Deepashree Banerjee
Points of View

Grofers takes on the supermarket; hard-sells price factor

In a new spot, online grocer Grofers spells out why it's cheaper than the offline supermarket.

Online grocery delivery platform Grofers' latest commercial (created by Lowe Lintas) breaks down the brand's discount game. The brand also pits itself hard against its offline rivals, the hypermarkets. The brand has resorted to hard-selling its proposition of offering a better deal against the 'sadharan' (common) hypermarket. We say 'sadharan' because of the split-screen visual in the ad film that dates back to the ages when branded toothpaste was touted to kill 99.99 per cent of germs, against a common alternative.

Grofers takes on the supermarket; hard-sells price factor

Gurugram-based online grocery startup Grofers takes a clear dig at the hypermarkets in its recent ad

However, it's not the first time that Grofers has pitted itself against organised-retail. This time, however, it went a step further by clarifying how it sells products cheaper. By being online, the brand cuts physical showroom maintenance costs and also avoids middlemen. This way, Grofers should still make a profit while offering discounts and still leverage it to convert regular FMCG consumers to its users.

In its last ad, Grofers clearly spoke to the homemaker with its "SuperMrs ka SuperMarket" tagline. This time the target audience seems to be the modern-day urban nuclear family which makes an occasion out of grocery shopping.

A 2018 report by the India Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF) of the Department of Commerce, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India, suggests that India's retail market is expected to increase by 60 per cent to reach US$ 1.1 trillion by 2020. It is set to ride on factors like rising incomes and lifestyle changes of the middle class as well as increased digital connectivity. Online retail sales are forecasted to grow at a rate of 31 per cent year-on-year to reach US$ 32.70 billion in 2018.

Grofers takes on the supermarket; hard-sells price factor

SuperMrs ka SuperMkt, the 2017 ad where the Masayoshi Son-led SoftBank brand took up a similar narrative

According to the IBEF report, it is estimated that 40 per cent of all FMCG consumption in India will be online by 2020 and the online FMCG market is forecasted to reach US$ 45 billion in 2020 from US$ 20 billion in 2017. In the native domain, Grofers would be a direct competitor to platforms like BigBasket and the race is getting tougher with strong-arm players like Flipkart, Amazon and even Swiggy grappling for a share.

However, on a different note, an ad like this is a break from the causevertising wave and the course-correction leads to the hard-sell method. Again, the short IPL ad breaks could also be the reason for putting an end or possibly a temporary pause on the cause-brigade.

Over to the experts:

Vivek Dutta, Executive Planning Director, Hakuhodo India

Grofers takes on the supermarket; hard-sells price factor

Vivek Dutta

Online grocery shopping is still at a nascent stage in India. The challenge in this category is huge, especially when the need is to challenge traditions. Choice and Convenience is what shifted the consumers from the traditional kirana store to the supermarket. I think it was important for the brand to sharply highlight the pain and struggle involved in supermarket shopping and present itself as a solution that provides both convenience and savings at the same time.

Gofers currently has the edge over competitors. Having said that, in order to maintain its edge, it needs to continuously innovate its value proposition. The current campaign is a very appropriate intervention that reiterates Grofers' position and proposition.

Direct Messaging is not necessarily "hard Selling". This communication would be targeting to recruit consumers who are more inclined to supermarket shopping. Also, it's too early to term it as a shift. I think we can expect more communication based on consumer value proposition if this communication manages to fulfil business objectives for the brand.

Prabhakar Mundkur, Brand Strategy Adviser

Grofers takes on the supermarket; hard-sells price factor

Prabhakar Mundkur

I think spelling out the details is support or 'a reason why' for their claim. They are clearly focussing on rations. They use that word and thereby, make the claim that when it comes to rations, they are better than your average supermarket.

Personally, I don't think causevertising works in the retail sector. The sector is still young and so are the brands here. They still need to establish themselves using very rational reasons to choose them. And rational reasons unfortunately, make for hard-sell advertising.

I don't think there are any thumb rules in advertising. Retail is a new sector for us and I think ad agencies are still experimenting with what works best. But retail brands are not looking at building brands; their main promise still revolves around better deals and their thinking is still very short-term.

Santosh Mutalik, Co-Founder and CCO, Haapus Creative

Grofers takes on the supermarket; hard-sells price factor

Santosh Mutalik

E-commerce grocery retail brands, including Grofers, offer unbelievable prices. For many, such low prices could raise apprehensions about the quality of goods, i.e. how can they offer such prices, is there a compromise etc.

This ad seems to explain and justify the reasons behind the low prices. It seems defensive, but maybe the brand had reasons to justify it. This communication will grow the grocery e-commerce pie, i.e. take the share from supermarkets and help all e-commerce grocery brands. It is not aimed at a rival brand. To that extent, it is a generic category communication, rather than a brand-specific USP being highlighted.

This is a general day-to-day use category. Causevertising may be suited for some categories, but for general merchandise buying, it has to be a tangible hard-sell of - "Why me".

When the e-commerce grocery push started, discounts were the edge offered by the players. It has now become hygiene. Shouting 'discount' alone does not provide an edge. Hence, the shift to - "how do we offer it better." Different e-commerce brands have taken different routes to highlight how they are better; for example, BigBasket seems to have shifted their entire focus on the superiority of their product (carefully picked, certified etc.) and also, promoting their private label brands. To that extent, their long association with a celebrity (SRK) is a deal sweetener.

At the other end, Big Bazaar, the big daddy of grocery, went with causevertising, of sorts, very recently, but with a very strong captive product support, viz. physically handicap-friendly stores.

Jagdish Acharya, Founder, Creative Head, Cut The Crap

Grofers takes on the supermarket; hard-sells price factor

Jagdish Acharya

There is little consumer loyalty for the retail brands - be it the BigBaskets or Big Bazaars. Price and offers can make consumers shift from click to brick and vice versa. Grofers echoes the brick ecosystem more closely. Better value than a supermarket is, therefore, a focused assault. Much like the 'ingredient story' of FMCG products, price also needs a supporting argument for credibility. The 'reason how' by Grofers, is a feeble one - since they are the middlemen themselves. The ad is well made. The humour is catchy too.

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