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Property platforms must remain relevant & engage with consumers: Prasun Kumar, Magicbricks

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Prasun Kumar, CMO, Magicbricks on how to engage homebuyers this festive season

Real estate figures among the sectors severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. With lockdown and work from home scenarios, the real estate industry, which is estimated to have a contribution of around 7 per cent to the national gross domestic product (GDP), experienced heavy dips in the market share. But, the industry was prompt enough in recognizing the changing market and consumer sentiments to adapt to a more realistic approach to stay relevant in the minds of their target audience. From digital adoption to facilitating document verifications and transactions online, players like Magicbricks have braved the storm through their innovations and creative approach.

With the festive season, Magicbricks is all geared up with services like offline and online assistance on providing home loans (tie-ups with banks, facilitating document verifications and completing the transactions phase) to offering information on investment in corridors for plots in major tier I and Tier II cities- Magicbricks is now becoming a full-stack service provider, guiding the homebuyers from the discovery and search phase to transaction phase to post-transaction assistance.

The property site wants to reach out to the buyers during this festive season by interacting, engaging and help in making informed choices with regards to their home buying/renting journey.

Edited Excerpts:-

How has Covid changed the pattern of working in your sector? What have been the key learnings by MagicBricks?

Covid essentially accelerated the pace of disruption led by digital technology that was sweeping through the Real Estate industry over the past few years. Property platforms like Magicbricks had already aggregated almost the entire demand-supply available and close to 75% of consumers were already coming online at least once during their investment journey. Pandemic brought about deeper digital usage and some offline cases moved online – like the site visit. It used to be an essential offline part of the buying journey to physically visit construction sites and see sample flats etc., but Covid disrupted this process and it moved online with help of video call based products. Magicbricks launched MB Live Tour product which was immediately adopted by the buyers & sellers alike. The key learning has been to remain connected with the consumers with contextual narratives.

How has customer behaviour shifted for real estate business under the influence of the virus? How has the consumer sentiment been post the lockdown?

Magicbricks conducted 2 Consumer Sentiment Surveys – one in April & the other in July – to gauge the shift in consumer sentiments and behaviour during and post lockdowns. Both surveys indicate that the majority of the buyers remain committed to their investment plans even though they may have reduced their budget outlay or postponed the decision by a few months. One interesting behavioural trend that emerged was that while most of the consumers had reduced their budget outlays, they did not want to compromise on the aspirations including the property size or amenities and were willing to move to more peripheral areas in order to fit aspirations into reduced budget. Also, owning a home assumed greater importance than rented accommodation due to pandemic related experiences.

How can real estate portals engage with homebuyers during this festive season?

Property platforms must remain relevant and engage with consumers. Magicbricks had come out with its much talked about the viral brand campaign – Ghar pe rehke ghar ko dekha – at the peak of the pandemic. Staying true to its marketing strategy of ‘Heartbeat marketing’ which encourages regular conversations with consumers, the brand was the only player to have proactively invested in reaching out to consumers. The narrative was built on a very strong insight & was highly contextual, which led to it going viral within no time. The remarkable achievement of the brand film was that it was a Zero cost initiative driven with consumer-generated content.

The festive season is expected to bring about an improvement in sentiments & overall positivity among consumers. Brands must use this opportunity to engage deeper with better products & meaningful conversations.

Who is your TG? What are the changes coming in tier 2 and 3 markets regarding buying property online?

Magicbricks TG now is broad as we have expanded our products & services beyond search & discovery. Today we offer Property services including Home Loans, Home Cleaning, Legal services, Rental services, Vaastu, Home Decor & many more like PG, Plots, Commercial etc.. This wide bouquet of services means that today we cater to the core home buyer as well as various diverse consumer cohorts seeking various property-related services ranging from men to women to young adults.

Tier 2 & 3 towns are now fast coming onto the digital map with faster adoption due to the pandemic led disruptions. We see a huge jump in demand coming from these markets on our platform and also a much larger supply base coming onto the platform. These markets are also witnessing standardization of products with organised real estate development growing fast and many large corporate brands like Tata Housing, Godrej etc. entering these markets to tap into the huge untapped opportunities there.

How do marketers catch and sustain the attention of potential homebuyers in such challenging times?

Brands must remain relevant & contextual during these challenging times. Marketers must keep a close tap on the sentiments and changing consumer preferences as well as behaviours. Technology is likely to play an important role in consumer’s pre & post-purchase experiences and marketers must come out with as many solutions and interventions to tap into this opportunity. An online consumer is every marketer’s dream as it makes entire CLM (Consumer Lifecycle Management) including acquisition, retention & monetisation more streamlined and predictable. It also allows for deeper & a more immersive experience, which is every marketer’s dream.

What are the Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to festive offerings for homebuyers?

As they say the Devil lies in the details. We advise consumers to go through every minute detail related to any lucrative offering, especially the ones which appear too good to be true, to not get into any trouble later on. Having said that, there are many beneficial schemes that are launched by various players to attract buyers. Consumers must take advantage of the festive offers but after carefully examining them.

What are your expectations from the festive season?  

While the consumer sentiments have improved post-Covid led disruptions, we need to continue building on to this momentum. It is important to sustain this for the overall recovery of the category and the economy as real estate is one of the largest contributors to the GDP. With lockdown easing, employment concerns somehow improving and with upbeat consumer sentiments, the festive season will hold doors to the recovery of the sector.

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Nafisa Shaheen

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