"If we are useful to consumers, they will reward us with patronage"

LK Gupta, CMO of redBus talks about the online bus ticketing segment in India, redBus’ business model and reasons behind launching its first ever mktg campaign

e4m by Twishy
Updated: May 10, 2013 8:23 PM
"If we are useful to consumers, they will reward us with patronage"

Luxury bus ticketing market in India is worth $3 billion (around Rs 15,000 – 16,000 crore) with the online space occupying less than 10 per cent. Bus ticketing is one of the fastest growing online segments and it is estimated to grow at 25-30 per cent. There is immense untapped power within the category but there are very few organised players in the segment.

In a failed attempt to catch a bus home, redBus CEO, Phanindra Sama, founded the bus ticketing company that offers online booking. It has an estimated share of around 60 per cent in the market. RedBus faces competition from many new players such as Mantis (Travelyaari), AbhiBus and SimplyBus.

Bus travellers belong to all age groups and occupations so the target group ranges from students and young IT professionals in large cities to families and businessmen who travel inter-city and inter-state for their work. redBus sold tickets worth Rs 575 crore last fiscal, and plans to cross Rs 1000 crore in FY 2013-14. In order to chart out its next stage of growth enabled by consumer marketing, Pilani Soft Labs, the company behind RedBus bus ticketing service, brought on board LK Gupta of LG Electronics India as Chief Marketing Officer.

Gupta, who has spent five years at LG, rebuilding the brand to improve the aspirational quotient of LG, is no stranger to the digital world. In conversation with exchange4media, Gupta talks at length about the business model, recent tie-ups and reasons for launch of the ad campaign.

Transition into his new role
My consumer marketing experience is helping me define the brand redBus well, and insightfully figure out how to best communicate and create branded propositions at various stages of the consumer decision journey. It is important to remember that regardless of what products we sell, if we are useful to the consumer, he will automatically reward us with his patronage. This is truer than ever in the e-commerce space.

Monetising the business model
redBus works by aggregation of seat inventory available with 1000+ bus operators. Consumers who visit our website or call us have access to lakhs of bus seats on any given day, and they buy tickets through us because of the width and of information and choice provided. We accept payment online, and then pass it along to the operators after deducting our commission. We do not have any advertisers on our website as of now.

Tapping the unorganised segment
The key is in providing ample choice and transparent information via our website and call centres. There are enough and more people who are using the online medium to look for information and even making purchases of various goods and services. So, the important thing is to make them aware of the excellent services provided with the choice and intelligent options available on our site.

Tie-ups with different players
We have seat inventories available from 1000+ operators, both private and state transport that gives us access to the largest number of seats in the country. Among the state RTCs, we have tied up with are Karnataka, Rajasthan, Goa and Bihar.

Reasons for launching the ad campaign
Till now our company has been working hard to encourage bus operators to computerise their inventory handling and make it available online for consumers. Now that it is achieved to a very large extent, it makes sense to communicate directly with consumers to make bus ticket booking a more mass phenomenon. The insight behind the campaign is simple – people do not always have full information about buses and operators, the seat availability and how to choose what is best for them; redBus lays out all the available seat inventory with full information about operators and buses so that consumers do not have to worry about their journey. They can just make their plan, book tickets and go! This is succinctly captured in our advertising line ‘When You Gotta Go, You Gotta Go!’ The campaign will run for two months and has been conceptualised and created by Lowe Lintas & Partners.

We’re advertising on most major regional channels of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. In addition, there are certain national channels like news channels, infotainment and lifestyle.

Digital media advertising is an important cornerstone in our communication strategy. We will be quite active on display advertising, social media and search marketing.

Competition from rival players
At this stage, as a leader in the category, our main job is to expand the category rather than worry about market share of others. The more the merrier!

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