How CarDekho is zooming ahead amid Covid2019 pandemic

The brand's marketing strategy is all about content creation

NEW DELHI: CarDekho, the flagship site of GirnarSoft, is considered a leader in digitising the auto ecosystem in India. It works directly with more than eight car and motorcycle manufacturers, and accounts for 15-30 per cent of their combined annual sales.

While the Covid2019 pandemic may have brought the auto industry to a halt, CarDekho in the interim has witnessed a tremendous surge in customer traffic on its website and app. As per Comscore data, the brand has moved up from 13M UU in July to 15M UU in August, which indicates that customers are depending on personal mobility more than ever before.

In a one-to-one discussion, CarDekho CMO Gaurav Mehta explained that when the pandemic struck, the business was disrupted badly, resulting in zero car sales in the months of April and May. This, however, didn’t mean the company sat around twiddling its thumbs, rather it tackled the problem at hand with a two-pronged approach. “We worked on two factors, first to work with dealers and provide them with health insurance. Second, to introduce home inspection so that customers don’t come to CarDekho Gaadi stores owing to the safety concerns,” he said.

Due to Covid2019, personal mobility has seen a boost; customers are looking to buy their own vehicle because of the virus risk. He explained, “In June we started to see traffic coming back. We used to be around 36-37 million unique users on a monthly basis in March. In April, it went down to 18 million. In May, it bounced back to 27 million. By June we recovered and went back to the normal traffic. Compared to September, the number now is 51 million unique users on a monthly basis.”

The reason behind the spike, claimed Mehta, is many new users coming online to shop for cars and motorcycles. In fact, even users from tier-2 & tier-3 markets are searching for the latest motorcycle. “The segments that have recovered faster than the others is used cars in the two to four lakh range. Meanwhile, entry-level hatchback segment in the two-five lakh range in new cars is also doing well. The two-wheeler section has recovered to 80-85 per cent.”

Further breaking down these traffic figures, he said that 15 per cent of the site traffic comes from the website whereas 85 per cent comes from mobile platform. In mobiles also, 50-66 per cent comes from website and 30-35 per cent comes from apps.

The brand is also expanding in a big way. It recently launched its online insurance portal offering services in motor and health insurance. Apart from this, CarDekho has decided to open 50 offline stores in the country within the next six months given the rising demand for used cars. The firm is working on franchise models and the cars sold through these stores will be certified by the company and a warranty will also be provided.

Asked about how the brand utilises its marketing budget across different mediums, Mehta said traditionally, the business has relied on publishing editorial content on a daily basis. Content marketing is something the automobile platform does all year round, with SEO being a core part of it. After this, the focus is on paid marketing. “Eventually, we started focusing on brand marketing and working on different ideas of campaigns to reach people. We are seeing the results also; due to the campaign execution the new users went up by 90 per cent and 110 percent respectively for CarDekho and BikeDekho.”

The company is also dabbling in advertising on TV, though with limited scope and targeted campaigns. “They’re not like a huge campaign where you take up big properties like IPL. We invest in the media mix and then study to understand which medium drives the most amount of growth for us. We are very specific on brand investments because we invest in areas that work for the business. The performance marketing has gone down a lot and brand content marketing is something that we have found very good success in and we're trying to be more aggressive on that,” elaborated Mehta.

CarDekho recently announced its latest campaign for CarDekho Gaadi Store under the theme Karo India Forward, Karo Gaadi Forward with brand ambassadors Rahul Dravid and Mahesh Babu. The campaign highlights how easy it is to sell a used car, sitting at your home, office, or anywhere. It further stresses the thought of moving ahead in life despite all odds created by the pandemic.

In a similar fashion, Mehta projects the ongoing festive season will help the auto industry overcome the tribulations of the last few months. “Car segments like used car, entry-level and two-wheelers will perform well. The financial health of the country is improving gradually. With the fact that personal mobility would be there, I think the festive season will be better than what was forecasted a few months back. Looking at the traffic on the site, it will be a good Diwali for the automobile sector. However, manufacturers are still facing production and supply chain issues, which is holding up the industry somewhat.”

Over the years, the brand has proved itself a bankable property, having raised funds from marquee investors like Sequoia India, Hillhouse Capital (formerly known as Google Capital), HDFC Bank, Axis Bank, Times Internet, Trifecta, and Ratan Tata. And from here on out too, CarDekho hopes to keep zooming ahead, a few bumps in the road notwithstanding.

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