Taking competition head-on

Future Group chief executive officer Kishore Biyani's disdain for e-commerce players is well known. From time to time, he has run them down for offering deep discounts without having a long-term, profitable business model in place. In a new campaign, "Stop looking online", for the group's value retail chain Brand Factory, Biyani has once again raised the war cry against online retailers and their claims of offering the best discounts to customers.

The new campaign takes creative potshots at e-commerce players - Flipkart, Snapdeal and Amazon - and urges buyers to "Snap the deal", "Flip the kart" and "Amaz-off" as they hunt for deals. Roch Dsouza, chief marketing officer, Brand Factory, says, "It is important to clear the misconception that online retailers are the only ones that offer the best deals. We took it upon ourselves to challenge them and hence this campaign." The communication is also aimed to establish Brand Factory as the destination for great bargains round the year. The target audience, obviously, are deal hunters and value-seeking consumers in the age group of 18 to 36 years.

The hero of the campaign is a price chart that lists the discounts offered by the top three online sellers and compares them with those offered by Brand Factory. The comparison shows that Brand Factory offers up to 50 to 60 per cent discount on leading brands, beating the three online retailers on their offers by a wide margin. "Since we are offering customers value for money with the best discounts, why not be pompous about it?" says Dsouza. The direct reference to online marketplaces Amazon, Flipkart and Snapdeal is "purely a creative expression" to prove a point.

The idea is also to break through category clutter. Dsouza refuses to name the creative agency, which, he says, is yet to be signed on as the agency on record for Brand Factory. The investment in the campaign is estimated at Rs 10 to 12 crore. The campaign is running across 17 cities and is supported by print, digital and on-ground activation.

Brand Factory recently ran newspaper jacket ads in The Times of India and other leading regional publications to direct shoppers to the nearest Brand Factory stores. As part of in-store activation, the company created a "selfie zone" where customers could get themselves clicked with store merchandise with captions such as "Happy to flip the kart", "Happy to snap the deal", "Amaz-off" and so on. Sad-faced mime artistes were seen hobnobbing with customers in stores to deliver the message that their "karts" have been flipped or that their deals have been snapped. The company says its hashtag #ShopOffline has got tremendous traction online.

"Discount is in our DNA. But while brand is about discounts, the service is not," Dsouza reiterates. "We provide best in-store experience and unmatched consumer service to our buyers and that will help us convert new shoppers into loyal customers."

At present, Brand Factory has 40 stores across 20 cities. These include Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Pune, Thane, Bhubaneswar, Coimbatore and Kanpur. Dsouza claims that the retailer has a strong presence in the south because it started off its operations there.

Brand Factory has ambitious plans to expand in the west and east. Dsouza makes a conscious effort to play down the growing threat from online retailers. "We will expose our stores to new sets of customers through this campaign and will be able to convert them to be our loyal customers."

The 10-year-old Brand Factory is conspicuous by its absence in key cities like Delhi and Chennai.

Brand: Brand Factory

Budget: Rs 10-12 crore

Agency: N.A

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