This week, 75-year-old iconic footwear brand Bata launched its direct marketing network, which will span 400 cities across the country. The first branch opened in Faridabad, a town adjoining New Delhi. The new initiative, Bata Direct, will sell its products through catalogues and marketing consultants.
Bata is not the only company that’s looking to boost doorstep selling to keep its profit momentum going. Cosmetics maker Emami plans to hire 1,500 sales executives, who will visit 15 to 20 lakh households over a period of 45 days to market the company’s products. And global direct marketing giant Amway recorded its highest-ever monthly sales in India — Rs 150 crore — in September, just as the financial crisis and its ripples in India hit a new low.
Downturn woes, some of which have crept in and many others that are expected, have changed the way corporate houses, big and small, look at promoting their products. It is clear that marketing heads will find ad-spends both difficult to come by and justify in these difficult times. While large companies continue with brand building and above-the-line activities, their many smaller rivals are looking at more measurable media. As a result, direct marketing and below-the-line promotions are in favour (‘below the line’ denotes less conventional methods of advertising and may include direct mail, sales promotions and public relations).
“In many categories such as financial services and real estate that used to advertise heavily on television, there will be a shift towards below-the-line promotions,” foresees Shashi Sinha, CEO of Lodestar Universal, a media planning and buying agency. Television and print are more expensive and include huge outlays, so advertisers will be cautious while using these media, Sinha says.
The Internet, for one, is a cheaper and more measurable medium. At sulekha.com, which gets over 50 per cent of its business from small and medium advertisers, CEO Satya Prabhakar Sulekha says, “We’ve been adding 1,000 to 2,000 advertisers every
There is also a shift in favor of customer-loyalty programmes. The Future Group plans to offer its customers a loyalty card that will work across all its businesses, which include Big Bazaar, Central, Food Bazaar, eZOne and Pantaloons.
Sinha estimates that overall ad-spends for measured media (television, print, internet, radio etc) in India are around Rs 18,000 crore, of which below-the-line will have a 25 to 30 per cent share. That share will likely rise in the coming months.
(Malvika Nanda in New Delhi contributed to the story)