Naveen Murali talks about the brand’s fundamental vision being sparking a feeling called home across the world for the consumers and much more
As AliveNow presents Social Samosa’s AgencyCon 2022 approaches, Naveen Murali, Head – Marketing, Pepperfry, and a jury member for the event, gives his opinions on the changing consumer behavioral trends, social media strategy for the brand, AgencyCon, and much more in this brief chat with Social Samosa.
Take us through the consumer behavioral trends seen in the space of late?
I called the consumer journey fundamental. Furniture is traditionally a category that has largely had players who are either extremely local or have largely been utilizing the carpenters or the local shops as the way that people shop. As a category, this is a high-valued non-standardized category, and when we really want to aid the consumers in this journey to buy furniture, there are multiple things that the consumer looks for. These are the consumer needs that we try to cater to. For example, one is how do we get access to design trends which are extremely different from geographically where I am; it could be either global or national. Next is, how do we get to see a lot of variety than what we get to see in the local shops. That’s why variety is something we really cater to actively. Moving ahead would be, how to get more inspiration.
These are a couple of things that we originally wanted to solve, and now, since our journey fundamentally started off being an online player to today being an omnichannel player, a couple of additional challenges that we had to solve is – if a consumer really has to buy a high-value non-standardized product online, what more are they seeking for. Because a lot of times, they seek confirmation of what they buy online is not a mistake. It is something that will definitely cater to their ask. Hence, we had to really talk about items like – ‘what you see is what you get.’ Which confirms and tells that exactly what you see, whether it be a particular shade, shape, or quantity – it is what you will get.
This is what we had to tell as an online player, but now that we are an omni-channel player and with having 150+ stores across the country, the additional focus has been – How to also tell people the fact that they can not only visit our sites online but the feel the products at our studios as well. And that is how the journey has been like on how we reach out to the consumers.
How is Pepperfry catering to the evolving consumer?
The origin of our evolving consumer was first being present wherever the consumer wants to shop. This is why over the years, instead of being an e-commerce player, we moved to an omni-channel. Hence, today a consumer sitting in Kollam or Chennai, if they actually want to experience and feel the products, today we are present through stores in all of these places. While the consumer who doesn’t have time to explore the market, we ensure that while shopping online we make use of technology which is various VR and AR techniques coming into the entire platform of visualization through a digital medium. And this journey of making the purchase decision with the help of technology, it becomes easier for the consumer, and we are working on excelling that.
Another consumer journey for us has been continuously evolving designs and trends, bringing out new launches on our platform which are evolving with the new consumer taste. There are designs that emerge with changes; secondly, there are categories that emerge. One category that emerged was the ‘office at home’ setup during the lockdown. We had a lot of people in the previous 18 months who purchased a lot from the ‘home office’ category.
Other than design, there are categories that constantly emerge over time. As of now, a lot of people concentrate on ‘Kids’ furniture.’ There are different subcategories that are picking up over time.
These are some of the consumer behavior changes that we implement. Beyond that, a lot of work happens on consumer experience at last. On which we see multiple changes on a daily basis. Every time minor things like supposing at checkout if there is a behavioral shift which enables the consumer journey to be easier, we pick up that as well. We are also focusing on a guided selling approach.
Tell us more about your distribution strategy – which avenues have managed to generate the maximum sales?
Pepperfry has moved from being an online-only company to an omnichannel presence, which gives us multiple legs today. The legs being – online as a channel to communicate, studios as a route through which we actively reach out to millions across, B2B, etc. Today our entire strategy of going physical has reaped its rewards. A great part of our business comes from studios. And post-pandemic, a large part of our target consumers also reaches out to us through our studio business.
Something that eventually works out as well between an online and studio is that we are able to first take the consumers to understand and appreciate higher value products better like average order value, etc. More so, once they come in an assisted selling approach, they are able to understand the product that can go along with it, which leads to multiple other products getting sold. All these channels have really worked out for us, and they are large contributors to the business and not some legs that are on the side.
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As a marketer, what is your objective from social media? What are your KPIs for the medium?
For me, social media, like any other form, is one such leg for consumers to reach out to us, where we can work with them and make their home journey better. Our fundamental vision for the business comes from parking a feeling called home across the world. All our actions, be it on social media, starts from there. Hence, when we work on social media, a lot of our actions either go around assisting the consumer to make his purchase decision better – where for example, we talk about the different types of sofas you can have or how you can take care of your furniture in the monsoon. Basically, a lot of our work goes into providing assistance to the consumers to make their lives and homes better.
Secondly, like any other platform, we also provide them very localized content linked to where they are. A lot of our approach to activity goes towards connecting with the consumer in the easiest and best way possible.
Our third approach, which is also a very strong business agenda as well for us, is the community approach. Today, not just on social media but on outside platforms as well, we work within the communities on social media, which is a very large strategy for us. The idea is that over the years, we have had a lot of followers with whom we have engaged. And in the space of a home and home décor, we have a lot of people generating great content out there. The lockdown has triggered this journey to a faster pace as well. Today, we have hundreds of people sitting in their homes and sharing their home experience online. That’s a large community with whom we work and engage. In fact, we have a program called the ‘pephomies’, which we have launched and working on actively. Here, we actively work with content creators of the country who are extremely passionate about their homes.
