August 8, 2014

Will E-commerce replace FMCG as cradle of Marketing Talent?

Billions of dollars in venture capital, corporate bigwigs lining up to invest in them and a slew of takeovers, the Indian dotcom space has been abuzz. While these are certainly the most noticeable developments that one can’t miss, there is a big transformation happening underneath as well.

The dotcom companies especially e-commerce websites are becoming the breeding ground for future star marketers. A report from Randstad India recently pitched e-commerce as the next big stimulant for employment in the country. They expect over 50,000 new jobs to be created in E-commerce websites and given the stiff competition in this space, marketers will form a significant portion of this pie.

The usual suspects

Traditionally, FMCG companies have been the number one choice of professionals hoping to make a career in marketing. Given the huge sensitivity of their sales to advertising, FMCG companies typically represented the largest marketing spends and thus opportunities to display your marketing prowess as a professional. This is changing fast.

New Kids on the block

e-commerceE-commerce companies are fighting for the largest share of the expanding consumer pie and given their similar product and service offerings, being top of mind is critical. Advertising and consumer connect initiatives are no longer sales drivers alone, they are strategic elements for these businesses. Unless you grow your turnover rapidly, you are likely to be either eaten up by competition or by the investors who would sell you out to a bigger player with a large M&A war chest. Therefore, marketing is fast becoming the most important department in an e-commerce office.

Media Spends

Media budgets of E-commerce players are growing rapidly and so is the number of people aspiring to craft that one brilliant campaign. E-commerce websites are already spending over 100 crores an year on advertising. Just to put that in perspective, this budget is already more than half of what HUL spends. Marketing spends for E-commerce players are going to grow exponentially and possibly touch INR 2500 Cr by 2015 as per Anupriya Acharya, Group CEO, ZenithOptimedia, India. This is likely to have a rub-off on the salaries of marketers as well and hence add to the lure of joining the next big e-commerce idea.

Creative Sparks

Creativity is central to marketing and if the last couple of years are an indicator then these new kids on the block certainly have it aplenty. I will not analyze all campaigns undertaken by Flipkart, Jabong, OlX, Snapdeal etc in detail but I would certainly share my favorites with you. Also I have deliberately abstained from featuring digital campaigns as given the business setup it is unfair to compare e-commerce and FMCG companies on this marketing dimension.

Flipkart: ‘Kids acting like adults’ has been the key theme that Flipkart commercials have followed since the very beginning. The commercials got great success as they positioned e-commerce as a child’s play and also dispelled several inhibitions about purchasing online through innovative scripts. This link has a compilation of their ads, I am sure you will enjoy watching them.

Snapdeal: While I am not a big fan of the ‘saving’ peg that Snapdeal has taken with respect to its TVCs, I guess the ads are doing their job with respect to getting consumer’s attention. I will however like you to watch the following initiative taken up by Snapdeal which is an amusing ride into the glorious days of Indian advertising.

OLX: Womaniya is truly the campaign that represents OLX as far as I am concerned. It catapulted the average Indian housewife to e-commerce centrestage. Targeting the right TG and establishing OLX’s leadership on the mobile platform, this campaign left Quikr gasping for breath. Quikr has subsequently gone ahead and launched its own “Khachaak Karo” campaign to a lukewarm response. The campaign’s newspaper innovation asking users to turn their “cellphone” to a “sellphone” was also a noteworthy initiative.

Changing the marketing paradigm

Creative campaigns are a part of the change but E-commerce is more than just creativity. Their agile organizational structures and open & collaborative culture is helping them explore new marketing paradigms. The recent association of Flipkart and OLX for a print campaign is a great example. This campaign urges the users to first sell their old stuff on OLX and buy new on Flipkart.

flipkart Olx- Value chain marketing copy

Here is two big e-commerce players coming together to not only make perfect creative sense but also a great business case of media spend optimization. In my opinion, this is the first Value Chain oriented marketing initiative that has been undertaken in the Indian market. It’s a move that can change the Indian marketing landscape by paving the way for extensive media marketing association amongst industry peers in times to come.

Closing comments

These are exciting times for the industry as economic revival is breaking its slumber along with the rapid pace of smart-phone penetration in the country. E-commerce wars might just replace cola wars as the flagship marketing case study for the graduation class of 2020?

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