The online retailing industry is buzzing with activity with discounts and offers becoming the order of the day and acting as effective marketing tools for e-commerce brands. In a move to stay ahead of others, online shopping brand Crazeal gave a whole new twist to the concept of discounts by launching an aggressive on-ground activation programme to directly engage with consumers.
So what happens when an e-commerce brand comes out of its virtual existence into the real world? Hysteria and excitement! This is exactly what happened when Crazeal, from the US based Groupon Inc, launched a deal in association with PVR cinemas to offer a special screening of the 3D movie – The Amazing Spiderman at half the price, the lowest being Rs 59.
It was possibly the longest queue of cinema audience in the last five years for PVR Priya, a movie theatre in New Delhi, when this special screening took place on 30th June, 2012. Undeterred by the sweltering heat, crowds of people thronged the not so busy marketplace to redeem the vouchers bought on the e-commerce site. This perhaps seemed to be the first time when an e-tailer company ventured into a BTL activity of this magnitude. Out of the 945 seating capacity of the single screen theatre a total of 925 seats were booked as per the online ticket sales.
Experiencing the big picture
The objective for the company was two-fold. The first aim was to provide a quality experience with the deal because often cheap pricing means cheap services too. Thus, the company wanted to break this myth by tying up with a well known cinema brand like PVR and a much awaited Hollywood 3D blockbuster movie. The second reason was to directly engage with the consumers to know their feedback; and also most importantly to lend a face to the name of the brand. “Due to the nature of the e commerce industry you don’t get to interact with your consumers directly, it is more behind the scenes. You might have their demographic information but you hardly get to meet them face to face. Based on the various dipsticks and surveys we wanted to meet them and organise more and more events to understand our subscriber base,” shares Sachin Kapur, CMO, Crazeal.
The event possibly opened up a much needed two-way communication channel between the consumers and the brand, in the midst of stiff competition from players like Mydala and Snapdeal, which was touted as the leader in coupons category by ComScore (in a report in 2011). “Our primary objective of coming face to face with consumers was achieved. We captured a lot of moment with them in terms of photographs, in cinema interview sessions and consumer feedback. We tried to find out from them how they had heard about us and if they ever made repeat purchases on the portal. I personally attended to 7-10 individuals during the entire process right from redemption of vouchers to the screening of the movie,” adds Kapur. In addition, the event also revived nostalgia among people for PVR Priya, which was once a popular college hangout.
Digital promotions for a digital brand
The entire idea of the BTL exercise was promoted on the Crazeal website, Facebook page which has 1.5 lakh fans, Twitter hashtags like #spideywithcrazeal and mailers sent to subscribers. But more than anything it was the word of mouth campaigning that worked in the company’s favour as most of the subscribers bought tickets for their family and friends. Moreover, there was a special screening of Crazeal’s ‘Who Can Resist’ campaigns, created by ad agency Ideas at Work, for the in-cinema audience to build a stronger connect with consumers. The ads, which are also running on Youtube, aren’t another run on the mill kind of communication, but use humour and quirky themes to break the clutter of advertising by players in this industry. “The ads are not a direct promotion of what we do but help us become a memorable brand in the consumer’s mind,” adds Kapur. The company doesn’t plan to use TV as the medium of communication at present unlike most of the online retailers who are aggressive on the mass media.
Kapur says that the move to stay away from TV is deliberate. “There was a time when there were very few online brands advertising on TV, so the share of voice was really high, but now most of the brands are on TV making that share of voice low even if the messaging is unique. This is where the whole experiential marketing strategy comes to play a crucial role. We believe that with BTL and experiential marketing we are defter in gathering the cream of consumers that come on our site. Such activities have resulted in repeated purchase of about 40-45 per cent,” the CMO expresses. He also says that these individuals act as Crazeal’s brand ambassadors as they spread the word about their experience with the brand. “Thus word of mouth is a very strong tool of marketing and once that grows immensely, we will take the next leap which is into mass media as these individuals will be the ones who will talk about us and will get the ball rolling for us and differentiate us from competition.”
However, being a nascent player that just entered the market in October 2011, the brand undeniably faces competition from established players like Snapdeal, who have achieved higher consumer recall over these years. Kapur, however, does not consider Snapdeal as competition. He says, “I really don’t compete with anyone here, Snapdeal is a great company that is doing well but we are Groupon (which has close to 150 million subscribers), we are global leaders in this space, whatever we do we set our own benchmarks. Snapdeal started as more of a discount based portal, which is now transforming into a full services e-commerce site with a lot of focus on products. So discount is just one aspect of it, the bigger part is experience. We call ourselves as a lifestyle discovery engine where people discover something new every day. From the merchant’s perspective we don’t act like a sales team but as an advertiser and marketing platform for our partners.”
Hence, the brand provides around 80 per cent of web space to merchants for an entire day, which according to the company, is huge in terms of branding and visibility. The other aspect, which the brand thinks differentiates it from others is the quality of deals that it offers consumers. Out of the 35-40 requests from merchants only one or two qualify the brand’s requirements and quality insurance. Crazeal also indulges in stringent quality check and consumer feedback on the deals and even appoints mystery shoppers to keep a tab on the kind of services the merchant is providing post the deals. Thus, though the deals may seem to be on the higher side as compared to competition, Crazeal ensures quality experience for the end consumer.
Kapur adds, “As a late entrant we saw that the Groupon model had been fabricated by a number of players here, and they got a head start in terms of time advantage, so we deliberately stayed away from the mad race of offering heavy discounts or going berserk with advertising on TV. Crazeal focused on getting quality value deals for customers as we do not cater to students or a very young audience, but 23 plus audience; people who have entered the workforce and have money to spend and are aspirational. Thus our deals are slightly up end providing a better experience. Our average deal is between Rs 1200 and 1500.” The company follows a full price model unlike other sites, where it takes the payment upfront and the onus of consumer satisfaction and also refunds the money back in case of dissatisfaction.
The company also wants to stay ahead when it comes to offering unique consumer experience. Crazeal has time and again ventured into some unusual deals like a helicopter ride in Mumbai during the Ganesh Visarjan at Rs 2,500 for a 10-15 minutes ride; customised Valentine gifts and helped Nirula sell over 3,000 Hot Chocolate fudge in a day. The company offers a variety of services and in terms of its travel services it reaches out to 78 cities and physically present in around 11 cities. The company’s sales team manages the logistics for each city it caters to by studying the trends prevailing in that city and thereby recommending deals according to the mood of the city. The company is also planning to launch its mobile app for iOS and Android devices in India sometime soon.
As a part of its experiential campaign, Crazeal has also tied up with 25 Café Coffee Day outlets in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata and Hyderabad to reach out to young target group. A specially designed Crazeal Menu Card is handed over to every customer. The menu card urges the individual to send an SMS giving them a chance to get a regular size Crazeal trademarked Cappuccino for free. The entire objective of this campaign is to surprise the customer and offer them a unique coffee experience.
Being a volume game Crazeal does not want to overspend on marketing unless that makes business sense for it. The main challenge it faces in India is to create brand loyalty, which it has partially met with its discount offerings. It aims to become the defacto brand for experiences and a daily habit for consumers for any deal recommendations. Probably this could be the opportune time for the brand as according to RNCOS online retail account for less than 1 per cent of the total retail market in India, and thus, presents a huge growth potential for international retailers. Plus, it is estimated to grow at a compound annual rate of around 39 per cent during FY 2013 to FY 2016.