Ananya Pathak

"Want to build a relationship with shop owners": CMO, BharatPe

While existing fintech brands like Paytm and PhonePe are busy wooing shoppers with cashback offers, BharatPe targets retailers.

It wasn't so long ago that the digital payment industry started gaining momentum in India. Online shopping, payment of utility bills (electricity, mobile bills, water bills, etc.), movie tickets and travel bookings all wanted to ride the wave. Populated by homegrown brands like Paytm, BHIM, MobiKwik, and global giants like Google Pay (formerly known as Tez), Amazon Pay and PayPal, the market space has so far doled out lucrative offers and cashback to get consumers on board.

With a new target in mind, Indian fintech startup BharatPe has rolled out a new spot featuring Salman Khan. Instead of aiming at customers with offers, the brand is focusing on shopkeepers and retailers by highlighting their pain-points.

"Want to build a relationship with shop owners": CMO, BharatPe

BharatPe's latest ad 'Sirf Dukandaar ke Liye'

The campaign - 'BharatPe Lagao, Dhandha Badhao' - by the QR code-based payment app, aims to start a movement to empower shopkeepers and retailers to accept payments from any digital wallet for free. It also enables them to take loans whenever needed, without any paperwork or processing fee.

"Want to build a relationship with shop owners": CMO, BharatPe

Abhishek Shah

Abhishek Shah, chief marketing officer, BharatPe tells afaqs!, "The campaign targets small, mid-sized retailers and shop owners and addresses their pain-points by offering them simple and easy-to-use solutions for their everyday needs. We wanted to move ahead from a cashback-based transactional association with the shop owners and invest in building long term relationships with them."

However, the communication is not exactly unique for the market segment. Digital wallet company MobiKwik's ad, 'Be a smart dukandaar' used a similar tone to lure shopkeepers and retailers.

"Want to build a relationship with shop owners": CMO, BharatPe

'Be a smart dukandaar' ad by MobiKwik

BharatPe is banking on celebrity endorsement to reach out to its TG and roped in Salman Khan as its ambassador in May 2019.

Talking about getting Khan on board, Shah says, "The kind of following and impact he has on the masses is second to none. BharatPe's synergy with Salman Khan lies in the fact that we are both determined to serve Bharat, the real India."

Featuring celebrities to communicate isn't an original move in this category. Not so long ago, e-commerce payment system PhonePe launched a campaign, '#DadduGublu' for IPL 2019 with Aamir Khan as its face.

"Want to build a relationship with shop owners": CMO, BharatPe

PhonePe ad featuring Aamir Khan

"Want to build a relationship with shop owners": CMO, BharatPe

No wallet top-up ad by PhonePe

"Want to build a relationship with shop owners": CMO, BharatPe

PhonePe - Instant Bank to Bank Transfer

BharatPe offers merchants a single interface for all Unified Payment Interface (UPI) apps such as Paytm, PhonePe, Google Pay, BHIM, MobiKwik and FreeCharge. It enables offline merchants to accept digital payments via any service running on the UPI, directly to his/her bank account.

The year-old brand (launched in 2018) aims to reach the target base of 40 lakh merchants by the end of 2019. Shah reveals that the brand currently manages over 15 per cent of overall merchant UPI transactions in the country, facilitating over five lakh transactions each day. Currently, BharatPe's total payments are valued at $650 million.

The pan-India campaign by the brand will be launched across TV, print, radio, digital and social, followed by other BTL activities, with a major focus on metros. It has been conceptualised by Mumbai-based advertising and marketing agency, Fatmen.

Here's what the experts think:

"Want to build a relationship with shop owners": CMO, BharatPe

Gulshan Singh

"Want to build a relationship with shop owners": CMO, BharatPe

Mukund Raina

Gulshan Singh, national planning director, FCB Interface is of the opinion that the brand is aiming to build up a critical mass of sellers and is counting on the network effect to lure in consumers. This isn't totally new - OLX followed this approach for years with their 'Bech De' tagline and Paytm's tie-up with Uber helped drive adoption within that target group.

"Roping in Salman Khan will help them with mass appeal. But I don't really see any fit with the product/service offering, beyond a very tenuous one with his recent movie," he says.

Commenting on the effectiveness of the communication, he says, "There are signs of 'app fatigue', making it tougher to get people to download, retain and use apps - and it is a huge barrier for BharatPe to overcome. To be truly effective and drive mass conversions, it needs to put the network effect in play. This campaign will have to be backed by a solid on-ground program to get sellers on-board. Also needed are multiple executions to retain mindshare without inducing execution fatigue."

Mukund Raina, Delhi branch head, Enormous Brands says, "Up until now, phone-based payment apps were building the demand side and would speak to consumers only. BharatPe's campaign brings the ecosystem for the merchant community into focus. As regards the celebrity endorsement, having a big name to endorse the brand is but expected - it brings the brand an instant boost and recall among the consumers."

"It is too early to comment on the effectiveness of the campaign. The creative could have revealed a little more about the product, its features and benefits," Raina adds.