Tag Archives: FReal Estate Advertising

Igniting marketing with ad push amidst slowdown

Posted on by Track2Realty

Realty Ad, FReal Estate Advertising, India real estate news, Indian realty news, Property new, Home, Policy Advocacy, Activism, Mall, Retail, Office space, SEZ, IT/ITeS, Residential, Commercial, Hospitality, Project, Location, Regulation, FDI, Taxation, Investment, Banking, Property Management, Ravi Sinha, Track2Media, Track2RealtyTrack2Realty Exclusive: Till very recently, unlike several other industries, real estate used to take a back seat in times of a sluggish market or when there was some controversy around. Any negative market sentiment or slowdown more often than not led to newspapers’ property supplements growing thinner and vacant hoardings in and around city becoming common. Prima facie it was seen to be a sales driven exercise where real estate companies’ approach has been to advertise for selling their product and not creating a brand icon. But that seems to be only half the truth in today’s context as the sector is doling out more money for advertising despite slowdown.

Track2Realty Brand X Report 2013-14 feels the sector has learnt with trial and error that it is very vital to have the continuous branding in the market even though a project is sold at the time of launch itself. It will help as brand recall value when the next project will be launched.

Newspaper advertisements, television commercials, billboards, radio jingles, B2B events and cinema…it seems the Indian real estate has gone over-board to capture the attention of the home buyers. Are we really reeling under the slowdown? Going by the advertising and marketing push of the real estate developers during the last one year one wonders whether market slowdown is more a case of mind over the matter.

The fact, however, remains that in a bear market most developers are not inclined to hibernate like bears as a strategy for self-preservation. Be they a DLF, Raheja, Purvankara or Sobha, their modus operandi seems to borrow from feline superstition: if they have nine lives, they are going to spend them all building or go bankrupt trying.

As a result, the developers are spending heavily on advertising and branding to ignite marketing than resign to the fate and wait for the economic turnaround. Facts speak for themselves. As per the TAM data the ads jumped 30 per cent on television in the first six months of 2013, compared with the same period last year. The industry estimates suggest nearly same level of increase in ad spend has been noticed with the print media as well during the year. This raises a fundamental question as to whether this is reflective of rising inventory and hence distress among the developers.

A section of analysts tracking the property market don’t think so. They believe in times of real distress either the developers resort to freebies & discounts or the property prices simply crash. That is not the case in many of the major property markets across the country. Others believe as the market is down the inventory is rising up, it has become difficult for the developer to push on sales by purely giving discounts and freebies to customers. Higher brand value is actually helping developers to create higher sales as compared to developers with lesser recall value. After all, the customers do not wish to buy property with lesser known developers, and the brand value that identifies trust factor is paramount.

Moreover, contrary to the general perception that the desperate need to sale is leading the developers to advertise at the project level and sell quickly, a thorough study on the advertising done in the 20 key markets indicates ad spends are both brand specific and project specific. In any case, the creatives also suggest that both are aimed at enhancing value for the brand. The developers maintain that it has always been felt that slow moving market actually needs more ad spends for sales. Even if a developer is cost conscious to spend in proportionate to sales, the ad spends are nowadays being planned to not only increase the sales but also to create a brand value.

The country’s largest developer DLF maintains that slowdown has been over-projected in the media, and hence such apprehensions with the ad spend of the sector. DLF spokesman Sanjey Roy says that market is witness to a healthy transaction, but only for the developers who are offering right product in the right market at the right price point. They are the developers who are advertising irrespective of the overall sentiments prevailing in the market.

“Every adversity also brings opportunity and the developers who have learnt their lessons well are the ones who are back in the business with fine balancing of sales and marketing activities. Yes, the slowdown might have hurt some of the companies more than others, but from the perspective of advertising and branding of the sector, seasoned players with good track record are advertising the way they used to, forcing serious newcomers in the ring to match in order to get noticed,” says Roy.

Rajesh Vardhan, MD, Vardhman Group maintains that there is slowdown in the sector, but the marketing activities done for the projects will never slowdown. It is seen from a long term perspective and with the marketing of the projects the companies are creating their own brand value. This trend remains the same whether it is bull market or the bear market. He maintains that the developers have seen the worst period in this sector, so it is bound to see better times.

