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Do celebs really push the online gamut?

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MUMBAI: Everyone is talking about it. Everyone is on it as well. Online retailers have caught everyone’s fancy and if stats are to be believed then they are here to stay.

The e-commerce industry has been growing at a rapid pace; 2013 saw the industry grow over 65 per cent which is currently estimated to be at $3.2 billion. As new competitors entered the space to encourage the shopaholic in all of us to click on the ‘buy now’ button and get parcel at the place of convenience, the competition has only grown manifold.

To woo the ever-confused shopper who has too many options to choose from, thanks to new players entering the lucrative e-commerce market, the online retailers have to lure them with various offerings. Be it delivery in one day or exclusive brands on board, they have done it all to make sure customers come to them, time and again.

Discounts are offered every now and then, and on special occasions like anniversary through various contests, customers are awarded shopping points and gifts. For instance, eBay India launched a Way Too Fab (WTF) campaign for its ninth birthday bash. As part of the celebration, it created a special page www.ebay.in/waytoofab that allowed any user who purchased products which valued more than Rs 500 on 12, 13 and 14 March 2014, to spin the Wheel of Magic which offered consumers an assured gift ranging from special coupons to mobile phones and tablets to name a few.   

However, the latest mantra has been to launch eye-catching TVCs. Amazon India launched its first TVC during the most-sellable property on Indian television – Indian Premiere League (IPL). Having said that, who can forget the ads of Flipkart? The ads featuring children role-playing as adults went viral and soon many others followed. After a lull period, the war on the television screen has begun again as the new entrants want to leave their mark on people’s mind.

Like Victoria Secret would be just another brand without its angels, similarly, each e-commerce platform is trying to be different than the other.  And for this, these portals have decided to attach popular faces to the brand. The hottest fad currently is popular Bollywood faces associating themselves with various e-retailers.

Ranveer Singh, Lisa Haydon, Neha Dupia, Farhan Akhtar, Purab Kohli are just a few names associated with lifestyle e-retailers. When asked how does it help the platform, Myntra’s chief marketing officer Vikas Ahuja says, “By associating with celebrities, Myntra is making an effort to not just provide fashionable apparel and accessories but also be a thought leader in the latest style trends that are driving the fashion industry. Our association with celebrities such as Ranveer Singh for Roadster and Lisa Haydon for the Myntra brand has strengthened our focus on fashion, providing fans and customers an enthralling experience that goes beyond just shopping on our site.”

LimeRoad, which caters to women’s sensibilities only, believes that though it has differentiated itself from other e-commerce players by moving away from a discount led offering, it did bring in Neha Dhupia on its management team. The reason behind it was that the team felt that her style could inspire a lot of women who shop on the site and those who make scrapbooks to express their style on LimeRoad. “Celebrities who reflect the brand’s promise help you get the right people to the site. They also bring in a lot of freshness and relevance to the context,” says CEO Suchi Mukherjee and adds, “Neha Dhupia is not only a pretty face but she epitomises the hard work, grit and dedication needed to make it big in life.”

Others like YepMe, Lenskart etc too have celebs endorsing them. The rationale behind it is that most of them believe that celebrity associations help to create awareness, provide credibility and stature to the brand and rub-off of the celebrity’s personality and appeal onto the brand which strengthens the brand positioning / attributes further.

Online apart, many companies have shopping on television ventures as well. However, these 24*7 channels which cater to mostly housewives don’t have celebs promoting them.   “Celebrity endorsement is beneficial for instant recall of the brand. When customers watch their favourite stars endorsing the brand or promoting a clothesline it does garner some visibility and helps draw eyeballs. But in the long run it’s all about the products and propositions that any brand has to offer,” believes HomeShop18 CMO Vikrant Khanna.

The channel through its offerings, customer relationship management, value proposition, three-screen presence on TV-Web-Mobile and technology, wants to stand apart from the competition.

HomeShop18 recently announced its TVC around the mantra “Shopping Makes Me Happy,” which had (talking) cats connecting with consumers to establish an emotional connect appealing to their desire for shopping. Similarly, Star CJ Alive, which parted ways with Star Network, introduced new mascot ‘Shoppie’ which works at bridging the gap between the current name and until the new name is finalised.

TV has the highest media reach so irrespective of the industry, it’s still one of the most effective advertising medium. However, with changing times most of these brands have a 360 degree approach. New mediums like digital and social media have become an essential part of business today.

Companies are taking extra efforts in the digital space to supplement the tools social media offers. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube channel, Instagram etc. are deployed to engage with peers and reach out to existing and potential customers across the digital platform.

One of the best examples of luring youngsters today who are perpetually online is Myntra’s latest campaign -‘Live for Likes.’ The platform so far has also conducted other campaigns, both online and offline like the survey of India’s Most Fashionable Politician, Indian Fashion League, the Online Treasure Hunt, Online shopping fest, celebrity engagement through Fashion Icon of the Month among others. All this to encourage shoppers to be a part of its brand story.

Online analysts believe that whatever be the case – online dominance or celeb in hand - a brand needs to be very clear of what it wants to accomplish. “There is a string of young actors who are willing to come on board. However, partnering with a right celeb is also very important. He/she should be able to generate interest among visitors on the site which should invert into sales to be successful,” says an analyst.

A brand expert adds that these celebrities come at a certain price, so have to be used wisely. 

Celebs might help generate initial traffic, but loyalty is dependent on product offerings, propositions, value, after-sales service, ease of use of the portal, hassle free delivery and return policies and lastly an overall virtual shopping experience. “If these important things are in place, shoppers will return to explore more, irrespective of the portal being endorsed by a celebrity or not,” concludes the expert.

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