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 Shaadi.com 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 Shaadi.com 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.
Designed and executed by the in-house team of Shaadi.com, 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.
"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.
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, Shaadi.com 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 Shaadi.com'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.