60-80% sales in Real Estate happen from within a radius of 5-7 kms of the location: Viral Oza

Viral Oza

Viral Oza, CMO, Mahindra Lifespaces talks about the nitty gritties of real-estate marketing – right from the brand’s marketing blueprint to how the industry itself has changed, and hence the approach towards marketing and communication. 

Earlier this year, Mahindra Lifespaces launched their brand promise of Crafting Life’. Viral Oza, Chief Marketing Officer, Mahindra Lifespaces tells Social Samosa that the idea was to build an overarching brand communication that ties in their residential and industrial offerings. As a part of the campaign, the brand initiated an extensive digital undertaking and has also made changes to their core offerings. 

Viral further highlights what does it mean to be a real estate marketer in the post-pandemic world. He speaks about how technology has changed digital marketing and how the brand targets the hyper-local leads around their projects. 

Edited Excerpts: 

Please tell us about Mahindra Lifespaces’ recent campaign – right from the idea, execution to the brand’s objective from the campaign

Mahindra Lifespaces has two large businesses – residential and industrial and within residential, there is further segregation in terms of premium residential and value residential. Within industrial, there are two brands Mahindra World City and Origin – which is an industrial cluster brand. Each brand has its own proposition and each one approaches the market and consumers in its own way. But as a portfolio, there was no overarching brand promise that we could use to tie it all together. This was the starting point for our campaign. 

Real Estate as a category is seen as something that you buy and the journey ends with the purchase. But the way we saw things, the purchase was only the starting point of the journey. If I take it in the residential context, it is the starting point because of the consumer truth that consumers don’t buy a home, they are buying a dream of what their life will be like once they move on. Similarly, for our industrial consumers, the purchase is the start of a new business or expansion. Our role as a Real Estate brand is to impact that dream and that’s how the communication of Crafting Life came into existence. 

We needed a differentiator, something that sets us apart as a brand that adds value throughout the product life cycle. Another driving factor was the fact that there is no other product category where the consumer is ready to take on a lifelong debt to own something.  Thus, our goal is to make aspirational living accessible to homes and workplaces. 

Please take us through your Media Blueprint for the campaign 

In the last two years, consumer consumption patterns have changed a lot. Thus, primarily from a distribution point of view, digital was at the core. In our key markets – Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore – in the last four weeks we reached nearly a million consumers. It’s largely through social media – we have done some outdoor which are strategic to our project sites. Real Estate is a very focused category and this is very targeted messaging that we have done. 

How did the campaign perform? What kind of measurement metrics do you have in place to gauge campaign performance?

For any category or brand using digital as a medium, the metrics usually remain the same – you have certain top of the funnel and bottom of the funnel objectives, engagement metrics, viewing metrics, and so on and forth. I feel that metrics are the same, it’s about why I created a certain communication? Why do I want a certain consumer behaviour? 

For example, for the crafting Life campaign, we wanted the consumers to view the film to the end so that our complete messaging is conveyed. 

For me, the view-through rate is more important than Facebook’s 15-second view rate. It’s about how we separate what the metric means to us and prioritize that accordingly. 

In a campaign like Crafting Life, I prioritize Click-Through Rates and not Leads, because lead generation is not the objective. 

Also Read: Chefs of Social Media: How these food connoisseurs reached a global audience

What have been the consumer consumption trends seen in the Indian real estate industry? While real estate prices have taken a hit, how has it impacted consumer demand?

There have been a lot of articles on the Uber-ization of all industries wherein the younger demographics feel that it is better to rent than to buy. But, at the end of the day, a home is a home. We’re in a very privileged category, where the demand is not the question only the decision is the question. One of the positive impacts that the pandemic has had on this industry is that this decision has been taken. Within all the uncertainty and volatility, consumers have realized that they need the safety of their own home, even if it’s a small one. 

Homebuyers have started coming back. Since a few years we have been seeing a trend of end-user driven demand and now we’re even seeing the investors coming back – real estate is a good asset to invest in, especially in the current scenario. Another trend is the movement on second homes – thus, prices in places like Alibaug, Goa, etc shot through the roof. Another trend that has been in the making for the last few years is the movement toward branded and organized real estate developers. 

Some of the other changes seen are from the point of view of design – in an era of WFH consumers want a space where they can create a workspace. During the lockdown, a lot of consumers installed appliances like dishwashers and washing machines and you need a specific space for those. 

In a sector like Real Estate, where the product is so highly-priced, how are leads generated? Especially among the GenZ & Millennials (who have now reached an age where buying a house is a serious consideration), What kind of a role does social media play in lead generation?

Real Estate as a category for the longest time has been a commodity. From a commodity, it has now moved to a product stage where it is still sold as a product. In the last two years, Real Estate has become a branded category. It is still in its nascent stage but the process has started. 

From that perspective, it’s important to understand the consumers and help them move from generic product benefits to an evolved, emotional higher order of things. 

Thus, we started transitioning to consumer benefit-oriented offerings. It is no longer about, size, views, and Italian marble for us. It is about amenities that contribute to holistic living – like we have an energy garden in one of the projects, we created working pods with solar power in some of our projects. We have tie-ups with various brands focused on adding value – such as Agarwal Movers & Packers, in education Toppr, and more. 

In line with the brand alliances insight, a number of branded real estate developers, provide in-society branding opportunities to relevant, hyper-local brands. Do you see this as an evolving trend in space? 

There is a difference between making the consumer’s life better as opposed to featuring something in a commercial capacity. There is no right or wrong here – it is about what is important to that society. If there is extra space that a brand can rent for offering a service that benefits the society, then it can work. The benefit is the main objective, the rent is the by-product. 

Real Estate has a very hyperlocal market in that sense – how do you reach locally relevant & apt audiences for a given project. For instance, for a new project in Kandivali, what would the media mix & marketing plan look like? 

Real estate is a very hyper-local category to the extent that anywhere between 60-80 per cent of the sale of a project happens from within a radius of 5-7 kilometres, of the location. This is across price points. 

Let’s break this down into offline and online marketing. The offline options are very obvious – outdoor is the big thing. In terms of print, publications now do various editions, so an ad for a specific geographic location is possible. In online, technology has evolved tremendously.

Earlier, geotargeting used to happen on mobile phones, now geotargeting can be done through IP addresses for niche campaigns. There are further options such as cell tower triangulation. 

Irrespective of the geography or the market, the fundamental of what the brand wants to tell the consumers does not change. Only how we communicate changes and that changes basis the category, medium, and other factors. 

I feel that real estate brands don’t provide consumers with enough information. Sometimes I feel that the industry wants to make it difficult for consumers to buy a home. The brand needs to educate consumers and build a relationship with them, making things easier for them when they’re in the process of this life-changing buy. Therefore your website and social media content come into play. Is it relevant? Will the consumers pass it around? Irrespective of the medium, brands need to focus on trust-building. 

Will you be investing in big-ticket events like IPL this year? 

I wished I could invest in IPL – just for the sake of having that much budget. If we go back to the fundamentals of marketing, why would a brand want to invest in marketing? One of the reasons would be that you’re in a category where staying on the top of the mind is important to the purchase decision. Or you’re getting into a crowded category and want to create curiosity around the brand. There may be other reasons, but for me, fundamentally it’s these two. There are very few real estate players that are present on a national level. The cost-benefit and RoI v/s the investment, just don’t make sense thus we don’t invest in IPL. 

Our blueprint consists of outdoor, print, and digital.