E-commerce company Flipkart, one of the first successful startups in India, is now looking at acquiring new users and growing the market with personalised digital marketing push, to widen its lead against rival Amazon.
“The BBD sale was the only big sale event online when we started. Now it is more of festive season sale, given many other players offer the same. In this scenario, we need to cut through the clutter and innovate ways to reach out to our potential users,” Flipkart’s director for marketing, Kartikeya Bhandari told Moneycontrol.
It started with the Big 10 sale Flipkart organised earlier this year, commemorating 10 years of active operation. The plan to push marketing on the digital medium for Flipkart was mooted over a year ago after the company CEO Kalyan Krishnamurthy mandated the marketing team to deliver maximum impact with minimum spends.
For the last BBD sale Flipkart cut down its marketing spends by almost one-third, riding on the reach of social media. For the fourth Big Billion Day sale Flipkart is going after innovation than cutting costs.
Besides the popular kid-adult television commercials doing the rounds, albeit on a much lower frequency than a year ago, Flipkart has also tied up with the leading US-based video personalization platform Adgreetz to push contextual advertisement.
Adgreetz, popular for its association with companies like McDonals, Etihad, HBO, and Warner Brothers, has created over 100,000 personalized videos targeted at 60 different customer categories that Flipkart has identified based on geography, browsing pattern, payment behaviour, and so on.
The e-tailer has over 100 million registered customers, and over 70 per cent of its business comes from the mobile app.
Flipkart has also entered into soft agreements with the Mumbai local, and a couple of airlines – Indigo and Spicejet – for in-flight announcement of the BBD sale, targeting its most profitable markets, the Mumbai-Delhi corridor.
“The biggest concern currently is inflation and prices going up. We wanted to be relevant and send across a message that would mean something to buyer shopping on Flipkart. So we went ahead with the messaging ‘ab mehengai giregi’,” Bhandari said.
Bhandari did not elaborate on how much cost advantage Flipkart will offer its users, but the BBD sale is expected to offer up to 90 percent discount on smartphones, televisions, and refrigerators. Flipkart instead brought together personalities such as Jose Covaco, Mallika Dua, Rahul Subramanium, and Karan Talwar, for a Facebook Live to reveal deal offers through a game of dumb charades.
“The idea was to pitch to users where they are not jaded with advertisements. It’s unexpected, so people sit up and take notice. We have seen a lot of positive feedback from users on social media,” Bhandari explained.
Last year, Flipkart had done a similar program on Facebook 360 videos, which garnered 2 million views in a single day. In the Big 10 sale, the e-commerce company managed to get 80 percent of the reach it recorded with its last BBD sale, riding on the social media push. The traffic on Flipkart’s website was also higher by 14 percent for the Big 10 sale, compared to the BBD sale, so much so that it was trending second to Bahubali on Twitter.
Flipkart’s push on personalised ads and digital media push signals a new thought process emerging, which goes beyond discounting. In 2015, the e-commerce players went all out to advertise their sale periods and frequent discount seasons, trying to woo customers to shop online. They would typically spend almost 80 percent of the marketing spend on TV and print ads.
In 2016, e-commerce players collectively contributed just 4 percent to the total pie of ad spend in the country, according to statistics released by AdEx India. In investment terms, e-commerce category decreased by more than Rs 500 crore across TV, Print, and Radio in 2016, from about Rs 2,100 crore in 2015.