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We need to be a brand that is relevant, relatable & accessible: Adhish Zaveri, Shaadi.com

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Adhish Zaveri, Director – Marketing, Shaadi.com, says that people looking at matchmaking now see value in coming online

The implementation of the lockdown on March 25, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, saw most weddings getting postponed to later dates. However, matrimony and matchmaking sites followed the same trend as digital players with digital consumption seeing an incremental rise. Says Adhish Zaveri, Director – Marketing, Shaadi.com, “The registrations on Shaadi.com are up by 20% and our overall engagement on the platform is up 30%. It’s a great time to be on Shaadi.com. More people and more conversations equal more chances of success. Revenue growth has been healthy too. We’re growing at a faster click than last year.”

While over 70% of the traffic comes through the apps, it was noted that parents of the prospective grooms and brides were seen to be more comfortable using the website.

Innovations — The Norm During Lockdown

The increased digital consumption also saw Shaadi.com innovate and launch on 19th June, Shaadi Meet — a video calling feature for its members. They could  “video meet” their match and organize virtual meetings as well.

Within a few days of the launch, Shaadi Meet witnessed high adoption. On day 1 of the launch, around 75,000 members used the feature and on Day 2 this went up by 40% to 105,000. This was followed by WeddingsFromHome.com, a website to help couples plan their own online wedding.

Says Zaveri, “The response for both the offerings has been overwhelming. When we launched Shaadi Meet, we saw over 100,000 video calls being made in the first two days and over 500,000 calls in the first week. The traction on this continues to hold. In fact, we have recently launched this on iOS and expect these numbers to increase.”

He adds, “For Weddings from Home, we got 5 couples married virtually during the lockdown and at one point, we were receiving 4-5 requests a day. That’s when we launched www.weddingsfromhome.com, a DIY wedding website.”

Though technology plays a key role in consumer engagement, Zaveri says that marketing data plays a role in making marketing decisions. However, with data sometimes being ambiguous, the marketers’ instincts and experience come to the fore.

“Tech can empower you with access to sharper data and quick consumer feedback. Tech can also optimize or improve ROI. It is still some time before tech plays a pivotal role in making marketing decisions,” he says. The other major concern area for most consumers is the privacy of data when online and at Shaadi.com, data is seen as an aggregate and not at an individual level, and Zaveri says that as Shaadi.com is not an ad platform, the data shared with the company, stay with them.

Reaching Out To The Consumer

Commenting on the media strategy adopted by Shaadi.com Zaveri said, “A good media strategy keeps the consumer in the heart and unit economics in the mind. During the initial phase of the lockdown, we indexed heavily on TV. While advertising rates were down 30-40%, reach hadn’t suffered as much. Shows like Ramayana & Mahabharata gave us incredible visibility at once. We also ramped up our digital efforts considering the increase in screen time since the lockdown. We’ve trimmed out other media for now, purely from the standpoint of poorer unit economics and absence of an audience.”

The other important part of Shaadi.com’s communication strategy is Content. As per Zaveri, the company’s ‘sound content strategy is essentially a trifecta.’ – Keeping ears to the ground and follow conversations and social chatter closely; have a clearly defined brand purpose and ensure all content revolves around it and work with the right agency partners to ensure timely and engaging output. He says that if all the above three are in order, outcomes usually follow suit.

Changing Consumer Behaviour

Shaadi.com also conducted a survey which threw some interesting insights.

The survey stated that for 83% of women, marriage was about Compatibility and not compromise. This insight busted the age-old stereotype of women having to compromise in choosing their life partner. Another insight was that 82% of women said that they were  in no hurry to say a ‘yes’, again reflecting the changing ground realities in Indian Matchmaking.

Data also suggested that women would like to marry someone that meet their preferences, with 65% of interests sent by women are to profiles that match what they are looking for. Another key insight was that while matchmaking is still a family affair in India, singles were increasingly taking control of this journey with 70% profiles are created by the potential groom or bride and only 30% created by parents.

Says Zaveri, “Matchmaking in today’s context is about empowering people with the right information and providing them with a platform to have meaningful conversations. Our communication has consistently reflected this reality. We’re making a concerted effort to shift the conversation from ‘enabling people to come together’ to ‘empowering you to make the best choice’.”

Moving On From The ‘Skin Colour’ Filter

An ugly side of Indian matchmaking is the country’s obsession with fair skin. However, Shaadi.com got embroiled in a controversy after a user discovered a skin tone filter on the website and started a petition to remove the filter from the website.

On its part, Shaadi.com was quick to react to the criticism and removed the filter. Commenting on this issue Zaveri says, “What the user stumbled upon was several-year-old product debris left-over in one of our advanced search pages on the website, which is non-functional and barely used and hence it did not come to our attention.

“This was visible only on our website, which only gets only about 10% of our overall traffic and that too, only to users who visited that specific page i.e. less than 1% of our monthly users. When the user highlighted this, we were thankful and had the remnants removed immediately, as it was a non-functional aspect of the product leftover from an era gone by.”

He reiterates, “We do not discriminate based on skin colour and our member base is as diverse and pluralistic as the world today is.”

Looking ahead, the focus for Shaadi.com being market leaders is on growing the category. With the overall penetration for online matchmaking still low, Shaadi.com expects growth to come from all quarters. Says Zaveri, “We need to be a brand that is relevant, relatable and accessible. Our product and marketing efforts will revolve around this. The lockdown and social distancing norms have been a shot in the arm for us. People who believed in the traditional ways of matchmaking are now seeing the value in coming online. We expect this to stay true in the post-covid world as well.”

 

 

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Simran Sabherwal

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