Mktg – ebay
Even as the world debates if brands can be built online, portals have begun to spend big bucks on mass media. After Yahoo!, eBay, the leader in B2C ecommerce, has come out with a campaign on billboards, television and the internet to capture mindshare.
The eBay campaign sees two prominent faces of yesteryears on state-run Doordarshan, cricket commentator Narottam Puri and news anchor Komal GB Singh, talk about the ease of online shopping. To create nostalgia, the films have been shot in black and white, except the eBay logo which is in colour. The film’s grainy feel is unmistakable.
Puri and Singh, playing Agony Uncle and Aunt, take questions from viewers on all kinds of matters. Thus, one caller wants help on how to win an Oscar, though he hasn’t been to acting school. A girl wants their help in raising her boyfriend count from three to six. Then there is a call centre executive who calls up to sell them a credit card. The answers all speak about the ease of shopping on eBay and how using the credit card on the website is safe and secure.
Advertising by online brands has been a low-key affair so far. Whatever little money has been spent has gone on creating awareness. This is only the second time in the eight years of its existence that eBay has chosen to advertise on television. “We used television as a medium for the first time in 2007, and this time round, the timing of our campaign is important given the fast growth of shopping on eBay in India,” says Muralikrishnan B, eBay’s head of marketing.
In the initial days of ecommerce, Indians were reluctant to give their credit card details on the net. But data security on the web has been ramped up by websites and payment gateways. Sceptics had also said that Indians would never buy on the net because they prefer to feel a product with their hands before buying it. But those habits too have changed. Most mass-produced categories offer little variation and have gained acceptance in ecommerce.
Indian consumers, in other words, have begun to shop online. This also shows in the massive trend towards e-tickets not just for air travel but also for rail travel which is a more mass-market phenomenon. “Given the size of India, almost anything can be sold here. In many segments, the need to touch and feel is fading away among buyers. I think it’s the right time for any firm to build on this,” says Gartner Principal Analyst Asheesh Raina.
India has 50 million internet users but just about 4.5 million do transactions online. Of this, eBay claims to have 3.3 million registered users. “On average, we get 100,000 visitors daily. I think the environment and momentum are right for us to launch such a campaign and increase adoption of eBay for shopping online in India,” says Muralikrishnan.
The campaign has been created by Wieden+ Kennedy and the film shot by Elements Production Services. It focuses on customer experience on the portal. “Our current campaign focuses on communicating the three key aspects of the eBay value proposition to the consumer: Wide variety, deals and a safe online shopping platform. The initial response to our campaign has been very positive and encouraging,” says Muralikrishnan. “Super deals, super safe,” says the tagline.
The advertisements are aimed at people in the age group of 20 to 45 in metros. Given the multiple messages that needed to be communicated, the agency conceived the black and white feel of television in the 1970s with a dial-in talk show format. The choice of Doordarshan was purely due to its credibility, says Muralikrishnan. The company feels that people in this age group grew up on Doordarshan and would find it easy to relate to.
“The other reason is that the minimum transaction value on eBay, unlike on other e-commerce portals, is high. A first-time user on eBay would spend at least Rs 2,000 to Rs 3,000, and we believe that kind of spending power comes only at a certain age,” says another eBay executive. This is the generation that was nurtured by Doordarshan and watched Puri and Singh.
Not everyone agrees that the campaign is a great piece of work. “This is a tactical piece of advertising. It shows that the brand wants to stand out from the rest. If you are looking purely at brand awareness, perhaps it will do a good job. But an advertisement is much more than that and I don’t think the eBay one is efficient. Especially the shift to business seems difficult,” says brand consultant Harish Bijoor.
Still others feel that the campaign could cause a temporary spike in sales, which will come down the moment it is taken off air. “There is data to prove that portals have seen an increase of 10 per cent when they launch a campaign like this. But it is also a fact that once the communication ends, the same sites see a drop of as much as 50 to 60 per cent in the number of unique users,” says an industry source.
Industry watchers also feel that the company, by targeting the older crowd, is losing out on the actual net users — the younger generation. “In terms of the target audience, the advertisements do make sense. But then you are forgetting a large target group that is highly net-savvy, though this group is financially dependent on parents,” adds Bijoor.
eBay, according to Vizisense data, leads the ecommerce category in India in the non-ticketing category. It has 1.6 million unique users, and is followed by Rediff Shopping which has 1.16 million unique users and Indiatimes Shopping with 795,000 unique users. The listing of products on eBay has increased to 350,000 now from 75,000 in 2005. More important, penetration on PaisaPay, the payment gateway, has grown to 70 per cent now from 54 per cent last year and a mere 15 per cent in 2005.
In terms of preference among buyers too, eBay scores. “Almost 49 per cent of the online buyers in India buy from eBay on a duplicated basis and 35 per cent of all buyers do that on a preferred basis,” says Mrutunjay Mishra, co-founder, JuxtConsult.
The company sells a piece of jewellery every four minutes and a mobile handset every eight minutes. During this holiday season, some of the products that sold well on eBay were dual SIM mobile phones, 4GB pen drives, loose diamonds and commemorative stamps (post-1947).
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