Mumbai: A cheeky billboard along one of Mumbai’s arterial roads asks: “Bus stop ke peeche kya hai (What’s behind the bus stop)?” It’s a branch of Development Credit Bank Ltd (DCBL)—if you tried to find out the answer.
Tucked in a 1km stretch that has several stores, banks and ATMs, the DCBL branch at Mahim, a central suburb, was visible only to those who looked specifically for it until a few months ago.
Blind spot no more: Development Credit Bank uses a Mumbai bus shelter to advertise the location of its outlet. Photograph: Gouri Shah / Mint
“It had become a bit of a blind spot,” says Abraham Alapatt, head of marketing at DCBL. The problem got worse when the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport Undertaking put up a bus stop in front of the bank.
“That’s when we decided to turn the problem on its head. We used the bus shelter to advertise the location of our bank,” Alapatt says.
DCBL is not the only one using the outdoor medium to not just build brand image but also to drive traffic to their outlets. Others using the technique include furniture store chain Tangent, apparel and shoe brand Reebok, Barclays Bank, State Bank of India, mobile service provider Vodafone, hotel chains such as Hyatt, Park Plaza and Inorbit Mall.
The trend is picking up as high real estate prices force retailers to choose locations a few blocks away from arterial roads or popular localities.
“The cost of real estate is directly proportional to the accessibility of the location,” says Anuj Puri, country head of real estate consultant Jones Lang LaSalle Meghraj.
With the difference in real estate prices as much as 100% in some cases, several retailers are happy to take an economical location and invest in a hoarding to point customers in the right direction. For instance, on Mumbai’s Linking Road, a prime shopping area, a retailer would have to spend Rs350 a sq. ft per month on rent, while a location just off the main road would cost much less.
“In metro cities, it is sometimes important to advertise the location of your store or outlet as few customers will actually make the effort to find out otherwise,” says Sanjay Shah, chief executive of Navia Asia, an affiliate of the Starcom Mediavest Group.
In the case of State Bank of India, he said, using the outdoor media, in the form of arrow-shaped branded signage helped lead customers to an ATM at Churchgate in South Mumbai. According to Navia’s estimates, it helped increase footfalls by four times and ATM turnover by eight times.
Tangent uses a hoarding to guide customers to its Worli store. “While it didn’t increase footfalls, it did help our customers locate the store easily,” says Chintan Doshi, director of Tangent Furniture Pvt. Ltd.
This trend is likely to be more visible in coming months , especially in metros “as the rental differentiation is much higher in metros when compared to non-metro cities,” says Puri.