Aishwarya Ramesh

1mg’s new campaign takes focus away from discounts

1mg's rebranding efforts include a new look and feel for the site and app and a new ad campaign.

Whether it's a case of the flu, a hangover-induced headache or a sprained ankle - medicine forms an integral part of consumers' lives. 1mg claims to be India's leading online pharmacy and healthcare platform and has undergone a recent rebranding initiative in a bid to make itself more visible to its TG. Arun Iyer, ex-adman and founder of creative consultancy Spring Marketing is the brain behind the rebranding efforts.

As a part of the exercise, 1mg has released three ad films that highlight different aspects of the app's offering. 1mg offers services beyond ordering medicines online, including services like at-home tests and scans and access to medical information.

Over a call, Iyer admits that the purpose of the rebranding was to draw attention to the services that 1mg has to offer, in addition to placing the new branding at every consumer touchpoint. "The most challenging aspect of the campaign was communicating the different features that 1mg has to offer," he says, mentioning that he had to narrow it down to features they could show on screen.

Arun Iyer
Arun Iyer

When quizzed about how a consumer could take a leap of faith and buy medicines/avail medical services from an online player, Iyer assures that there are checks and balances that 1mg has in place to ensure a good customer experience. "To purchase certain medicines, you need to upload a doctor's prescription. Other items available to purchase on the site are normally what one would find, OTC," he says.

To review the effort, we reached out to brand and communication consultant Karthik Srinivasan. He opines that given the different films, it's possible that the brand wants to be seen as more than a discounts-based medicine delivery company. "Every other brand in the category is going after discounts - PharmEasy, Medlife, NetMeds etc. All focus almost exclusively on how much you can save by ordering through these apps. This follows the established script and sequence in a category's e-commerce evolution in India. The starting point, as also dictated heavily by the VCs that have invested money in the start-up, is to ramp up users. The shortest cut to ramping users, as per almost every startup, is to help users save money. Of the films in this campaign, only one is about saving money. That would mean that 1mg is aiming to move to stage two after having used the save-money messaging adequately in a bloody money war with other rivals," he writes.

He discusses brand credibility and mentions that it is now looking to build trust - with credible information. "What stops users from checking 1mg for credible information, price-compare the medicines between multiple brands and buy where they are available cheapest? Nothing," he says.

Karthik Srinivasan
Karthik Srinivasan

He says he doubts trust is an issue as far as e-commerce in India is concerned. "Flipkart started campaigns on e-commerce trust-building back in the early 2010s and we have come a long way, when trust isn't a problem anymore. It was 'will it be delivered at all?' first. Then it moved to, 'how long will it take to deliver?' Now, all we bother is about how cheap it is, and not worry about its arrival," he explains.

Commenting on the campaign itself, Srinivasan says he found it to be a by-the-numbers campaign. "The scripts are simple and straight-forward. The situations are the everyday variety with very mild humour thrown in. These are the kind of films you'd watch once and move on, without talking about them or remembering them specifically. In comparison, PharmEasy had an earworm of a jingle using A R Rahman's Urvasi Urvasi. However silly and cringe-worthy it was, you couldn't get that 'PharmEasy PharmEasy' tune out of your mind," he explains.