Aishwarya Ramesh

“Want to disrupt the notion that only branded items are of good quality”: Snapdeal's Soumyadip Chatterjee

Snapdeal is out with a campaign after a four-year hiatus. We spoke to the e-comm company's marketing director.

After a four-year-long hiatus, e-commerce company Snapdeal has released a new campaign. The campaign is titled 'Brand Waali Quality, Bazaar Waali Deal'. It includes two ad films that star Bollywood couple Riteish and Genelia Deshmukh.

Snapdeal attempts to take a humorous route in this campaign. It takes a dig at the common consumer thought that a product can be good only if it is branded.

In the films, we see Riteish ask people about the brand of human features. In one ad, it’s a little girl’s kind heart and, in the other, it’s the mother’s hand that cooks delicious food. Conceptualised and developed in partnership with All things small and EO2, Snapdeal’s “Brand Waali Quality, Bazaar Waali Deal'' will reach out to consumers pan-India.

According to a press note, the campaign is based on consumer insights gathered through extensive research. The users consistently seek a predictable experience on quality, assortment, price and service.

Snapdeal claims that the solution is that the entire assortment on its platform is aligned with the basic tenets of value e-commerce – good quality products at low prices. With this campaign, Snapdeal is attempting to reaffirm its position in the value e-commerce space.

To understand the space and Snapdeal’s plan better, we caught up with its marketing head Soumyadip Chatterjee. He explained to us that the objective of the campaign was a direct approach to brand quality, as opposed to product quality.

Soumyadip Chatterjee
Soumyadip Chatterjee

“We’re trying to disrupt this notion that Indian customers have – that if a product is of good quality, valuable in its own way, it must be expensive, or it must be a branded product. That’s the presumption we’re trying to address here.”

Tracing the journey of the campaign, Chatterjee says that through their research, they found that e-commerce in India has primarily been brand-centric. It often forces the customers to make a trade-off between good quality and low prices.

“They could opt to pay a higher price for a predictable standard of quality, or they could pay a lower price, but be unsure of the quality of the product they will eventually receive. That’s the gap we’re trying to bridge. We’re trying to make sure that the customer doesn’t have to choose between paying a low price and getting a good quality product.”

He explains that people with high brand orientation buy brands for a certain utility and usage. They’re looking at value for money products for different usages.

“Some consumers don’t have the disposable income to buy, say, a shirt, which costs around Rs 1,000-Rs 2,000. So, they look at buying a set of shirts, which is more value for money for them. That’s what we try to offer.”

However, the Indian consumer is a sceptic – and tends to be distrustful of brands that offer steep discounts. When asked about how he would build trust and bring these consumers into the fold, he says that the only way to build brand trust is through predictability – of price and product quality.

"When e-commerce entered India, the early cohort was largely homogeneous, English-speaking and brand-oriented with high disposable income."
Soumyadip Chatterjee, Snapdeal

“That’s why we used the metaphor of a local bazaar. E-commerce, as you know, is a fast growing and rapidly evolving market. But when it started, the early cohort was largely homogeneous, English-speaking and brand-oriented with high disposable income.”

“Since data rates got slashed, the new cohort of Indians coming online has displayed a lot of heterogeneity. They don’t speak the same language, they come from different geographies, and have different income levels. They have brand awareness, but their disposable income to buy branded items is limited. We are looking to offer value to this audience.”

The market for value retail in India is estimated at $210 billion, which is three times that of branded retail. Depending on the category, while 15-40 per cent of the branded market is already online, only 2-3 per cent of the unbranded, value merchandise is online.

"Since data rates got slashed, the audience has displayed heterogeneity. They don’t speak the same language, they come from different geographies"
Soumyadip Chatterjee, Snapdeal

Will the strategy work for Snapdeal?

Amar Wadhwa, founder and executive director, Crystal Eyes Consulting, believes this campaign will end up doing big disservice to a struggling brand.

“At a strategic level, the campaign line 'Brand Waali Quality, Bazaar Waali Deal' reinforces the belief that you don't get good brands on Snapdeal, you get rip-offs. In any case, e-commerce sites are supposed to give deals that are better than what you get in the bazaar. It’s a very convoluted way of saying that you get great value deals on Snapdeal.”

Amar Wadhwa
Amar Wadhwa

Wadhwa, before co-founding Crystal Eyes consultancy handled brand strategy at Cheil Worldwide for South Asia. He adds that one would have expected sharper strategy from the brand, something that could set it apart. Something real and tangible that the consumer could latch on to and the brand could own.

Wadhwa is unhappy with the creative execution of the ads too. The ads lack energy, the situations are very uninspired and unconnected with products available on Snapdeal, and the celebrity couple a misfit for the strategy, he adds.

“Overall, I’ll be charitable and give it 2 on 10,” he signs off.

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