Mumbai: Fashionandyou.com, the e-commerce portal specializing in fashion and lifestyle products, had a burst of tactical advertising on ESPN during the India-England cricket series on 30 July to announce its online sale. Started nearly two years ago, the shopping portal, owned by the Smile Group, has relied on direct mailers, text messages, social media and other digital marketing initiatives to publicize the sale. However, last month, it bought advertising time on ESPN, which reaches 75.5 million viewers.
“The response was unprecedented. At one point we had approximately 11,000 requests (logging online) per second,” said Trivikram Thakore, director of marketing for fashionandyou.com. The company also operates bestylish.com and dealsandyou.com.
Impressed with the consumer response to its television commercial, the company is planning to add the medium to its marketing arsenal although Thakore declined to comment on how much the brand will spend on cricket.
Fashionandyou.com is not alone in splashing its advertising messages on the small screen. Several other online shopping brands such as olx.in, dealsandyou.com, flipkart.com and quikr.com, among others, have earmarked a substantial portion of their marketing budget for television, especially cricket.
According to TAM Sports, a division of TAM Media Research Pvt. Ltd, recent data on two fairly expensive cricket properties—the recently concluded India-West Indies series on Ten Cricket and the ongoing India-England series on ESPN-Star Sports—show that a number of e-commerce sites such Olx.in and Quikr.com advertised extensively on these tournaments in a bid to reach out to a wider audience.
An ESPN-Star Sports executive confirmed that a number of e-commerce sites bought air time on the upcoming cricket One Day Internationals in September. However, he declined to share details on the names and volume of advertising purchased.
Shopping portals are shifting advertising to the mass media for several reasons. Most online companies are looking to raise money from private investors and need to create a buzz. More important, the companies need to create brand awareness beyond Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore and reach out to the smaller cities where the demand for their products is coming from.
According to a study by market research firm JuxtConsult, the number of online buyers has seen a 70% jump—from 10 million to 17 million—while that of active Internet users has risen 28% in 2011 over 2010.
According to estimates by Google India, there are over 100 million Internet users in India, growing at approximately 24% a year. That’s not all. More and more consumers are logging onto the Web for shopping from tier II and tier III towns, according to industry experts.
Internet sales have seen the sharpest growth in the non-travel category, according to the JuxtConsult study. It says there are 13.5 million shoppers ordering non-travel products online compared with 8.6 million buyers of travel products (train and air tickets) on the Internet.
Little surprise then, that Sanjay Ramakrishnan, senior vice-president, marketing, for Myntra.com, part of Myntra Designs Pvt. Ltd, said it was advertising its brand on television “as we want to go beyond the tier I cities to tier II and tier III cities where certain brands (products) are not available.” He said it was part of the company’s strategy to create brand awareness and convey that the brand was here for the long haul.
Myntra.com, an e-commerce site selling fashion and lifestyle products from 60 brands including Nike, Puma and Adidas, has set aside Rs 4-5 crore for its campaign currently being aired on film, music, sports and English news channels.
Myntra Designs has booked over 200 ad spots on channels such as Neo Sports, ESPN and Ten Sports, among others. Although much of the $14 million (Rs 63 crore) Myntra.com raised last year is being used to expand infrastructure, warehousing and marketing, “we will continue to be present on mass media for a while,” Ramakrishnan said.
Experts say that mass media such as television tends to bring more credibility to brands. “In India, consumers have a greater degree of comfort interacting and engaging with brands that they see on television opposed to brands that are just digitally created,” said Gaurav Kachru, co-founder and chief executive of dealsandyou.com.
Kachru said the brand is likely to spend approximately Rs 20-25 crore on advertising and marketing over the next 12 months across all mass media —television, radio, outdoor and digital—with a clear focus on brand building and consumer acquisition. The brand is likely to increase advertising during the festive season and has already booked airtime on a marquee sporting property on television that will be on air soon. The site received $2-3 million in funding last year.
Jiby Thomas, co-founder and vice-president (marketing) of the three-year-old Quikr.com, a horizontal classifieds platform, said it was time for the company to reach out to a wider audience. “The idea was to get onto television and quickly build brand awareness, especially among consumers from smaller cities who maybe first-time users, logging onto the site from their mobile phones,” he said.
The brand advertised during the India-England series on ESPN, even though cricket is expensive. “Ad spots on cricket mean instant recall and wider reach for the brand, especially when India is playing,” he said. The brand plans to spend Rs 12-16 crore over the next nine to 12 months.
According to Jehil Thakkar, executive director (media and entertainment) at KPMG India, as the category (online shopping portals) gets crowded, the companies are beginning to recognize that they need to quickly establish their brands.
“Over the last two years, a number of the sites have raised money which has, so far, been directed towards operational build-ups. “Going forward, we will see that money flow into advertising and marketing,” said Thakkar.