This year’s festive season will be a bit more special to us as we return closer to normalcy. We look forward to welcoming our customers to the marketplace and enjoying the festivities. Amazon Great India Festival will offer customers the option to shop from India’s largest selection across electronics, grocery, fashion and beauty, everyday essentials, and more. This festive season we will continue to maximize seller and partner success and deliver customer satisfaction across the country.  We continue to invest in building a seamless consumer experience and to empower Indian SMBs with digital transformation and infrastructure helping them reach all serviceable pin codes in the country.”

Karan Taurani of Elara Capital shared more insights into the trend. "If you look at penetration numbers of the online retail market or the e-commerce market in India, it is very small, just 12% to 14%. And if you look at global countries, this penetration number goes up to 30% for markets like the U.S. and 40% in markets like China. So, I think there's a huge opportunity to penetrate further in the Indian markets also. When these companies were launched the entire focus earlier was only on metro cities, they would get a large portion of their GMV or the entire sales. But slowly now, they are expanding very aggressively towards the tier two and tier three market."

"There have been very encouraging signs because even their online penetration is increasing phenomenally over the years. Because people have been open to online shopping, a lot of things have happened. People moving online and having access to UPI have changed online shopping demand. There are also a lot of premium brands, which are there in various categories of retail, but may not have stores in the smaller markets. Consumers look for these brands online as the retail store is not accessible."

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Coca-Cola says ‘Milke hi Manegi Diwali’ in festive campaign

The campaign encourages people to celebrate Diwali in person by meeting with their family and friends

By e4m Desk | Oct 8, 2022 7:33 AM   |   2 min read


Kicking off the festive fervor in India, Coca-Cola has unveiled a new #MilkeHiManegiDiwali campaign. The campaign urges its audience to not just ‘greet’ but ‘meet’ their friends and family this festive season.

Commenting on the new campaign, Kaushik Prasad, Director, Marketing, Coca-Cola, said, “Coca-Cola believes that Real Magic happens when people come together, share moments and create lasting memories. Festivals are the perfect occasions to bond with the ones we love and so this Diwali, we want to encourage people to do just that, to meet and not just greet each other and to create memories to cherish for years to come, of course over a chilled Coke. We’re excited to bring this invitation to people through a 360-degree campaign, which we hope will provide a positive nudge for people to come closer together.”

Conceptualized by Ogilvy, the 360-degree campaign will be amplified across television and digital touchpoints for optimized reach. Closer to the festival, Coke will also be unveiling a one-of-a-kind tech-driven product innovation as part of the campaign, which promises to bring people closer, much like the magical bottles depicted in the commercial.

Sukesh Nayak, Chief Creative Officer, Ogilvy India, says, “Real magic happens when we meet in person. And not just online. This Diwali, Coke with its inviting bottles of Coke is doing just that. ‘Gale milke kaho Happy Diwali’ is urging people to do make the effort to meet in person and hug again to really enjoy the real magic in life. The campaign comes alive from packaging, TVC to a full-fledged 360 plan.”

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Real Money Gaming set for a big boom this Diwali

Brands have already increased their spends on gaming and with various other sports tournament lined up the prospects of a good Diwali are brighter, say industry players

By Shantanu David | Oct 4, 2022 8:52 AM   |   5 min read


As the countdown to Diwali speeds up, Indian gaming portals and apps are amped, particularly those that offer Real Money Gaming, as they bet big on customer acquisition through targeted ad campaigns, increased marketing budgets, and reaching out to audiences across different platforms. India is the second largest gaming market in the world now with over 9.33 billion mobile games downloaded in 2022 alone.

According to Harikrishnan Pillai, CEO and co-founder, TheSmallBigIdea, "In the current scheme of things, with an intent to reach out to a specific set of audience, brands have increased their spends on gaming by about 32% in the last one year. India has recorded about 390 million online gamers in 2021, out of which 95 million gamers paid to play. So, the narrative that people who spend time on games are not in a position to purchase is a myth. So, Diwali or no Diwali, it clearly is an interesting advertising option.”

