Kyron Dinshaw from Piramal Realty sheds light on the evolving marketing norms in the real estate sector, especially post COVID-19, when WFH became a way of life.
Kyron Dinshaw Vice President, Marketing, Piramal Realty explains how the real estate consumer has changed with the role of a home or house in their life, changing significantly. Consumers are now open to move to more spacious houses while including homeownership in their future plans. Dinshaw shares what has worked for the brand in terms of reaching out to the post-pandemic consumer, giving an insight into their marketing plans and measurement metrics.
Please take us through the ‘Reserve Memories’ campaign – how did it pan out? What kind of a role does the campaign play in helping the brand achieve its business objective?
Homebuyers today understand the importance of owning a home, and they are searching for options to find the home of their dreams. The campaign idea is to identify a place where we belong to experience a positive sense of connection and make memories that would form the essence of who we are. A picture is worth a thousand words, but memories are priceless.
With the second wave, how is the Real Estate industry placed? Any new consumer consumption trends that you observed?
Residential real estate saw an uptick following the recent pandemic as people realized the importance of living in a safe, secure environment. In addition to the state governments reducing stamp duty for a short period, developers also offered various incentives, including reduced GST and low-interest rates, to name a few, to attract customers.
Digital transformation has played a significant role in fostering the growth of the sector. Through technological innovations, site visits have evolved into virtual tours of projects and online bookings are now available through secured payment gateways. The industry was also better prepared to meet customer demands during the second wave because of the lessons learned during the first wave.
In addition, two growing trends were noted:
- The number of first-time homebuyers and homebuyers upgrading themselves by purchasing spacious homes is growing significantly.
- Despite discussions regarding home ownership, several first-time home buyers remained sceptical due to high ownership costs. We observed that despite their interest in buying, consumers were hesitant to commit to such a long periods of EMI payments. As a result, we offered them a variety of financial schemes across our portfolio of residential projects, giving them a significant flexibility.
How did digital experiences and social media help you keep people hooked and hopeful during the pandemic? Which social media platform has yielded maximum results for the brand?
- The pandemic created a shift in consumer behavior towards digital, which made it convenient for us to interact with our customers. Ever since the outbreak of the pandemic, we have focused our communications efforts on building two-way relationships with our customers.
- In today's highly competitive market, we face constant clutter from similar products, so staying innovative & relevant is crucial to avoid fatigue amongst our customers. The use of social media allows us to connect and communicate with potential and current customers, on a personal level and to spread the right message.
- Identifying newer avenues of engaging our consumers has been at the centre of our efforts. Our goal is to reach out to the customers through multiple channels.
What are the tools and criteria put in place to gauge the ROI from digital marketing?
Our primary metric for measuring ROI from digital marketing campaigns is advertising cost of sale (ACOS).
Every digital campaign is aimed at achieving a target ACOS, which is determined by past campaign performance and a comparison with industry benchmarks. Our monitoring does not end with ACOS. We also monitor the cost-per-qualified-lead (CPQL) and the cost-per-site-visit (CPSV), which are secondary metrics determining ROI from digital campaigns.
What does the marketing mix for 2021 look like for the brand and the budget allocated to each of the channels?
In a budget-constrained marketing environment, earned media has once again taken center stage. Authentic, relevant, and experience-driven content is vital for engaging and retaining users. We were able to reach the correct audience by going digital-first during the early part of the year.
The coming days will bring the return of normality as people move out of their houses and things open again. Whether digital or traditional, being present across multiple platforms has become imperative in real estate.
Our marketing plan will include a 360-degree strategy that integrates print, online, OOH, PR, and social media communication to reach consumers for the remainder of the year. As part of our communication strategy across these platforms, we want to drive home one key message - Providing gold standards in design, quality, safety, and value customer-centricity.
The social media strategy is closely aligned with our brand ethos and customer experience. We were able to do this by creating relevant content for our target audience and subsequently building communities of customers through experiences. Additionally, we use influencer marketing to reach out to our target audiences while showcasing the luxury quotient of our projects. Our budgets will be equally distributed across all four platforms.
With the WFH trend become more of a permanent thing, how has this impacted the realty sector? Have you seen an increase in home rentals & purchases?
Despite the challenges and disruption laid down by the current pandemic, the Indian real estate market has recovered strongly. In Q3 and Q4 2020, sales increased significantly, which continued through March 2021. Consumer behavior has undergone noticeable changes that are creating new trends within the segment. Nowadays, with a new sense of buying preferences, real estate has transformed into a buyer's market where consumers are looking for bespoke offerings to make the right investment choices.
What kind of a role does OOH play in your marketing strategy? Have the recurring lockdowns dampened the reach & impact of the medium?
As consumers' habits change, marketers must be nimble enough to swiftly adapt their advertising strategies. There was a significant cut in marketing budgets, including an impact on outdoor advertising.
However, real estate is a micro-market-driven business. Most of our target consumers are located within a radius of 10 km of our project sites.
Buying a home is not a frequent occurrence for customers. It happens once or twice in a lifetime. By capturing the attention of buyers in an area at the right time, you will be able to attract the right people. You can easily target buyers based on their location, demographics, and interests.
A commercial hoarding allows us to target specific socioeconomic groups in a hyper-local setting.
Billboards have a direct impact on consumers, and they work around the clock. Therefore, OOH and Print will remain one of the most effective channels for reaching out to our target audiences.
Besides digital and social media, we will continue to invest in print and OOH in a strategic way to boost our brand presence and reach for the remaining part of the year.
Does the brand plan to do on-ground events and walk-ins, too?
Currently, the brand is not planning any on-ground events; however, we are receiving walk-ins at our projects, which we acknowledge based on appointment only. We ensure following all COVID-19 protocols and guidelines, including social distancing at all our projects. This helps in building trust and comfort amongst the consumers who come to our sites.
What is the marketing plan/strategy for Piramal and the way forward for the brand?
In today's world, brands are not defined by their creators; rather, their consumers define them. In the real estate industry, it is imperative to keep innovating to avoid consumer fatigue caused by the constant clutter of similar products.
With the use of data analytics and consumer insights, we make our content more engaging and experience-focused to reach consumers and stand out from the crowd. This results in campaigns that provide consumers with engaging experiences based on their needs and preferences. Consumers are much more likely to engage with content and messaging that is conveyed in the right tone, at the right time, and through the right channels.
It is important to balance this equation for the campaign to succeed.
How would you define the ‘Marketer of Today’?
In a post-COVID-19 world, it is imperative to combine strategies, operations, and technologies to drive growth. The customer experience was affected by the inability to visit projects, resulting in delays in the home buying process. Similarly, a large part of the developers' staff was forced to work from home as well. To engage with customers in the future, we would have to come up with an innovative way to provide them with all the necessary information from the convenience of their homes.
Consumers are most comfortable at home. It means that marketers need to rethink customer journeys to suit consumers who might be in a different frame of mind. In today's data-rich world, marketers must contemplate how to manage and use the information to deliver more personalized products and services to ever-narrower segments. The use of analytics will be key to tracking consumer preferences and behavior at increasingly detailed levels, as well as to responding quickly to opportunities.
Developing analytics models that can predict behavior in the next normal may be challenging and they will need to be rapidly ‘trained’ on how to use the new data.
Please share the top 3 tips and key learnings as a marketer from this phase
- Always reflect your company values & be flexible enough to recreate your engagement strategies with your customers
- Use marketing technology strategically to always Stay Connected to your Customers.
- Refresh Customer Experience (CX) strategies regularly and always be empathetic in your communication during tough times.