The e-commerce portal announces its entry into the realm of fashion and lifestyle with a new TVC campaign. Will it succeed?
The child-adults are back. This time they are here to announce Flipkart’s entry into the fashion and lifestyle category. India’s most prominent e-commerce player actually entered this space a few months ago. The formal announcement comes only now, however.
Fashion has a new address’ – an extension of its previous punchline, ‘Shopping has a new address’ – the campaign comprises three TVCs. The films, namely ‘Hospital’, ‘Office’ and ‘Carnatic’, show in the brand’s typically quirky style how people like to exhibit their style no matter what the occasion. So, you have a carnatic musician dressed as a hip hop artiste to perform at a conservative, formal concert. And then there is a junior doctor dressed in colourful, fashionable attire doing the rounds of the hospital.
According to Kartik Iyer, CEO and co-founder of Happy Creative Services, the Bengaluru agency that has created Flipkart’s advertising since inception, the insight was that when it comes to fashion, people want to show off their purchase immediately, often overlooking whether it is appropriate or not. The continued use of children playing adults is from a brand identity perspective. “They have become the point of identity for the brand, which was the whole point,” Iyer explains. The campaign appears in print, outdoor and digital too.
As a teaser to the campaign, the brand ran a ‘Guess the brand’ contest, creating a fresh Facebook page on April 24. The films sans brand name and logo were put up with a promise of giving away a Samsung Galaxy S4. Nearly 3,000 people participated over three days in a contest which invited people to guess the name of the brand and almost everyone got it right.
Ravi Vohra, senior VP – marketing, admits in a press statement that Flipkart has been late to enter fashion and lifestyle but hopes that it will make up for lost time. “There are challenges given the different nature of this vertical when compared to others. But the trust and superior service credentials we have built in the minds of our customers should be able to help us bridge that gap quickly once they become comfortable with the idea of shopping for lifestyle products on Flipkart.com,” hopes Vora.
Ankit Nagori, VP – retail (lifestyle), Flipkart.com, says that the brand has taken a few initiatives and that some changes will be introduced soon. For one, the website will undergo a design change to make it visually appealing. Secondly, Flipkart intends to set up its brand stores, where customers can directly shop for brands. The e-commerce site claims to have partnered with over 350 clothing and footwear brands.
Will Flipkart be able to switch tracks successfully into a new space where brands like Myntra have established their reputation? Ishita Swarup, CEO and co-founder, 99labels.com, believes that considering Flipkart is well known and trusted, it will be able to do well. While there may be questions about the consumer profile on Flipkart and whether it will match its new desire in apparel, Swarup feels that that should not be a major problem. Flipkart also has the advantage of an extremely strong backend support, she says.
Alok Kejriwal, chief executive officer and co-founder, Games2win, who mentors many start-ups and has a special interest in e-commerce, has his doubts. He feels there is a perception problem with Flipkart. “Flipkart started with books and went on to gadgets. Where does the buck stop? It looks like Flipkart is trying to become Amazon by selling everything but what is going to drive its success in that category? I don’t think it’s easy to learn skills in such a sensitive industry like fashion and lifestyle.” He concludes, “It will be a challenge for Flipkart to make its fashion and lifestyle category aspirational.”
Apart from all the usual problems of achieving profitability in e-commerce, some factors are peculiar to this category. Swarup points out the issue of size, which is yet to be tackled, apart the quality of garment. “Size is an issue across the world. In India too we don’t have a standard size. So, a medium size in one brand may not be the same in another,” she says. She feels that the try and buy service offered by some portals is not economically viable in the long run. That’s where technology can come to the aid with virtual tryouts. She see that happening in the course of a year.
(Published in afaqs! on May 8, 2013)