Cricket on the Cards

Indeed, within the RMG space there are a few drivers that stand out: one being cricket and the other being the festive season. Ashish Seth, Creative Head, Optiminastic Media, observes that this time of the year will see both these drivers coincide, which will be exciting to witness as it is likely to create a huge wave of engagement.  

“I am quite looking forward to the fantasy sports campaigns; Dream11, in particular, has stood out for me. They have been running campaigns across channels. I am looking forward to seeing how they utilize the convergence of the two drivers of the RMG space - cricket and the festive season,” says Seth.

Another gaming brand, PlayerzPot is really upbeat about the festive season and is set to engage gamers across its key segments of fantasy sports, skilled casual games, and card games. The current festive season will also witness many live sporting events such as PKL, cricket T20 World Cup, football World Cup and other high-octane sport leagues.

Sunil Yadav, CEO, PlayerzPot, enthuses that the audience is already fond of playing card games and casual games online. “To leverage this enthusiasm, we are coming up with several exciting deposits and bonus offers in all our segments on the platform. Engaging our 1 crore+ users in an unprecedented manner, we will boost our brand reach with an exciting campaign, featuring our new brand ambassador, Rashmika Mandanna,” he says.

As for Vaibhav Odhekar, COO and Co-Founder, POKKT, for the gaming platform, the festive season started around Rakhi / Mid – August and it has been a better-than-expected response from the advertisers.

“This festive season brands are spending more on ads and in-game advertising, as it is capable of converting higher completion rates and engagement as compared to other advertising platforms. Brands have started allocating significant amounts to in-game ads in their media mix,” he says, adding, “We are hopeful that this season will be as beneficial for us as for any other industry. We are expecting to witness growth in our business as brands compete to spend the most on advertising.”

Google’s Play

Another reason gaming platforms, and advertisers, are celebrating is the recent pilot project introduced by Google Play Store, which has finally allowed RMG apps in Rummy and Fantasy Sports categories into its app stores, for a trial period of one year, just in time for the taash season.

However, Pillai cautions that the biggest challenge for advertisers is the ambiguity, lack of or over-regulation as the case may be and the presence of a lot of bogus applications in the space. “There is a need to build trust if the advertising needs to go substantially beyond sponsorship in esports tournaments. Even the recent decision of Google play to look at fantasy sports and rummy, keeps a substantial part of skill-based gaming apps like chess and poker out of the foray,” he says.

That being said, even this small easing of doing business has come as a source of relief for many in the industry. “Because of strict brand safety guidelines being followed at our end for brands and media agencies, this inventory which was otherwise available as APK apps were not available on our platform. We believe this is a good user base for some specific advertisers and something they were missing out on,” Odhekar points out.

“The Indian online skill-gaming industry is in the middle of a constructive transition into a legal, regulated framework. Google Play’s announcement to allow daily fantasy sports and rummy apps in India has unlocked avenues for talented Indian game developers,” says Yadav.

“We are monitoring the pilot project closely and adhering to Google’s instructions. This will help us make our presence felt on Google Store for more effective market penetration. As far as legalization is concerned, we are hoping for a clear, positive, and inclusive framework from the government, which will align and streamline industry operations,” Yadav added.

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‘In the festive season, Wakefit sees 300% growth per month’

Wakefit Co-founder Chaitanya Ramalingegowda talks to e4m about the company’s marketing trajectory, the trust on word of mouth and more

By Nilanjana Basu | Sep 19, 2022 8:37 AM   |   6 min read


Earlier in the day buying furniture meant stepping out of your house, browsing through several shops and doing the necessary bargains to settle up your home. Cut to today’s digital age, shoppers have the luxury of sitting at home and buying furniture of their choice.

Chaitanya Ramalingegowda, Co-founder of furniture and home solutions company Wakefit, spoke to e4m about how the start-up idea for an online furniture company came through, and how it caters to different people of different demographics and geographies across India. 

Ramalingegowda spoke about having a successful festive season for the category and how re-innovation was a success mantra. “One of the other big goals for us over the coming days is to expand into categories that we are not present in and expand the selection in categories where we are already present,” he said speaking about the company’s future.


