New Delhi: Arch rivals Amazon India and Flipkart are sparing no effort—and expense—in the latest fight for dominance in India’s e-commerce market.
The two online retailers have launched a television ad blitz plugging the deals and discounts on offer in their annual flagship sales on which they are spending a collective Rs100 crore, executives from three media buying agencies said on condition of anonymity.
Flipkart’s Big Billion Days sale starts on Wednesday and ends on 24 September. Amazon India’s Great Indian Festival will start a day later, and end on 24 September.
The festive season sales will mark the biggest showdown in Indian e-commerce. Flipkart, which raised a collective $3 billion in April and July, will be looking to stretch its lead over Amazon India by offering deep discounts, no-cost equated monthly instalments (EMIs) and other new offers such as debit card EMIs. Amazon has similar plans lined up.
“Both the players are highly visible on television and digital platforms. The quantum of their media buying can be estimated from the fact that they have been airing the television ads for the last 15 days across channels," said Sandeep Goyal, an advertising expert and chairman, Mogae Media, a Mumbai-based marketing and communication agency.
“I suspect that we will see a lot of print advertising as well on the day the sale breaks. They both must be spending an equal amount of advertising media money to promote the offers," Goyal added.
Flipkart started its advertising campaign on 8 September with a consumer insight ‘Abb mehengaai giregi’ (now inflation will fall) through its popular ‘kids as adults’ themed television ads made by advertising agency Lowe Lintas.
In addition to heavy mainline advertising which includes television, print and outdoor, the e-commerce platform has tweaked its strategy to include personalized content on digital this year.
It has partnered with US-based video-personalisation platform AdGreetz to create 100,000 personalized video ads that are based on 45 million customers’ browsing history on Flipkart, social media network Facebook and its photo sharing platform Instagram.
“We have learned that one-size-fits-all creatives do not work and that is why we have created hyper-targeted 10 to 15 second ads which are being promoted on consumer’s Facebook, Instagram and YouTube feeds. This is an excellent way for both retention (of existing Flipkart customers) and acquisition (of new consumers for the e-commerce platform)," said Shoumyan Biswas, chief marketing officer, Flipkart.
Along with its digital agency Webchutney, Flipkart has also executed an array of digital and on-ground activities. Flipkart has done a Facebook Live with digital influencers to unveil offers on various products.
The company has also created branded video content promoting the Big Billion Days sale in partnership with web entertainment channels like The Viral Fever (TVF) and Put Chutney, a Tamil YouTube channel owned by video network Culture Machine.
Meanwhile, Amazon, which started promoting the Great Indian Festival ahead on 6 September, is highlighting the value for money and affordability features in its campaign series ‘Karo milke taiyyari’ (prepare together) created by advertising agency Ogilvy and Mather.
“The campaign series will highlight the value driving and affordability features we have introduced this season. We have introduced a cross category exchange offer which simply means that a consumer can exchange his/her smartphone and get additional discount while buying a television. We also have ‘no cost EMI’ option along with ‘buy now. pay next year’ (feature) where consumers will get an option to start paying their EMIs three months after the purchase has been made," said Ravi Arun Desai, director, mass and brand marketing, Amazon India.
The e-commerce platform has partnered with search giant Google and social media network Facebook to send consumers sale notification alerts.
“A great marketing campaign is backed by an innovative product offering and I believe that we are giving relevant offers for consumers this festive season. The marketing campaign can only take that much of a leap from a great product story. We have genuinely strong product stories this year," added Desai.
Mogae Media’s Goyal said both e-commerce platforms need to strengthen their digital outreach.
“I don’t understand why these digital giants spend a huge amount of money on mainline advertising. If their claims about the user base are true then they have enough data on each consumer to target them well," he said.
“I think a large part of their advertising strategy should be built on past loyalties. For instance, I’m a frequent buyer at both Flipkart and Amazon but neither of them have still sent me a personalized message. As marketers, they are doing a poor job of leveraging good quality customer relationship management," he added.