The more the merrier


May 11, 2015

Devina Joshi, Business Standard
Mumbai, 11 May 2015

It is always fascinating to witness international brands make use of local insights to woo the quintessentially Indian consumer, and the battle becomes tougher when there is strong home-bred competition. The latest brand to walk down that road is US-based e-commerce major Amazon, whose Indian arm recently released a series of advertisements crafted by Leo Burnett Group’s Orchard Advertising under the ‘Aur Dikhao’ (‘show me more’) premise. The attempt is to capitalise on the typical Indian shopper mentality of going through the gamut of choices available before making a purchase.

The television campaign features two one-minute versions and six 20-second edits that colourfully depict situations where Indians want to see ‘more’ choices, and Amazon steps in with a claim to offer over two crore products to suit every palate. The integrated campaign made a splash on social channels, radio, print as well as on the Amazon India website, where the ‘Shop by Department’ tab was replaced with the ‘Aur Dikhao’ tab for a week.

Interestingly, Amazon India flagged off operations in June 2013 without much marketing hullabaloo; its first marketing campaign hit the media only in April 2014, with a focus on delivery. With ‘Aur Dikhao’, the e-commerce major wishes to step out of the metro brand imagery it has come to acquire owing to its international lineage, and penetrate deeper into tier I and II towns. "We want to bring the brand to the local Indian guy who rides a bike and carries a smartphone or has internet access. That is our core audience," says Manish Kalra, director, integrated marketing, Amazon India.

For Amazon, the foundation for an emotional association with the Indian way of things was laid in the Kindle PaperWhite commercial of 2014 (incidentally, that Indian ad has been inducted in Amazon’s global campaign). The ‘Aur Dikhao’ campaign drives the ‘we understand India’ message by making use of colloquial shopping lingo. "We’re tapping into mass pop culture with this," says Raj Deepak Das, chief creative officer, Leo Burnett Group.

The company’s fervent need to be more ‘Indian’ is understandable – after all, it has been a late entrant in the booming $20 billion Indian e-commerce market which is slated to touch $300 billion and account for 2.5 per cent of the India’s GDP by 2030, according to a report released by Goldman Sachs last week. As per a Morgan Stanley report, Amazon India has a market share of 15 per cent, a distant third behind homegrown boys Flipkart (44 per cent) and Snapdeal (32 per cent).

Flipkart and Snapdeal did a decent job of advertising the compelling prices online marketplaces offer over the years – in fact, almost every e-commerce brand has propped its advertising on the planks of pricing, convenience, delivery and variety. Flipkart launched its first ad campaign centred on books in the summer of 2011, while Jabong rolled out its first TV ad attempt in 2012, emphasising the ease of transaction. Snapdeal went mainstream in the same year, with its ‘yamdude’ campaign signifying how even the God of Death cannot resist its tempting deals, and followed that up with a big bash Diwali campaign with 50 commercials featuring 28 celebrities in 2014. Snapdeal currently has Aamir Khan as its brand endorser for its latest ‘Dil ki deal’ campaign.

How does the new campaign take forward Amazon’s strategy in India? One can’t stay away from pricing in a growth-phase industry like e-commerce, after all. The current marketing agenda has been set by horizontal platforms Flipkart, Snapdeal etc, over the last two years. "During that period, practically all the players have been in a market-acquisition mode, so an outsized amount of marketing spend is focused on driving traffic to their webstores quickly, where the dominant theme is deals/discounts," points out Devangshu Dutta, chief executive at management consulting firm Third Eyesight. "So, Amazon has little choice but to follow that strategy too, even as it establishes itself in the market in other ways."

This explains the ‘Whattey Deal’ ads (for Amazon’s summer sale) running alongside the thematic ‘Aur Dikhao’ campaign currently. "Lucrative pricing is very tactical; it is almost like category hygiene and cannot be a long-term differentiator," stresses Kalra. And therefore, Amazon has decided to pitch its offering on the ‘variety’ premise for the long-term, while it continues to propagate a mix of pricing and delivery in its tactical communication. As analysts put it, only players with deep pockets can afford to do short-term tactical advertising alongside thematic brand campaigns, and Amazon qualifies on that count. The ‘Aur Dikhao’ campaign scores on the Indian insight parameter and with other attempts like being the lead sponsor for the India Fashion Week 2015 and sponsoring the IPL, Amazon India sure seems to want to ‘show more’ to the masses.

(Published in Business Standard.)