“Building a marketing strategy requires looking at the whole picture; it is not just about increasing sales, but to create greater recall value. There is a need of creating a strong brand value. Such brand building activities then help the developer to get better prices for their property. It also creates a good perception on the buyers’ side. Developers now believe in carrying a strong brand image in this sector,” says Vardhan.

Critics though maintain that the biggest challenge for any developer today is not just the prevailing market sentiment but the ‘perception’ of a ‘greedy builder’ who won’t be able to deliver, and hence increasing focus on branding. After all, when the market was bullish every Tom, Dick and Harry had this grand vision of being a developer and wanted to get into the game, whether their background was law or construction or media or medicine or just nothing. And there was no velvet rope to keep them out. Cash was easy to come by, inventory was being absorbed at miraculous rates, and irrational exuberance was the order of the day. And then the market fell off a cliff overnight.

So, the tactics that many of the developers with not so years of brand reputation adopted to remain solvent and relevant while they weathered the slowdown blues. Some others got back to the drawing board and focused on rescuing orphaned projects. The term ‘vulture real estate’ got thrown out and all out effort is now being made to get rid of the perception that they are just in it for the money. More importantly, the message that they want to be spread is that at least they have not gone belly up and still have the capacity and capability of execution.

Rahul Gaur, CMD of Brys Group maintains that the slowdown has also brought an end to gimmicks; credibility is being rewarded, and although the sector is witness to a new wave of advertising, it is rooted in a rationality that did not exist in the last cycle. People also understand that in a market with more transparency now and such tighter lending restrictions, only the best developers are still able to play the game.

“Though ad spend has increased our business model is to keep it realistic and not get overexposed like a lot of developers did in 2008-10 when things were frothy. You could see the writing on the wall as there were signs of trouble with the economy nose diving, lending getting tougher for the developers and the interest rates shooting up. There was not too much cheap money floating around; land prices were going up; and developers were starting to use margins they were not comfortable with. Now those developers who have weathered the crisis and have got wiser are the ones back with advertising bang with the realism that to brand and advertise does not mean selling the project instantly,” says Gaur.

A section of analysts agree that now the developers are picking the plan they feel is the most sustainable, with many even having the mentality to hold on through the bottom of the cycle, knowing they would have something solid to sell into a rising market once the crisis is over. Lalit Kumar Jain, CREDAI Chairman says in real estate brand is always built with delivery. Prompt delivery, transparency and meeting the promises made are always on top of the minds. However, with the rising competition, globalisation and virtualisation, consumers now have wide options and hence so much focus on the advertising and branding.

“We developers are creative in our own ways with newer designs and features. We have to keep reinventing the wheel to keep up customer satisfaction levels. These do reflect in our ad campaigns. In a weak market strong brand sales better due to reliability. Every crisis offers an opportunity to bounce back with added energy. A proper branding activity will play an important role. Nobody wants to take risks when the markets are weak. Reinforcing brand values helps maintain trust among customers. During this phase benefits from advertising are bare minimum, but it always helps in keeping us afloat in customers’ minds,” says Jain.

It has often been argued within the sector that in times of crisis, matured industries like FMCG (in the event of anti-cola campaign) get into a dynamic mode to take the bull by the horn. The realty companies were not doing the same till very recently. If there was a crisis in real estate and business got sluggish, developers generally waited for the market to return back to its bullish cycle. So, the companies used to wait and watch for the right moment to take the marketing communication across. That era of over-cautious pessimism seems to be over. At least the ad spend of the sector in the last over a year’s time seem to suggest so.

 

Scaling real estate on the promised 8 Ps-V

Posted on by Track2Realty

Realty Ad, FReal Estate Advertising, India real estate news, Indian realty news, Property new, Home, Policy Advocacy, Activism, Mall, Retail, Office space, SEZ, IT/ITeS, Residential, Commercial, Hospitality, Project, Location, Regulation, FDI, Taxation, Investment, Banking, Property Management, Ravi Sinha, Track2Media, Track2RealtyTrack2Realty Exclusive: Many luxury brands have a rich pedigree, seventh P of branding, and extraordinary history that become an inseparable part of the brand story. The mystique and the legend is generally built around the exceptional emotive founder character of past.

