Saumya Tewari

Bigbasket aims to go mass with Shah Rukh Khan

Soon after its competitor Grofers launched a campaign, Bigbasket unveiled its new brand identity and rolled out a TV campaign featuring Shah Rukh Khan. Will audiences buy into his charm?

Stocking up groceries is his "role at home," quips Shah Rukh Khan in Bigbasket's television commercial launched a week after its competitor (Grofers) launched a TV campaign. With Khan in the lead, Bigbasket has unveiled a fresh brand identity. Executed by Pentagon Communications, the ad features Khan as a customer of Bigbasket who not just orders the grocery, but also receives the delivery, much to the (pleasant) surprise of the delivery boys.

Bigbasket aims to go mass with Shah Rukh Khan

While Khan backing an online grocery platform may seem peculiar to some, the company seems to have a singular aim - to go mass. After receiving $50 million funding, led by Bessemer Venture Partners, in August this year, Bigbasket is planning to expand to 50 non-metro cities by the end of this year. The choice, thus, of a big Bollywood face seems justified.

Bigbasket aims to go mass with Shah Rukh Khan
Bigbasket aims to go mass with Shah Rukh Khan
Vipul Parekh, co-founder, Bigbasket, says that the company has grown at an unprecedented pace over the last couple of years. "We've added new business lines, expanded our product lines and added more cities to our roster. As we elevate our company into a new growth orbit, we felt it apt to bring a versatile icon like Shah Rukh Khan on board as the brand ambassador to propel us forward," he explains.

Bigbasket's core TG comprises those in the 25-60 age group who value convenience. Their key motivators for coming to Bigbasket, Parekh informs, are the fact that they can get a much wider range of products (15,000 SKUs at Bigbasket versus 1,000-3,000 SKUs at a local store) and get them delivered home at a time of their choice. Competitive pricing is another motivator, he adds.

The company, which acquired delivery startup Delyver in June this year, is slated to launch a one-hour express delivery feature in all the cities it operates in. It also plans to launch 'Speciality Stores' offering unique merchandise. Bigbasket had recently launched premium coffee under its brand and is all set to serve a few more exclusive products in the days to come.

While there are a number of startups in the online grocery space, consulting firm Technopak's report on 'E-tailing in India - Unlocking the Potential' paints a rather grim picture of this segment. The report predicts that food and grocery (which forms 67 per cent of the total Indian retail market) will not migrate to e-tailing.

The report further states that corporatised retail (of which e-tailing is a sub-set) will grow from the current level of 7 per cent of the total retail market to around 20 per cent by 2021. Of this 20 per cent, e-tailing will only constitute 5.3 per cent (worth USD 76 billion) because food and grocery will continue to sell through traditional retail.

It argues that, globally, e-tailers have struggled to develop a successful business model for food and grocery e-tailing. Consumer behaviour, product life cycles and supply chain issues relating to sourcing and storage are some of the reasons why this segment has not found a viable e-tailing route. In India, these issues are even more complex and only three per cent of the grocery retail is organised.

Bigbasket was started in December 2011 in Bengaluru by VS Sudhakar, Hari Menon, Vipul Parekh, VS Ramesh and Abhinay Choudhari. It claims to offer a catalogue of over 15,000 products including fresh fruits and vegetables, grocery and staples, meats, personal care, and home and kitchen products. The platform has a presence in Mumbai, Hyderabad, Pune, Chennai and Delhi-NCR. It aims to serve 35 cities by March 2016.

The online supermarket competes with players like Grofers, AskMe (which acquired the online grocery marketplace, Godrej Group's Nature's Basket,, FreshWorld, LocalBanya and Amazon India's KiranaNow, among others.

A Good Match?

Bigbasket aims to go mass with Shah Rukh Khan
Bigbasket aims to go mass with Shah Rukh Khan
Bigbasket aims to go mass with Shah Rukh Khan
Saurabh Uboweja, CEO, Brands of Desire, says that while Khan adds glamour to the ad, the script and execution make it "extremely believable."

Does Khan induce an aspirational feel? Uboweja doesn't think so. "Big Basket is not a premium brand," he asserts, adding, "The intent is to demonstrate that shopping groceries online is a real proposition and everybody could benefit from it."

In his opinion, Bigbasket scores higher than its competitor Grofers, purely because of its believability and tight execution of a difficult concept.

Pratik Gupta, co-founder and director - new business & innovations, FoxyMoron, believes that while the campaign is not clutter-breaking, it reaches out to the right audience. According to him, the timing and the choice of brand endorser is 'bang on'.

"Shah Rukh has a mass appeal. He has been awfully silent for a while, and it is interesting for consumers to see him in such a category," he notes.

Asked whether the absence of a female character in the ad seems odd, Gupta reasons that in larger households in tier II and III cities, usually internet access and card payments are done by men.

"Women there are not frequent users as compared to their peers in tier I and, therefore, it makes sense to show a male protagonist," he says.

Divyapratap Mehta, founder and chief twiner, Intertwined also believes that Shah Rukh Khan brings 'scale' to the brand because of his mass appeal.

"Khan ordering groceries subtly communicates the ease provided by the platform. He is loved by a lot of possible women who could be future consumers of Big Basket," he notes.

Mehta thinks that Grofers is vacating their position from being an E-Grocery solution to a delivery company while Bigbasket is almost inviting consumers to join a community and turn into a Bigbasketeer.

His only gripe with both the brands is they do not address why a consumer should choose them over other retail channels.

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