How and when did Wakefit begin?

Ankit and I started this in late 2015, early 2016. The genesis of the company was because of a very simple observation that we did in the market. Ankit came from the foaming industry, so he knew the per kilo cost of foam and we knew the cost of labour. When he was getting married, he had to go to the market to look for the products to set up his home, he realised that the mattresses are getting sold at a very high cost. My initial instinct was that these companies are very profitable because there's so much of a gap between the cost to produce and the selling price. But a quick look at their financial statements told us it is not true.

We realised all of the difference between the cost and the customer price was going away in channel commissions. This gave us the confidence that there is some room to play here where customers are overpaying by nearly 40 - 45%. We end up saving that and instead of having middlemen, if we are able to sell the product online, customers will get really high-quality products for the true price.

We got started and listed the products on Amazon, and later Flipkart and then about six months later we came up with our own website. That is how the journey started and our confidence to deliver and earn customer trust came into being. We expanded into accessories, and from there to basic furniture and then to complete solutions.

What marketing trajectories have the company followed over the years?

Even to this day, customer word of mouth is a very strong part of why we are growing. But obviously after 18 months, basically somewhere around 2017, we started marketing. Like any company, you start performance marketing first and then you expand into influencers and other on and off viral campaigns. Then you expand into digital branding and last you go into ATL. So that is the typical trajectory that we took, where at each stage, we had to justify to ourselves and to our balance sheet that this is the right marketing mix. So, to reiterate, no marketing where we are fully dependent on word of mouth, then performance marketing, then influencers and viral campaigns, then digital brand new. And lastly above the line, ATL campaigns on television print and so.

The furniture and home solutions category is a very competitive market. So, what makes Wakefit unique in that space?

So, there are two or three things that are simply part of our DNA. And maybe that is a reason they're hard to just copy and replicate overnight. One is the fact that we are constantly pushing the boundaries and innovating on the product. The second big thing that keeps a differentiator for us is our post-sales engagement. There is a fairly large team of people who work on engaging with customers post-sales, checking whether they liked the product and liked the experience. All of this is documented and passed back to the R&D team. This builds a cycle of trust and that's what enables us to maintain a differentiator.

With all of this, you are catering to a very large audience and in different regions. Do you see a difference in the consumer behaviour in different regions and how do you cater to the needs of these different regions across India?

Consumer needs across India and consumer needs across climatic conditions are fairly correlated. For example, there are extremely cold parts of India like Jammu Kashmir and Leh Ladakh, there are extremely dry heat regions like Rajasthan and Hyderabad and there are very humid and hot areas like Mumbai, Chennai and other cities. So, when I said our R&D lab takes care of materials, and structural integrity, they are ensuring that the functionality is unimpacted even over 10 years across all of these very climatic conditions. That is the primary role of R&D. Within that there is another small layer of nuance, which is age. For example, people who are over 60 or 65 may prefer a really, really firm mattress because, for a large part of their life, they've slept on a cotton mattress. Because that generation that's what it used to be. So now we might want a firmer mattress compared to the younger demographic. They might be much more interested in memory foam because that is more exciting. So, there is a geographical angle to preferences and then there is a demographic angle to preferences. The products that we have created cater to these changes in needs.

What are Wakefit’s plans for the festive season and how are you planning to make the most of the season?

This festive season is an opportunity for us to serve a brand-new set of customers. So, just like every year, we have very ambitious goals on how many customers to serve, what is the revenue target and so forth. But at the same time, we also always have an NPS target because revenue with unhappy customers doesn't make any sense. So, we have a growth target as well as we have an NPS target. Usually in the festive season we see over 2.5 to 3x growth on a monthly basis, which means 300% growth on a monthly basis. This season expectations honestly are very similar to the last two years because ours was one of the few categories where the pandemic ended up spurring demand rather than muting demand. Both in Diwali 2020 and Diwali 2021, our category specifically saw a big uptick and we hope even this festive season it will continue to remain the same.


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