Saumya Tewari

"'Dowry Calculator' is a new way of looking at an old problem": Aditya Save, chief marketing officer,

By pranking its customers through an innovative dowry calculator, the matrimonial website gives a savvy twist to the age-old social evil.

Dowry, the deeply ingrained social evil, is often associated with arranged marriages. The regressive tradition has been spoken of in abundance, but occurrences of crime against women for dowry has been rampant. The issue was resurrected on social media recently, when leading matrimonial website promoted a tweet from its official handle asking - "Want to know how much Dowry you're worth?', with a link mentioned in it. The tweet instantly caught everybody's attention; while some thought the site has added a feature for its clientele, those who bothered to click on the link were in for a surprise.

The link took users to Shaadi Cares microsite, a social initiative by to tackle issues including child marriage, dowry and domestic abuse. 'Shaadi Cares' is a follow-up to the company's social initiative 'Angry Brides', which was launched in 2012.

"'Dowry Calculator' is a new way of looking at an old problem": Aditya Save, chief marketing officer,
The landing page features a well-dressed man asking users to click on a button which takes them to the calculator. The calculator features parameters such as age, education qualification, monthly salary, profession and location to be entered by the user. Much to the user's dismay, the result is a small (yet significant) number. It is then revealed that the figure actually represents the number of dowry deaths reported in the country between 2001 and 2012.
"'Dowry Calculator' is a new way of looking at an old problem": Aditya Save, chief marketing officer,
Launched on April 29, the calculator has, so far, fetched over 20 lakh participation. Apart from the game, the site allows users to nominate 'Champions' who have survived or worked on anti-dowry initiatives. The site mentions two non-profit partner organisations - Stree Mukti Sanghatana (SMS) and Love Commandos, a voluntary organisation that encourages marriages and alliances that challenge conventions of caste or religion. Users can also contribute to the the cause.

Designed and executed by the in-house team of, the campaign has found appreciation and support from digital natives. Although targetted at raising awareness; the initiative is being promoted with a clickbait headline and introduction, which is confusing users resulting in negative sentiments towards Shaadi. One cannot help but notice the risk that the matrimonial platform has taken, talking about the subject so openly and also risking its brand equity in an agile medium like digital.

"'Dowry Calculator' is a new way of looking at an old problem": Aditya Save, chief marketing officer,
Aditya Save, chief marketing officer,, admits that risk is always involved in anything new that one decides to do. The campaign's objective was to introduce a new way of looking at an old problem (dowry) and attract user attention to it. It aimed at educating responsible citizens by revealing shocking findings - the untimely death of over 8000 women every year due to the evils of dowry.

"Such causes need people to ask tough questions to themselves and society, and, in many cases, it does give you tough reactions," he says, explaining that a lot of people did not open the calculator and therefore felt negatively towards the initiative.

"If you go back to those threads of conversation on social media, people who actually went to check the calculator appreciated it, and they were the ones who corrected people attacking it. It was satisfying for us that we have created something which is allowing people to speak for the cause," he adds.

Save believes that the real challenge behind Shaadi Cares, as an initiative, is to challenge conformist behaviour that people tend to have.

The platform, launched in 1996, is clearly speaking to an internet-educated audience through this initiative. But, does the tech-savvy TG need to be educated about social evils like dowry?

"Anything that society accepts is transferred from generation to generation as a norm," notes Save, adding that they are speaking to a generation which is being affected by this social evil and is capable of starting a process of change.

"These are the people who can make tomorrow different from what today is," he states.

According to data provided by the company, the male:female ratio (16:84 per cent) of users who have interacted with/mentioned Shaadi Cares online has a clear imbalance. Are males not taking up the issue online?

Save says that Shaadi Cares is not seen by many men, but they choose not to comment on it. On the other hand, because the issue is dowry-related, more women tend to voice their opinions on it online. However, he strongly disagrees to the view that it is the sole responsibility of males to come out against the practice.

The initiative has an on-ground leg as well. After it has garnered attention digitally, individuals and social organisations have volunteered to lend their voice to the cause.

The Dowry Calculator initiative has garnered over 70 million impressions across social media and has already been tried in over 160 countries. It has received over 280 thousand page views, with an average time spent of one minute.

"'Dowry Calculator' is a new way of looking at an old problem": Aditya Save, chief marketing officer,
"'Dowry Calculator' is a new way of looking at an old problem": Aditya Save, chief marketing officer,, part of People Group, is one of India's early internet consumer companies. The digital landscape has changed drastically over the last decade and now, with the advent of social media, websites and dating sites like Tinder entering the Indian market, has Shaadi's userbase shrunk?

Save denies it, saying that the TG does not overlap. While apps like Tinder and social media platforms are for people in the early 20s, still forming opinions on the compatibility front with others, usually comes in the picture when one has confirmed intent to get married, he explains.

"Dating has, now, social legitimacy and it is accepted, and that allows people to explore what kind of people they want to get along with. These apps are helping one to discover the right kind of people making users confident of their choices about their future partners, which is where we come into play," he adds.

While mobile is becoming an increasingly crucial part of's overall strategy, the web presence continues to provide significant chunk of traffic, considering a lot of registered users are parents.

The company currently has 30 million members (70 per cent Indians and 30 non-resident Indians between the age group of 21 and 35 years). While 70 per cent profiles are self-posted, 30 per cent are posted by parents and siblings. It offers free memberships, allowing members to put up profiles, while Premium ones come with three, six and 12 month options. Globally, the company claims to have helped over 3.2 million people find their matches.

Have news to share? Write to us