For example, when consumers buy Cartier or Louis Vuitton, it is not merely because of the product performance or quality. They are buying a lineage of the legendary people and the evolution history behind these brands.

In real estate, other than a handful of companies like DLF or Unitech, no other player has that lineage and they are trying to compensate with international tie-ups, right from the architects to Disney and iconic Trump. Still, from a home buyers’ perspective brand of the company that has built house does not matter much, though the reputation of the developer matters due to the fear factor of non-delivery or late delivery.

In retail, some of the malls have created that niche, but that is more about the market positioning of ‘only super luxury’ in the given mall and not the lineage of the mall per se.

Public Figure is the eighth P and the role of public-figure or celebrities endorsement can be observed to be more skewed towards the aspiring & accessible luxury brands. That said, it would be improper to conclude that high-end luxury brands do not bring into play the public figure factor; they are relatively less explicit & are largely PR-led, like accessorisation, product placements with celebs/movies.

Compared to other endorser types, public-figures achieve a relatively higher degree of attention and recall, for example Nicole Kidman for Chanel No. 5; Pierce Brosnan for Omega & SRK for Tag Heuer), thereby positively affecting consumer’s attitudes, brand value & purchase intention.

It seems the Indian real estate has gone overboard on this metric of branding and it is not just limited to celebrity endorsements or brand ambassadors from cricket to bollywood. They have actually tried to piggy ride on what captures public attention and hence case studies like DLF-IPL are also there. Industry trackers maintain it has helped some of the companies to spread into other geographical markets and also helped in sales with buyers being under the impression that their neighbours would be celebrities like Sushmita Sen or Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

It is questionable as to how far has the celebrity endorsement helped the companies to evolve in terms of brand. In some cases, it has actually driven away the prospective buyers who wanted a peaceful abode and not the glamour, security and unnecessary hassle in the apartment.

Having argued the branding metrics and scaling it on the given parameter of 8 Ps, it must, however, be noted that the catalyst to the first wave of the branding in the real estate has never been to enhance the user experience but to sell the product.

When the sector smelled the first flush of foreign funds, there had been a sudden rush to advertising overdrive to make sure the flow of money that every other developer is chasing comes their way.

The same kind of brand madness was seen when there was a rat race to raise money through the Initial Public Offerings (IPOs) for which every developer (even with projects confined to couple of cities) wanted to be seen as a national player in the eyes of the investors.

Much water has flown in this journey of branding for the real estate and the sector is still learning with the trial & error method of creating their brand.

Realty brand positioning not connecting with home buyers-IV

Posted on by Track2Realty

Realty Ad, FReal Estate Advertising, India real estate news, Indian realty news, Property new, Home, Policy Advocacy, Activism, Mall, Retail, Office space, SEZ, IT/ITeS, Residential, Commercial, Hospitality, Project, Location, Regulation, FDI, Taxation, Investment, Banking, Property Management, Ravi Sinha, Track2Media, Track2RealtyTrack2Realty Survey: In this mismatch of segmentation, actual buyers are neglected in holistic branding of the company. However, it is the consumers who play a huge role in determining the credibility of a brand. It is not just the word of mouth publicity, or the lack of it, that is the reason to keep the promise to the customers; rather it also saves money to do crisis management against the negative campaign.

More than eight out of ten, 84 per cent, of the second time home buyers are not ready to buy the apartment with the same developer. Real estate companies that glorify their word of mouth publicity or the experiential marketing must take cognizance of this if they are really conscious of their brand reputation.

Additionally, this study noted that the trust deficit with the brand is so high in the sector that real estate professionals themselves don’t buy the flats of the developer with whom they work. This includes the sales team of the developer as well. The study among the employees of top 40 real estate companies in the given 20 cities found that nearly seven out of ten, as many as 68 per cent, of the real estate professionals have themselves bought the flats from other developers on referrals.

