Mumbai/New Delhi: There seems to be no getting away from cricket mania this season, as businesses from quick service restaurant chains to malls to movie halls look at ways to attract consumers and sales.
Such so-called “out-of-home consumption” includes everything from watching a game at a PVR theatre or a Barista Lavazza outlet to choosing from cricket-inspired menus at KFC or Café Coffee Day (CCD) or participating in promotions being offered by consumer companies and retailers.
Depending on the category, marketeers are spending anywhere between 15% and 50% of their World Cup advertising spends on out-of-home retail activations, said Ashish Bhasin, chairman and managing director, Aegis Media, a media solutions firm with clients such as Philips, Adidas and Reebok.
For instance, regional incense stick brand Cycle Agarbatti is running a “faith-and-hope” television campaign that prays for the victory of India’s men in blue. For on-ground activation, the firm has a mobile van that will travel to over 100 cities, asking fans to enter the van and write their prayers. A sample pack of agarbatties will also be distributed.
HyperCity Retail (India) Ltd, a hypermarket owned by K Raheja Corp., has transformed its premises into a gaming zone, and partnered with brands such as Head & Shoulders for “Bull’s Eye”, a cricket-based dart board game. Competitor Big Bazaar is running a gully cricket tournament.
The growing importance of organized retail as well-rising incomes are some reasons why promotional activities related to the World Cup have grown, explained Atul Nath, chief executive officer and managing director, Candid Marketing, a below-the-line specialist agency whose clients include Hindustan Unilever Ltd, PepsiCo India Holdings Pvt. Ltd and Nissan or Hover Automotive India Pvt. Ltd.
World Cup promotions attempt to draw crowds into retail stores and malls at a time of the year when school and college examinations usually lead to less crowded shopping aisles. Ironically, World Cup television broadcasts are also responsible for fewer customers at malls. “Doing retail activations transforms the space beyond shopping as brand marketeers engage with consumers,” said Sanjeev Agarwal, joint chief executive officer, Big Bazaar, part of the Kishore Biyani-led Future Group.
If done well, the number of customers coming into malls and department stores can increase by 20-25% during events, says Esha Anand, head marketing and visual merchandising, HyperCity.
Social media has also been brought into play. Yum! Restaurants (India) Pvt. Ltd, which operates Pizza Hut and KFC in India, expects a 10% increase in sales over the same period last year. Pizza Hut is the official pizza partner for the International Cricket Council (ICC) this year.
The pizza chain has started a free meal campaign through Facebook that offers meal coupons on the social networking site to Pizza Hut and cricket fans based on runs scored by batsmen. “Footfalls actually decline at the stores during match telecast. We are not screening the matches at the outlets, but drawing consumers to the stores with this campaign” said Anup Jain, marketing director of the company.
He added that the company has invested around Rs 3 crore on the promotion that offers 12,000 free meals in all.
To improve occupancy, coffee store chain Barista is showing matches in its outlets. “Cricket is religion in India. The matches are being shown at our ‘Barista’ outlets and consumers will be offered attractive special cricket combos,” said Saurabh Swarup, marketing head, Barista Lavazza India, declining to share expenditure details.
CCD and Gloria Jean’s Coffees chain are expecting their special cricket menus to help them increase sales over the same period last year, when they ran similar special menus for the football World Cup.
“We are expecting a 20% increase in sales this season compared to the same period last year,” said K. Ramakrishnan, president marketing of CCD, a division of Amalgamated Bean Coffee Trading Co. Ltd. The coffee chain has already 450,000 fans for its special menu on Facebook.