How e-commerce can beat the challenge of 'diversity marketing'

At SureWaves Roundtable in collaboration with exchange4media, e-commerce players talk about the battle of 'diversity marketing' and the best media mix they use to manoeuvre the versatile Indian markets

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Published: Aug 14, 2015 9:13 AM  | 9 min read
How e-commerce can beat the challenge of 'diversity marketing'

In a diverse country like India, marketing has its own set of challenges. In addition to creating communication, it becomes critical that diverse set of the audience is also addressed to individually by way of 'Diversity Marketing’. The diversity in cultures, languages, dialects and socio-economic groups pose a unique challenge to today’s marketers to communicate their brand messaging effectively to the target audience with culturally and linguistically nuanced communication.

To address this issue, exchange4media in collaboration with SureWaves, a next-generation media company that is mapping, aggregating and consolidating audiences across diverse consumption markets and consumers across India, through information technology and knowledge tools, held a round table discussion on the topic “Diversity Marketing: The Next Big Challenge for E-Commerce in India”. Moderating the discussion,  Anita Nayyar, CEO, Havas Media Group-India and South Asia got the e-commerce players talking on the challenges faced by them and what media mix they saw best to overcome this challenge.

Speaking on the topic, Vatsala Kothari, Brand Evangelist, Zivame said, “The challenges we face at Zivame is category specific and unique to India because lingerie in India is literally a taboo word. Women couldn’t say the word Bra so we not just had to create awareness about our company but had to create awareness about lingerie as a category itself, break open the category and make it mainstream. Television was most effective to reach out to larger audiences in a bold way where women are actually coming out and saying Bra, Bra, Bra.  We wanted it to be okay first for women to accept the category openly, as the psychology of women is different from the women in the west, because of the environment she has been brought up in. Social media has also worked for us in terms of some campaigns that we have done - how do you spin off content that is still lingerie specific but in a way acceptable to Indian society. That’s been the main challenge - making this category much more mainstream.”



Giving his view on the topic from the perspective of an online classified site, Vineet Sehgal, Chief Marketing Officer, Quikr said, “When Quickr started six years ago there was no concept of buying and selling online. Indians extract the maximum value of their possessions and don’t get rid of their old stuff. An off-line well established ecosystem of dealers took your stuff and gave you value for it. Both of these were barriers. With online providing anonymity, there was trust deficit as the transaction happened online. In the initial phase the need was to build the platform and product and make consumers understand the simplicity of the platform - click a picture, upload it, write a few words and you will find people looking to buy second hand products, and it’s great value for you. Our early advertising and communication was focused on simplicity and targeted at the early internet users. The challenge is how do you drive and break perception that this platform is only for selling old products and how do you drive relevance of the category and change category perceptions, this is not just about selling old stuff but there is so much more that they could do with us. In the first two years we used Digital to build the category. Since the last year and a half we have used Television for its mass reach. In our category you have to stay top of the mind, we are always present offline and use outdoor as a reminder medium. Digital is a big part whether SEM (search engine marketing) or  e-marketing which drives the performance part. Our ratio is 50:50 digital and off-line .We don’t use print unless we are communicating something that would give high impact”


Also speaking on the subject, Kaushik Tiwari, Vice President - Marketing & Communication said, “We have been around for 15 years in this business and when we started people did not understand e-commerce and there was very little internet penetration. The challenge for us is the age old challenge, which is 50% of our spends gives us traction and 50% doesn’t give any results. The problem is to know which 50% works. Ours is a unique model, we are a regional based business so regional television plays a very big role in certain markets. For eg, regional Television is very strong for in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Telegana but when I go east and even in Gujarat, regional Television fails me. In these markets, even social/digital has not penetrated much. For the last year and a half, we have been trying digital networks on video and found this to be doing well. You have to look at the video content for digital in a different way and that is what we did. We didn’t change the core of the brand but got it aligned to the digital audience. The challenge is that digital video media is not so well defined and we don’t get inputs that we need.”

Anshul Khandelwal, VP, Marketing, Bluestone said, ‘We still face the same challenges that we faced when we started three years ago even though we have grown a lot internally. The challenge is still trying hard to break barriers and building trust. Jewellery is a category consumers find hard to trust and so instead of looking at the whole ecosystem, we decided to look at only 5% of the market. This constituted the early adapters who were savvy online. In the last year, we have seen the profile of consumers  change from 25-35 years to 40-50  years. We also could not use mass media reach channels as only one of 100 of the audience was relevant for us so we had to think how to gain efficiency and reach that gives us 50% efficiency. We tried using specific programs, HD channels and this has seemed to work and we saw huge increase in brand awareness, and top of mind scores to move beyond early adopters and achieve huge scale.”

Another new category emerging in recent times is medical care and Kavita Chowkimane, GM, Marketing, Portea Medical spoke of the challenges of getting people online to book their medical care. She said, “When you fall ill, you go to the hospital and our biggest marketing challenge is convincing people that quality health care at home. This is a new concept and convincing people of medical care at home involves breaking psychological barriers. Allowing a new person at home also means changing a set behaviour pattern as to why a person should go with Portea. Our target group is also varied - varied younger decision makers making the decision for their parents, older people who book the services for themselves and the NRI audience who books for their family in India. How do we get a media reach that reaches this group effectively and be scalable to meet the growing demand. Our marketing is predominantly Digital. We also look at tapping into networks who can give us patients who don’t need to stay in hospitals.”

A more recent entrant in the e-commerce space (which deals with modular kitchens and wadrobes) has had a more unique challenge to crack.  Jidesh Haridas, Head of Marketing and Sales, says, “

We know who we are going after – new home/apartment buyers, and we know when they are in the market – three to six months prior to taking possession of their homes. If I don’t catch them in that window space, I lose them. The marketing challenge is in terms of spending a lot of money and an extremely high customer acquisition cost can’t be justified as most have lifetime transaction value of one. We would like to be the destination where consumers go to fit out a new home. A tricky challenge is to create awareness of buying these products online and how do we ensure we reach out to people as we are targeting. While we are currently purely digital, but I don’t believe will be digital only play. We are looking at high targeted offline activations -  tactical off line mix of outdoor and activations but not in spread out manner. It will be  very specific, in the catchment area around the apartments.”

The challenge for a slightly older player in the markets also appears to be similar. Pallavi Chopra - ‎Head of Marketin, says, “We are by far market leaders in this category. The main marketing challenge is category creation - – how to get offline users to come and buy bus tickets online. This still remains a challenge because only 15% of bus booking happen online and there is still a huge potential to grow. While we are strong in the south, we are aggressively targeting the west and testing the media. Our approach has been switch off one media, test the efficacy of it and then move on to another media vertical. This is done so we know which levers to pull  to get what effect. We are also targeting non A/C bookers and women. We are going after the lowest hanging fruit – consumers who are online but not booking tickets online and this has an implications on our media selection. We are aggressive on Digital as it gives good traction but we are lso experimenting with different media. We are a very RoI drive organisation and every dollar spent needs to be linked to incremental business and if I can’t justify a dollar spent, I don’t do it.


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