As far as top-of-the-mind recall value is concerned, home buyers could easily name the real estate companies whom they felt as the brands, but could hardly recall their projects. While 80 per cent of the buyers easily rated the companies in terms of their understanding about them as ‘brand’ based on their perception of ‘brands’, not even half of them could recall more than 4 projects of each developer.

This is as much a reality with the national players as with the local developers. It is a reminder call for the real estate sector, especially since most of the advertising budget is spent on the project branding during the recent slowdown, and very less on the corporate branding.

From where do the home buyers get information about the dream home that they wish to buy? Here again it seems the real estate branding and advertising is directionless as the community character of the Indian buyers has been the primary reason to bring buyer to the developer. Nearly seven out of ten, no less than 66 per cent, prefer to buy through the common contacts’ reference where their own community (social/professional) has already bought it. This trend is as much visible among the first time buyers as with the repeat buyers.

For a developer, a broker or real estate agent may be an important cog in the marketing wheel, but for an average Indian home buyer he is just a medium to get to the desired destination. More than eight out of ten, 82 per cent, home buyers go to a broker only when they have sorted out the locality and the few projects on offer in the given location.

Branding of the broker has no real value with nearly all, as many as 88 per cent, not bothered about his clout per se. What matters to the home buyers, reasons why brokers are not out of the business for the home seekers is the kind of discount and freebies that they can offer, as against dealing directly with the builder. But brokers really lack on the trust quotient of the home buyers as three fourth of the home buyers, 75 per cent, find them misleading for reasons more than one.

Internet stands out as the second most important source of information for the home buyers. Nearly eight out of ten, 78 per cent, go for online search and a real estate agent or broker comes into the picture only when they have already short listed the few properties. For many of the grassroots companies, this is a point of philosophical departure from traditional marketing, which instead encourages real estate professionals to spend their marketing budget towards building their own brand and reputation as far and wide as possible.

However, buyers are smarter than the developers in the use of technology and howsoever the real estate companies may try to control their negative buyers through Online Reputation Management (ORM) or the Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) of their positive news, buyers’ online search is in-depth not only for information about the location and the project offering but also the reputation of the developers.

Nearly all internet savvy home buyers maintain, as many as 92 per cent, they would avoid a project where the existing customers are harassed by the developers or if there is a legal issue between the two sides.

…to be continued

Realty ads lack class, top creative agencies reluctant to serve the sector-II

Posted on by Track2Realty

Realty Ad, FReal Estate Advertising, India real estate news, Indian realty news, Property new, Home, Policy Advocacy, Activism, Mall, Retail, Office space, SEZ, IT/ITeS, Residential, Commercial, Hospitality, Project, Location, Regulation, FDI, Taxation, Investment, Banking, Property Management, Ravi Sinha, Track2Media, Track2RealtyTrack2Realty Exclusive: In one of the classic example, one of the advertising agency recently came out with a creative idea of suggesting the name of the project as 1947. The spacious luxury flat’s advertising was suggested to be played around the concept of freedom—from space crunch, parking mess, traffic snarls etc. with the tag line “when every lips had one word freedom this apartment was conceptualised”. Result: the agency was asked to get out of the hangover of being ‘creative’ or leave.

This raises the fundamental question as to whether the realty advertisements have any critical linkage to the overall brand philosophy of the company. Or is it just sheer expense to sell the project? Kamal Khetan, CMD of Sunteck Realty asserts that for brand communication, it is clearly performance that paves the way at every step that they take.

He maintains that if it is a listed entity then it is of utmost importance to maintain transparency with the governing bodies. Well defined philosophy enables the company to being recognized as one among the top listed real estate players.

The key aspect of brand communication is establishing, maintaining and sustaining the trust that the stakeholders have reposed in the given company. Constant and timely updates whether project or financial performance form part of the standard operating procedure for the company.

 “At Sunteck, we believe in observing minimalistic advertising spends. Any project communication goes through the routine process of first conducting a market research followed by campaign building based on the insights and followed by the campaign execution across collaterals. We have always maintained a focused and targeted approach and thus we reach our audience through our channel partners. We undertake channel partner initiatives and support them on ground. Our focus has been to undertake on ground initiatives much more than Above the Line Spends. The PR machinery serves the purpose of an endorsement and we channelize our efforts in communicating to the media about the projects,” says Khetan.

