Ashwini Gangal

"Changing consumer behaviour is a long-drawn process": Vineet Sehgal, CMO, Quikr

The next time you need a faucet fixed, will you log on to to find a plumber? That right there is the problem Vineet Sehgal, chief marketing officer, Quikr, is working hard to solve.

Cross-category classifieds website, recently ventured into the services space with the launch of QuikrServices.

Like most dot com marketers, Sehgal, too, is pre-occupied with growing the category and driving offline-to-online conversions.

But, changing consumer behaviour is no easy feat, he admits.

Edited Excerpts.

Edited Excerpts

What prompted the decision to launch a vertical like QuikrServices?

Fundamentally, classifieds have been trying to do organise a lot of the unorganised market... whether it's in the case of cars, real estate, or goods and services. We're trying to get consumers online.

We saw a lot of queries and listings coming in, on our platform, in the services segment. There's huge demand for local services, and people are even willing to pay a premium for them.

In the Indian market, the services sector is a completely unorganised one. While there's demand, there are no standards or benchmarks.

It is only logical for us to get into this space.

What's your target audience for QuikrServices like?

While everybody needs carpenters, plumbers, home cleaners, painters, interior decorators, tax consultants, financial services, travel agents, etc., we're talking to people who're the first adopters of a more organised form. They're from metros, belong to the middle to slightly upper middle class segment and are comfortable with being online. They're time-starved, tech-savvy, urban couples.

While one might think women comprise the primary TG for household services, often, it's the man of the house who does the actual 'last mile' part of the work. Say, in the case of veggie shopping, the woman may identify the gap and say, 'Hey we need to buy this...' but it's probably the man who goes online/outside and buys it.

Similarly, women may tell their husbands when something needs to be fixed, but when it comes to identifying the painter/carpenter, it's the man who goes out, searches and 'discovers' the service provider.

So we're talking to both genders. We target the household.

Today, there are several start-ups, like UrbanClap and HELPI, that offer similar services to the busy urbanite. Are you looking to take share from them or are you relying on existing Quikr users to drive initial trials for QuikrServices?

First of all, we're not in the market share game. We first need to grow the category. So we're not looking at an UrbanClap or anyone else as competition, because the moment you do, you're restricting yourself in terms of your own scale of ambition.

Today, our competition comes from the local dukaandaar who is right next door... somebody you just call up and say, 'Bhaiya ek carpenter bhej dena...' The idea is to move millions of people from an unorganised market to an organised one.

"Changing consumer behaviour is a long-drawn process": Vineet Sehgal, CMO, Quikr
"Changing consumer behaviour is a long-drawn process": Vineet Sehgal, CMO, Quikr
Secondly, I am glad there are many players in the market today; it grows the industry. If there was just one Flipkart in the country, that market wouldn't grow. So competition will accelerate the organisation of the services segment in the online space.

Thirdly, we have some inherent advantages. Quikr, as a brand, is well known in the classifieds space. This helps us cross market. For instance, if someone buys a home through our platform, we can do cross-category marketing and say, 'Hey you bought a house; do you want to get interiors done? We have a solution for you' or 'You're renting a house; do you need packers and movers or pest control? We have the right help for you...'

Sure, but Quikr is not known for services, per se. These other brands specialise in this space...

Absolutely. If you ask an average consumer, Quikr is thought of more as 'a place where you sell old stuff'. You're talking about perception and you're right.

But when we see the data, not just for the services category, but even in the case of our cars, homes and jobs categories - ones that people, traditionally, don't associate us with - we're among the top three players, even without the 'mind share' being there.

Is category creation your agenda in the case of verticals like QuikrHomes, QuikrJobs and QuikrCars as well?

The share of real estate bought/sold/rented online is miniscule as compared to the size of the overall market; there are millions of brokers and builders. There's a big market to be captured, first.

If a consumer is looking to buy a house, he is going to put an ad in both Quikr and Olx... and in a 99acres. See, if you buy a Coke, you're automatically NOT buying a Pepsi... by virtue of buying Dove shampoo, you're NOT buying Pantene shampoo. But in the classifieds category, a consumer goes to multiple sites; the sum total of all the ads is more than 100 per cent.

So yes, whether it's real estate or cars, the share of online, relative to the overall pie, is still small. If you go after market share, you'll just remain at 0.5 per cent of India's ecosystem.

At this point, what are the biggest challenges facing you?

The challenge is - driving relevance for each of these offerings in consumers' lives. Changing consumer behavior is a long-drawn process.

Also - What should my communication be hooked on - tangible benefits, our larger positioning or consumer pain points?

One has to strike a balance between short-to-mid term, tactical business objectives - like getting people online, using digital, SEM and performance marketing - and longer term goals like brand building, category creation and changing consumer behaviour.

While people may be comfortable buying phones or groceries online, are they comfortable enough to buy a house or a car online? Or will they prefer going to a broker or car dealer?

Therefore, collaborating with offline players, to give tangible benefits to our consumers, is important. Like, giving them the option of booking a free inspection for a car they're looking to buy; ads which have such options have a higher response rate.

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