Namah Chawla

We did see gains but it was not as expected: Lucky Saini on Meesho’s maiden IPL campaign

The homegrown e-commerce player’s IPL 2022 association aimed to unlock men as its target audience.

Homegrown e-commerce platform Meesho was one of the on-air broadcast partners on Star Sports network for Tata IPL 2022. It was also the official online shopping partner for four IPL teams – Mumbai Indians, Royal Challengers Bangalore, Rajasthan Royals, and Gujarat Titans – this year.

Through this maiden IPL association which included trouser branding for the teams, Meesho attempted to reach out to male consumers and sellers. In an interview with afaqs!, Lucky Saini, VP and head of brand, Meesho talks about the association with the sports property, growing its male TG, media mix, and whether the brand will slash media spends on account of funding cuts.

Edited excerpts:

IPL 2022 just concluded and Meesho had broadcast association with the property, this year. How well did this association work for Meesho and was the brand able to achieve the set objectives of this campaign?

IPL was one of our big bets this year. The midterm objectives that the brand had for the IPL campaign were to increase the awareness levels, build on the inclusivity pitch and to communicate that Meesho is a horizontal platform for men, women and kids. This year, it was sports as a choice, because IPL and cricket are big in terms of viewership. Meesho will continue to look at opportunities strategically to build rapid awareness through impact properties like sports, fiction and reality shows.

In the midterm, we did see a growth in the awareness levels, specifically from male audiences, which was the primary target of the campaign. There are a couple of external factors to this year’s IPL like it did not perform at the expected levels in terms of ratings. It received about 25% lower than last year’s rating. Meesho has seen gains but it was not as expected. However, it’s definitely a long-term play and a lot of residual awareness will build up and help us take it forward in the next campaign.

What are markets where you have gaps in and are you focusing on for the next phase of your growth?

Meesho is witnessing growth across the board and not just from a particular pocket. But we have very strong affinity growth happening from Tier II, III and IV towns in India. This growth is also reaching the rural segment where we have very strong brand awareness, consideration measures and monthly active users.

We have a very healthy brand and awareness in metros and Tier I cities. However, the fight is tougher in the big cities because there are a lot of brands competing here and there are slightly more evolved shoppers in metros, specifically. So, consumers have far higher expectations and a number of brands to consider for every shopping need.

What would be the split of women versus men users on the platform? And why is it that you are focusing on men right now?

In terms of our journey from being a social commerce platform which is very women focused and majority of the sellers were women from Tier II plus cities who were starting their businesses as housewives. If you look at the way our brand is structured, the identity, the colours and the tonality reflect that in some way.

Now, we wanted to unlock men, that is a very big segment for e-commerce. So, we have an advantage because we already have a very strong women user base and now with the IPL male specific campaign, we are trying to include them in the fold. It is a very logical and natural flow to be a horizontal platform.

The returns in categories like apparel and footwear are very high - what steps are you taking to address this problem?

Returns is not just Meesho’s problem, but it depends on how e-commerce players behave for the fashion category. A variety of factors like lack of touch and feel, proper descriptions, expectations of buyers when they shop for fashion and accessories leads to high returns. Meesho is taking the right steps to ensure quality perceptions so that it is easy and structured for people to search for products and get the right sense of what they order. We are taking all efforts to ensure that we minimise reasons for returns but there will definitely be some external factors out of our control.

What is your media mix for Meesho? Which medium provides the most promising returns?

At the brand building stage that we are, we want to maximise our awareness in a short span. It is known that no one medium can do the job. Of course, there are clear benefits of each medium. Meesho is very focused on using multimedia, contextually. And the platform chooses and picks in terms of maximising reach and adding on incremental leads through digital. Meesho is focussed on prioritising markets, cohorts and segments where we want to either get higher growth rate drive via frequency or maintain and sustain a number through digital as brands can hyper target geographies and segments there.

We continue to have an active social media playbook and will keep sharpening it to ensure that Meesho gets a full funnel benefit from awareness to acquisition. But the mix is balanced in terms of the digital and non digital platforms and we believe that’s the way to go for at least a year and a half till the brand reaches a point where it has top of mind and spontaneous awareness in the e-commerce space.

In what ways is Meesho using influencer marketing and is the platform able to see conversions take place through it?

Influencers play a big role in categories like beauty, personal care and fashion accessories. These are the categories where influencers enjoy a large credibility and follower base. We have a very active marketing play in these categories and have been using influencers for YouTube hauls. A very large number of consumers actually come to the platform through these YouTube haul videos and other influencer activities. Influencers play a key role in driving credibility because people look at them as authentic information providers. We are also betting big YouTube Shorts and using other social media platforms like Moj, MX TakaTak in a big way because a lot of traction is happening on these short video platforms.

Meesho is reportedly looking to cut costs and the company’s fundraising plans are on hold. Will this have any impact on your marketing budget for the year?

This is not just Meesho’s story but the external environment has become such that everybody is focusing on a lot more efficiency. For us, brand building is a long-term play and we will be consistently spending on it from now to the next campaign and onwards. We will of course, rationalise and ensure that we have the best take aways happening on the data, markets and places where Meesho wants to get better growth. That is a principle to be applied, irrespective of budget cuts or not. It is not like we have a mandate from top that there is a slash in the marketing budget.

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