Devang Varma, Director, Omkar Realtors & Developers agrees that project advertising has the limitation of communicating a limited outlook of the brand whereas brand communication encompasses the overall communication canvas.

“Innovations are evolving over a period of time. Marketing communications function has laid stress on innovation and creativity while dealing with our stakeholders and public at large. For example, in second half of 2012, we unveiled our widely acknowledged OOH campaign – Mumbaipedia which was a very witty and creative take on colloquial terms prevalent in every day usage in Mumbai. It also included a witty take on subject matter associated with “Life in Mumbai”. Another innovation was a highly creative radio campaign for the launch of our luxury housing project in Malad East in Mumbai,” says Varma.

Girish Shah, VP, Marketing & Sales, Godrej Properties maintains that consistency and coherency at every touch point and engagement with the brand is the key to success than mere innovations. According to him, for Godrej Properties the brand values, tone and personality across projects or brand remains the same.

“Unlike other developers we believe in engaging with customers when he is the most receptive, ergo and hence we invest a lot in consumer engagement programs like theatre, golf, polo, art and music where in we get to interact with consumers,” says Shah.

Manoj John, VP, Corporate Planning & Strategy finds a reason for stale and repetitive advertising when he says real estate advertisements especially print media (where the highest amount of ad spend is concentrated) is very akin to car segment. Most of the car print ads would feature the car most prominently; all the other elements are just part of the setting or creating the environment in which the car is portrayed.

“Even when the target audience looks at the ad, his attention is almost always concentrated on the images (exterior shots, interior shots or of specific highlights of the particular model. Any other composition of print ad does not evoke interest or attention. The same goes for a real estate proposition, all that matters is the look of the building or the interiors of the apartment….well that is how the customers receive visual communication,” says John.

The developers by and large maintain that it is quite a task to break the accepted mode, and come up with a different visual representation of the product ‘my home’ or ‘my office’. Of late, some of the realtors have experimented with the campaign which uses emotions to represent the character of the apartment with no visual representation of the building. But by and large realty ads have been lacking innovation and aesthetic attraction in terms of the taglines, background colours, imagery used on the boards to create thoughtful campaign with crisp copy.

Curbing creative liberty to facelift real estate-II

Posted on by Track2Realty

Realty Ad, FReal Estate Advertising, India real estate news, Indian realty news, Property new, Home, Policy Advocacy, Activism, Mall, Retail, Office space, SEZ, IT/ITeS, Residential, Commercial, Hospitality, Project, Location, Regulation, FDI, Taxation, Investment, Banking, Property Management, Ravi Sinha, Track2Media, Track2RealtyTrack2Realty Exclusive: That small builders and fly-by-night operators in the business are the reason why the government is so concerned with the misleading advertisements. Often they advertise the project launch without even getting the mandatory license and in some cases home seekers hard earned money is lost.

With no entry barrier in the business, a clause against the misleading ads have been mooted to check such malpractices, reveals a Housing Ministry source requesting anonymity.

Sachin Sandhir, Managing Director, RICS, South Asia agrees that the proposed regulatory bill is biased and hence being opposed by the sector in its current form. There are a number of other loopholes such as this in the proposed bill.

The bill fails to address some key issues such as valuations, real market value and a number of other details. He, however, maintains that the jail term will deter the fly-by-night-operators within the built environment, who dupe customers.

“As per the guidelines, the advertisements should give correct information about the project. Many times there is a deviation from what is marketed and what is actually built. Often consumers want basic information. A mark of authentication would be to publish the licence number of the developer along with the advertisement. Organised developers are already doing this. Some state governments have already made it mandatory for developers to publish their licence numbers in their advertisement. It is a healthy practice and would bring transparency in the market,” says Sandhir.

But the developers also question that when the long pending demand for industry status to the housing sector, which is the second largest provider of the employment in the country, is not being granted why is sector is still absurdly getting a tag of highly unorganised.

