eBay finally wakes from slumber

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Online retail market is buzzing with activity with a host of new players hogging the limelight. With well crafted communication campaigns players such as Flipkart, OLX, 99 labels and Snapdeal are strong on consumer recall. However, this has left the oldest player eBay in a tight spot, forcing the brand to wake up from its slumber and start a comprehensive marketing campaign.

With its diminishing presence and rising competition, eBay is trying to put its act together. “We’ve come back into traditional media to be visible as a brand,” says, Kashyap Vadapalli, Chief Marketing Officer, eBay India. eBay, the oldest player in the online retail sector, had been missing from the action-packed year that went by.

Eyeing an opportunity in the growing numbers of internet users in India, reaching the 10 crore mark, eBay has now launched its marketing campaign, which is targeted at shopping enthusiasts across the country in the age bracket of 18 – 40 years. Consequently, it has upped its marketing spends five to six times.

Kashyap Vadapalli

Kashyap Vadapalli, Chief Marketing Officer, eBay India

According to Vadapalli, eBay’s new integrated campaign, ‘Want it. Get it’, highlights eBay India as the “want satiator” destination for a wide range of products. The campaign while has three new TVCs, will also leverage online along with offline activations and outdoor to connect with the audience.

Wanted! A new campaign
The three TVCs, conceptualised by Law & Kenneth in six languages – English, Hindi, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu & Kannada and targeted at multiple regional demographics while having a national appeal – capture varied situations such as a teenager aspiring to become Miss India, a young man surviving a sinking ship and a 30 something nerdy man wanting to have a super model girlfriend; all of whom shop for multiple products on eBay India. The TVCs end with a Voice Over saying, “Kwahishen kabhi khatam nahi hoti… payiye kwahishon par deals har roz sirf www.eBay.in par“.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m4ftkHq_0XA&version=3&hl=en_US]

“This 360-degree campaign builds over eBay India’s previous campaign on deals and focuses on a more holistic approach in addressing the wants of the consumer,” says Vadapalli.

An opportunity lost?
However, the bigger question is, has eBay already lost out on the opportunity? Though eBay India was launched in India in 2000, as Baazee.com with no strong contender to compete with, the Indian consumer was sceptical not just about online shopping portals but internet at large. However, over the years with new players coming into the segment and consumers becoming more comfortable with the medium, the ball game has changed for eBay as well. “We haven’t been present on TV since the last 18 months but have been active on the digital medium. We have acquired a fan base of 13 lakh on Facebook in the last 12 months,” Vadapalli defends.

But haven’t these 12-18 months been crucial in terms of creating a coherent brand image? Experts observe that in fact these months have seen more action than ever in the online shopping space. Players like Flipkart, Snap Deal and 99 labels made a mark for themselves and captured a significant share of the online retail sector. However, Vadapalli reasserts, “It’s a long term phenomenon as far as establishing a strong shopping destination is concerned. It is not something that will get decided in one or even two years. I think organisations that have been able to sustain themselves over five years and are doing business in a sustainable fashion will succeed.”

A case of David vs Goliath?
Many new players have made the right move to engage consumers at the right time. For instance, Flipkart, launched in 2007, came up with its mainstream campaigns in 2011 that addressed some concerns associated with online shopping. That gave the brand credibility as well as visibility. Being the first one to come in the eyes of consumers on the main stream media, it also earned for itself immense trust.

Similarly Snap Deal, deals and you and 99 labels are small players that have become big names in a small period of time. The online retail industry stands at approximately 2,700 crore at the moment. According to an ASSOCHAM report it is expected to turn into Rs 7,000 crore industry by 2015 due to increased internet penetration. Snap Deal and Flipkart presently are the largest players in the sector.

However, Vadapalli feels that the 10 year legacy behind brand eBay will help it carve a niche for itself. He says, “We have a loyal consumer base. Ninety to ninety-five per cent of our traffic is organic. Also, we have a strong brand recall and positioning.” Vadapalli also shares the reason behind being absent from mainstream media saying that eBay had been strengthening its supply chain and services to enhance user experience.

As competition increases and players get aggressive, it remains to be seen if Davids like Flipkart and Snap Deal will be able to eat into the share of Goliath eBay.

Wise words
While there is skepticism as to how the online retail scene will shape up for different players, eBay feels that coming in of more players is a good sign as retail cannot be a single or few players game. Multiple ‘good’ players help the sector grow at large. Coming of more players also ensures an increase in consumer trust in the sector.

About more and more players entering the market every day, Vadapalli says, “Multiple sites that are starting up need to realise the value that they are delivering to the consumers; and identifying the key differentiator that will pull people towards the site.” He claims that eBay has the largest variety of products and that provides it a strong positioning and differentiation.

Finally, as an advice to the new players, Vadapalli says, “The new players need to get their act right in terms of sustainability and how much money they are spending in marketing and cash-on-delivery.”

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Jyotsna Sharma

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