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upGrad to increase marketing spends by 40 percent in 2023, plans return on TV as advertiser

The edtech company's new marketing plan for 2023 will be focussed on conversation around the mother brand.

By  Tasmayee Laha RoyDec 29, 2022 10:15 AM
upGrad to increase marketing spends by 40 percent in 2023, plans return on TV as advertiser
upGrad, which works with an in house creative team, will focus on telling real-life success stories in advertisements and other communications. However, Ankit Khirwal says there will be no change in investments in social influencers as they’d continue to endorse the brand even in 2023. (Stills from the ads)

From increasing brand spends to tapping new markets, edtech company UpGrad has lined up extensive plans for growth in the next year. To start with, their brand spends for 2023 will go up by 40 percent. Unlike the present year though, where the focus was to promote individual verticals, the company will push the mother brand through all amplification activities.

“We realized that probably we were spreading ourselves too thin. So we are re-strategizing our overall communications. We’d be promoting our mother brand with the target of establishing it as the most preferred and trusted place for upskilling,” Ankit Khirwal, head of marketing, upGrad, tells Storyboard18.

As a part of the re-strategizing initiative, upGrad is also looking at bringing in changes to media channels investments.

In 2022, the entire focus was on digital. Digital media spends of the company went up by 20 percent.

“We did a primary dipstick into our TG to understand where do they consume content and we realized that our working professionals’ TG who are in the age bracket of 21 to 35 consume a lot of content on YouTube so that is where we spend most of our money followed by performance marketing spends on Google search that helped us capture the high intent audience,” Khirwal says.

Television took a complete backseat in the company’s marketing playbook. In fact, after their partnership with Shark Tank India, upGrad had zero spends on television between March and December.

That equation is also set to change in 2022, although with a twist in the type of media spends.

“We will be back on TV and if it yields results we are going to continue with it throughout the year,” said Khirwal. This time around though the spends would be restricted to buying ad inventory and not partnership deals with marquee properties on television.

The edtech company would also be focusing on specific regions and trying to penetrate very deep into those regions.

“It’s not that we are not going to do pan India advertising, but we will over-index some regions especially in the southern part of India that includes the Telugu markets, Tamil markets and Marathi markets to name a few,” Khirwal adds.

Moving on from celebrity endorsers to end user ambassadors and influencers

In February this year, upGrad had signed Amitabh Bachchan as a brand ambassador and in an earlier interview with Storyboard18 the company had shared how they had seen massive impact in engagement soon after. They’d seen a 773 percent spike in overall traffic on the upGrad Abroad homepage during the week of March 23, when they launched the campaign with Amitabh Bachchan, as compared to the same period during February 2022.

“We needed a face with credibility to make people believe the plans we were offering for the study abroad vertical because we were constantly getting feedback from our users who thought the study abroad plans were too good to be true. Mr Bachchan helped us solve that problem. With that trust already established we don’t want to get any big celebrity on board as ambassadors in 2023,” Khirwal explains the decision.

The company plans to make students, mentors, recruiting agencies and other direct stakeholders the ambassadors in all marketing communications for the year.

upGrad, which works with an in house creative team, will focus on telling real-life success stories in advertisements and other communications. However, Khirwal says there will be no change in investments in social influencers as they’d continue to endorse the brand even in 2023.

Focus areas for 2023

Alongside plans of hiring 1400 new employees across roles by March 2023, upGrad’s primary focus in the new year would be to build trust.

“We wanted to be known as the most trusted higher edtech brand," Khirwal says, adding, "The second focus area for us in 2023 will be to build a behavioral change in customers where they understand, value and endorse the concept of lifelong learning and how it is a constant in one's career.”

First Published on Dec 29, 2022 9:51 AM