They assert if the government’s intentions are right and growth oriented, a holistic solution of industry status is the way forward rather than knee jerk reactions like jail for misleading ads.

It is believed that any draconian provision of jail for advertisement would only hamper the growth of the sector, since the line that bifurcates in the collective consciousness between misleading and aspirational is very thin.

Moreover, if advertisements are being defined as how realistic it should be, then there should be a strict provision for all sectors to check any false commitments and wrong information through advertisements.

Curbing creative liberty to facelift real estate-I

Posted on by Track2Realty

Realty Ad, FReal Estate Advertising, India real estate news, Indian realty news, Property new, Home, Policy Advocacy, Activism, Mall, Retail, Office space, SEZ, IT/ITeS, Residential, Commercial, Hospitality, Project, Location, Regulation, FDI, Taxation, Investment, Banking, Property Management, Ravi Sinha, Track2Media, Track2RealtyTrack2Realty Exclusive: The realty sector may call it freeze of creative liberty but the proposed penalty clause in regulator bill on misleading ads can also bring much-needed facelift to the sector. Track2Realty takes up the issue with the industry representatives to understand why they are scared with the misleading ads clause in the proposed bill. Is it really about curbing the creativity or an attempt to rationalise over promises by the developers?

Aman Varma bought a house in one of the upmarket locations of Gurgaon, only to realise later that his quest for a dream home that was shown in the project advertising in one of the leading newspapers was just that—a dream.

Not only the project elevation that was showcased in the advertisement was fake but many specifications and features clearly defined in the ad were missing in the flat. Today, he repents his decision to go by the misleading advertisements, and not insist on drafting all promises with the offer document itself.

Aman is not alone who is the victim of misleading advertisement, nor is the real estate only sector where the creative liberty of showcasing aspiration is more often than not leading to false/misleading information. From a face wash that promises making you fairer overnight to a deodorant that claims to make women fall all over you with its fragrance, advertising is all about creating an aspiration which more often than not fails to live up to its tall claims and resultant expectations.

Why then real estate alone is being targeted in the name of misleading advertisement? A reported provision in the proposed law to regulate the real estate sector is to send individual or a company to jail for “misleading” advertisements. Another reported provision would not even allow a developer to put up a picture, other than that of the project.

As expected, the realty sector has reacted strongly against the freeze of creative liberty by the proposed regulator. They have termed the move as a retrograde and adversarial step for investment in the realty sector.

The developers’ grouse is that it would be open to misuse by a few corrupt officials. It is envisioned that any official, if one so feels and interprets it like that can call it misleading and book a criminal case against the company or an individual.

Lodging a strong opposition to any such proposal, the ASSOCHAM says if advertisements for all products and services are created on some aspirational attributes of the society and individuals, those aspirations as depicted in the advertisements can be real or can be purely “aspirational”.

“This is a very peculiar and not a constructive idea. If a realty project has to be hard-sold and a happy family is shown in the ad insertion, nothing should be perceived as misleading in it. The entire marketing of a large number of products is based on aspirations of consumers. How do you sell houses and commercial space only by showing the projects when they are in construction stage? Should the developers show only the concrete and iron and the labour on the site.” ASSOCHAM says.

Dr Anil Sharma, CMD of Amrapali Group and Vice President, CREDAI (Delhi-NCR) says the developers who have to be in the business have to be customer friendly to their precious buyers.

Most of the prominent developers clearly display the reliable information such as map approval, date of allotment, layout plan details along with artistic, real image, actual and construction site picture with any released advertisements that help readers and buyers to get a very true image of project while no other sector follows this ethical rule.

“It will make things so complicated and misleading to all if regulator will be allowed to judge advertisements by inexperienced person. It is a highly concerned matter, so it should be watched by skilled professionals. I must say again that real estate is a highly unorganised sector and industry status is quite required to get edifying all developers on buyers’ friendly track. Prominent developers always take care of their buyers’ interest while releasing advertisements and contain true information. Here, the mushrooming small builders are the major bottlenecks, who usually hide the truth from their buyers,” says Sharma.

…to be continued