Beyond this, we tend to be topical and hence talk about things that the consumer cares about. From a metrics standpoint, it is something that guides us, so we get to a point. We track all the regular metrics – likes, shares, follower count, etc. But because metrics are just a guidance pathway, what matters for us is whether we are really going on that journey which will spark the feeling called ‘home’ for our consumers.
How do you use social media & digital marketing for lead generation? Which platform has been the most effective?
Since we have a lot of business happening online, and a large part of that, thanks to all the brand activity, community, etc., talking about us directly or organically to us. But there is also a substantial percentage of that business that comes through all the varied paid activities that we take up through performance marketing on digital and social media platforms. Within this, when we talk about paid activities, all the regular platforms that are working for others are also contributing to us.
Content around home decor & interior design is actively created & consumed – as a brand, do you leverage this trend to make the content to commerce transition?
Taking up in two parts; firstly, there’s great content happening, and hence for our product and merchandising, a lot of it comes from the things that are trending. We consciously ensure that we list a lot more products that sell from that category.
Today there’s a large wave of people posting content online about the entire category of ‘home’. We have had so many creators who post fabulous content about the home, living, and décor on social media platforms across. Which was also the genesis of our thought for ‘pephomies’. When we started this journey, we thought that there’s such great content that inspires and educates people, which we want to do as well; then why don’t we work with these people who are already in that space. It helps us get content, and all along, we build a community of people who then talk to a lot of others about how Pepperfry assisted in their journey of making their vision of their homes beautiful. At the end of all of this is brand love. When you go into the platform, there are a lot of people who create a lot of positive brand love towards our brand. Consumers being happy leads us to be happy as well.
What does your content marketing strategy look like? How often do you leverage influencers & content creators to contribute? How has the experience been?
Broadly, our journey starts with the consumer being at the core. Hence, whatever we do through our actions, be it at the sales, product pact, or at the registration page of our site, everywhere, the idea on content and communication has been to really stand for what the company says and does, i.e., ‘Home for everybody.’ Hence, at all junctions, from start to finish, we wanted to be an exceptional experience for our consumers. And all our content strategies fundamentally operated around this. This means that if our consumer is looking forward to us providing them help on how to set up their homes, we look forward to being that space for them. If they are seeking design tips or style guides, that is something we provide. At the end of the day, we look to have extremely engaging conversations with our consumers. Hence, we don’t take ourselves too seriously when we shouldn’t.
Strategically, we also ensure that the different channels are improved as and when it is required. Today, when I look at mediums across, with offices and the world opening up, a lot of life in the movement has channelized back to the way it was. Mediums like digital, which were super important from the get-go are there, but today all our other mediums, like TV as a channel, have equally become very for us. Along with it, now that people are resuming their lives, the outdoor has equally become very important.
From our channel through which we communicate, I think we have gone back to a new mix that involves all the channels which existed before, but now it’s in a different ratio.
We additionally also work with influencers in the space of home, beyond these guys. One large set of influencers in the domain today are architects and interior designers. We have a large community and a program working with them across the country called ‘Converge.’ It’s a specific program through which we work in making the vision of the community of architects and interior designers come true. This is our approach to influencers beyond social media.
How do you measure RoI on your marketing efforts? Please take us through the measurement metrics?
Since our business works online and offline, our RoI metrics differ in multiple channels. When we evaluate metrics through native channels like emailers and multiple other platforms or through performance marketing, one thing that anyway exists for us is the industry which talks about what should be the man on the buck. Meaning multiple terms like ROAs or RYCs of the input that you put in. This is something we always measure across multiple platforms.
Additionally, because there is a lot of effort in the brand that we put in, it leads to two things – it ensures that over time you do not put as much money, and your investments turn out to be much more effective. And this has consistently helped us over the years reap better returns on the other channels.
Over time, multiple things like direct traffic, positive sentiments, and repeat users; all of these are pegged back to this. For metrics, we also look at unbranded or unpaid traffic that we repeatedly get and how that move, the percentage of direct traffic that we get, acquisition costs, etc. Hence, the journey of metrics is tracked to all the platforms.
As a jury member of AgencyCon 2022, what are your expectations from the participants?
Be it the pandemic or the years before and after that, largely agencies or partners have successfully got to wherever they are due to working with and towards the same vision that the organizations have had. Successful operations have happened where people have worked together to create great stories or highly engaging content that has brought people to brands.
For me, I am looking forward to folks who have been able to achieve this – which is blur the divide between being an agency and successfully helping to create exceptionally impactful campaigns both from communication as well as business.
It’s not enough to have content that is great sounding and looking, it has to dial back to the objective that was set to be achieved and is it achieving that.
Any message for the participants?
Wishing everyone the best and wish that we keep having more such exceptional content that we get to have a look at over the years.