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InfoEdge's Sumeet Singh on pivoting Naukri.com's marketing strategy

Sumeet Singh, Chief Marketing Officer, InfoEdge talks about building career platform Naukri.com. She touches upon the changing consumer patterns and how it is pivoting its communication to stay in touch with consumer trends.

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Pranali Tawte
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Sumeet Singh

During the early 2000s, while many job searching websites opted for a more serious tone in their advertising campaigns, FCB Ulka, the advertising agency and Naukri.com, came up with 'Hari Sadu' campaign in 2006, injecting a dose of satirical humor into the landscape.

This campaign resonated with the audience by using humor to tackle the issue of workplace challenges, specifically the often tense relationships between employees and demanding bosses. At the heart of the campaign was the character Hari Sadu, a symbol of the unpleasant boss infamous for making unreasonable demands. Beyond its humorous facade, the campaign carried a message of empowerment, urging professionals to confront toxic workplace environments.

Over the years, with changing corporate culture and trends like 'ghosting' and 'quiet quitting', Naukri.com has evolved its communication and content strategies to stay in tune with the patterns. Originally designed as a job-search platform, it is now pivoting to a career-building platform. This evolution is a response to shifts in the job market and changing user behaviour. This has led the brand to broaden its services beyond job listings to offering a range of career-related resources such as skill development, career guidance, and networking opportunities. 

Sumeet Singh, Chief Marketing Officer, Naukri.com talks about Naukri.com's journey, shift in communication, and how with rapid urbanization taking place beyond large cities, the geographical spread of white-collar jobs is also evolving, especially in areas apart from metros and Tier 1 cities.

Edited Excerpts:

Can you share marketing highlights of Naukri.com's journey from its inception to the present day?

Over the course of the past 26 years, Naukri.com has cemented its position as the leading job site in India. This has been the result of building a great product and concerted and sustained marketing and brand building efforts.

Our marketing communication has always been reflective of the sentiments and attitudes of white-collar jobseekers at points in time. Our iconic Hari Sadu commercial performed really well at a time when boss-employee relationships were authoritative and formal – we empowered professionals to quit toxic workplaces.

Our ‘Drag’ and ‘My Kinda Naukri’ campaigns acknowledged a growing desire among professionals to do what they want/love – we encouraged them to actively seek out and find the jobs that are right for them.

The articulation of our latest campaign, ‘Make Your Career Happen’ is based on the insight that jobseeker conversations are nowadays less about just ‘jobs’ and more about ‘careers’. 

As newer streams like social & content have become available to marketers, we’ve evolved with the times. Last year we launched a content IP ‘Workwise with Naukri’ with a view to provide all professionals the right information, tools and tricks to get ahead in their careers. The Workwise podcast has been very well received and is among the top career podcasts in the country today.

What does your media mix look like and how much is reserved for digital?

As a brand that speaks to white collar professionals, digital channels including OTT naturally make up the majority of our media mix in the current times. It offers us a targeted and efficient way to reach out to our audience – all of whom have a strong footprint on digital/social. Apart from buying inventory on these platforms, we are also increasingly investing in influencer marketing. 

Beyond digital, audio streaming platforms such as Spotify and strategically located BTL activities make up the rest of our media mix. 

Naukri.com hosts podcasts and shares tips and hacks for its audiences. Social media being an important medium in your media mix, can you break down your strategy for us? What are some of the patterns and themes that one can see?

Social media offers us a great way for us to engage with our audience beyond our core proposition of helping them find jobs. Our social strategy aims to inspire, inform and educate professionals through purposive content including industry insights, job trends, interview/resume tips and also a podcast that touches upon all things career-related. 

But, of course, on some platforms consumers and algorithms seem to prefer lighter content and therefore, the final pillar of our strategy is to also ‘entertain’. We create content that plays on the light-hearted, non-purposive side of corporate culture. Thus the formats and tonality vary according to the platform.

Naukri.com has attained a high recall over the years. How do you ensure that users come back to the platform? What is the end objective and goal behind your marketing activities?

The end goal of all our marketing efforts is to sustain our leadership of the white collar job market in India. While marketing has of course played a critical role in establishing and building a strong brand, I believe that having a great product in itself is the best way to ensure retention and loyalty. 

Can you explain how Naukri.com is shifting its focus from being a job to a career platform? What strategic considerations led to this shift in focus?

The starting point is reflective of changing consumer attitudes – professionals no longer view jobs as a means to an end; they are now focused on building long-term fulfilling careers. However, in no way does this imply that the DNA of Naukri.com will change – job seeking/ job switching is and will always remain a core part of ‘careers’. 

Beyond jobs, we now also have features such as job and industry trends, customized insights and company reviews & ratings, interview questions  – these are all tools that help professionals plan and make their career moves.

With the advent of social media and digital marketing, the marketing landscape has been focusing on short-term goals. How important is long-term brand building in today's market?

Despite being an internet business, we have always believed in the importance of brand building. At Naukri.com we believe that a strong brand foundation doesn’t just foster better mind measures and loyalty, but also sustained growth over time. 

Of course, social and digital channels have afforded marketers a new avenue to reach out to and sell to consumers and the draw is understandable – it offers relatively immediate, attributable, ROI-focused results. 

However, it is not a question of one versus the other. If you don’t see short term gains it’s difficult to keep sustaining investments for long term gains only. It’s about finding the right balance that helps achieve both immediate and long-term goals. 

What's Naukri's current market share? Where is the next set of growth expected to come from?

We have a 65% share of the job hiring market in India. (As per Similarweb data).

Traditionally, white collar jobs were more concentrated in the metros and Tier 1 cities and most white collar jobseekers and recruiters have largely been concentrated in these locations. However, with rapid urbanization taking place beyond these large cities, the geographical spread of white collar jobs is also evolving rapidly. This is a consistent trend that we have been observing in the Naukri Jobspeak Index – the premier job index for white collar hiring in India, and this is where we expect our next wave of growth to come from.

What's your competitive strategy and how do you stand out?

We’ve always had our ears to the ground – we frequently interact with our audience (job seekers, recruiters, recruitment consultants) and that helps us have a solid hold on the pulse of the market. A lot of what we hear from them is more often than not fed back into product development and informs business & marketing strategies.   

Can you share your marketing focus areas for the coming years?

We’re are actively working on scaling up our content marketing initiatives. This is a space where things evolve rapidly and as an iconic, market-leading brand we want to be the ones setting trends and shaping culture. For instance, Gen AI has somewhat been reduced to a marketing buzzword of late, but we’re already using efficiently for social & content. There’s a lot more in the pipeline.

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