Tag Archives: Harmit Chawla

Wrong brand positioning is faulty project planning-II

Posted on by Track2Realty

By: Harmit Chawla, Managing Director, HCorp Realty

Harmit Chawla, HCorp Realty, 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: I won’t blame the marketing or the branding team in such a set-up where the defined role of corporate communication is very clear—advertising specialist is one who can negotiate the best rate with the media or the ad agencies, PR guy is one who can get them in column-centimetre of print and soundbytes of television studio and others are good for their dealing with the vendors to deliver brochure and other marketing kit on time. Any extra grey cell and one is a misfit in the company and liability for the management.

This creates a cycle of self glory with some of the developers with a pseudo faith in their own companies’ brand. No wonder, they start feeling that only they have heard the borrowed names from other markets in terms of having a luxury lineage.

So what even if there are no hills or mountains or many trees in the vicinity; nothing stops the developers from naming there project ending with hills. More often than not project name has nothing to do with the DNA of the project itself, nor does it tell you anything about the project. It does not even address an abstract concept.

The fact of the matter is that today in most of the cases brand positioning has nothing to do with the product, but supersedes all logic is the aspiration of the top management sitting in their ivory towers. Since everyone wants to get into luxury overdrive, there is obviously saturation in that market as all projects in this segment look and sound alike.

It is not just in the luxury segment that the term luxury has been over used and abused. Even in the affordable category, there is overuse of the clichĂ©d jargon like affordable luxury. So-called brand strategists fail to realise that getting the basic amenities is the priority in the affordable segment and the brand should focus on that. As far as luxury is concerned, more than the developers’ chest beating, getting a house of one’s own itself is luxury in this segment of buyers.

All this clearly points out that brand positioning has nothing to do with project planning. It is a either a pre-conceived deliberate intent or a desire to fit the product into that mould. Pick up any newspaper and advertisement from Noida to Banglore
only address gets changed and it is devoid of any logic on brand and product positioning.

How many of the house buyers are actually looking for—

  • Designer Landscaping
  • Club House
  • Swimming Pool
  • Jogging Track
  • Children’s Play Area
  • Gymnasium
  • Amphitheatre
  • Tennis Court
  • Table Tennis
  • Steam, Sauna
  • Jacuzzi
  • Aerobics Room
  • CrĂšche
  • Half Basket Ball Court Cards Room
  • Billiards
  • Multipurpose Hall
  • Reading Area

This is generally what is sold under the name of luxury. So, how do I differentiate as a buyer? This has become mundane in the world of luxury.

I feel companies need to go back to the drawing board and decide the DNA of the project and the company also for their own long-term existence. Is the project going to be luxury, affordable, premium, mass housing, what is the play area, and post that only they should develop an organisation structure and system revolving around that strategy. Hence, you bring all your stakeholder around that philosophy.

Develop a product that you want to do and then develop a strategy around it. Look at your bandwidth on it and develop that, be it financial or human resource. More importantly, develop a project for the market not for your glorification (a successful project will any way glorify the company). Every aspect of the project to the most micro level should convey the essence of the project.

Brand positioning of product and a company can not be devoid of each other and none can also have predominance over the other as both are symbiotic to each other. Luxury has been reduced to a mass product and that sounds like imagining a Hermes Berkin in the hands of everyone on the road.

Wrong brand positioning is faulty project planning-I

Posted on by Track2Realty

By: Harmit Chawla, Managing Director, HCorp Realty

Harmit Chawla, HCorp Realty, 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 today’s real estate market where projects are more often than not adding only to the inventory, marketing department of respective companies are wondering as to what went wrong in the brand positioning of the project.

Of course, if the buyers are not coming forward in a market where the housing shortage is huge and ever increasing, there must be something fundamentally wrong in the positioning of the project in the given market.

Real estate insiders know how the blame game begins with every department trying its best to shrug off the responsibility and put the blame on the marketing department in general and sales team in particular. But in most cases it is as much a fault of the project planning as its positioning.

It is a complete mismatch of vision among the various departments of the company and lack of vision as far as the project positioning in the given geographical market is concerned.

In an honest admission we as the real estate professionals will have to accept the fact that in the market today there are very few projects which have occupied the mind and space of the market from the point of brand positioning that it was intended to. This calls for a quick reality check of some of the success case studies as well as the general practice that is self-destructive.

One has to understand as to what generally transpires in companies that leads to great products with great target segmentation and the perfect brand positioning.

Let us see how does the system work behind a success story and what leads to brand disaster. A company looks at a parcel of land on which it sees a future and decides to set up a real estate product. They go into a cash flow overdrive on the prospective project to come to a conclusion of the profitability and viability. In today’s market with exorbitant land rates, the in thing without using too much grey matter is to do a luxury project.

Concluding outcome of such deliberations is generally unilateral decision at the top management to do a luxury project. I must add here that real estate board rooms are generally meant for monologue and not dialogue.

Well, once the monologue process of discussion takes the ‘consensus decision’ to do a super luxury project, the hard work is over for the management. Now starts the easy part for most companies to work out the dynamics of the project where they have actually gone into self belief mode of being a marketer of luxury project.

Now the company decides on couple of adjective which could be attached to their luxury makeover. What could these be—to begin with how does the tallest sound, sure makes you look like a khalifa of buildings in India. The other options could be biggest luxury township, golf course absolutely is the epitome of luxury what if it has been the most unsuccessful segment globally (as someone told me why the hell should I pay millions for a bagicha where I hit and keep chasing a ball).

When all these fancy attractions become a sort of overkill, then we chase the world renowned architects and landscape architects and use their brand equity to leverage luxury in a project.

In recent time some company owners have also tried to brand more to themselves as real estate gurus, which is a teaser campaign prior to telling the market that they are going to launch the first luxury corporate city in a market which historically does not have great record on commercial properties.

And when all analysts are of the opinion that commercial real estate is not finding favour as a real estate asset class, some companies have shown great strategic vision and marketing abilities by naming there project after famous cities and existing luxury projects in global cities and have marketed it with such fervour as if they wanted to prove that they are product of the same DNA.


to be continued

Realty needs to create eco system of sustainable advocacy

Posted on by Track2Realty

By: Harmit Chawla, Managing Director, HCorp Realty

Harmit Chawla, HCorp Realty, 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: These are the logical road to reforms and cutting time on approvals. Such a move will go well with the government and thus reinforce the confidence of the buyers also.

I think industry should welcome any move which facilitates ensuring greater transparency and regulation of the sector. Credibility and adherence to delivery promises could play a significant role in improving investor confidence which would increase investment in the sector leading to positive growth.

Unfortunate reality, however, is that we want the government to change policy & perception for the sector while allowing the sector to remain unchanged and unprofessional.

I am not sure what happened with the clarion call of “Mission Transparency” in the sector. And how many of our developer friends have actually signed the “Code of Conduct” even though that is within mere self regulatory framework without any legislative teeth.

What is the need of the hour is that instead of asking the government for transparency in the approval processes, we should ourselves be transparent in the way we operate.

Let us create an eco system conducive for smart cities ourselves and trust me; it will go down so well with the collective consciousness of the buyers that eventually they will become our voice. That kind of track-II diplomacy and policy advocacy is needed in the realty sector to bring the government on board with the sector. Till that kind of paradigm shift takes place, it is not easy to force all government bodies to form a consensus for the benefit of the sector, forget about getting any industry status.

The big question today is whether we do have kind of atmosphere of political consensus in India where all concerned bodies make a concerted effort. Are the Chief Ministers and Urban Development Ministers willing to let go full and absolute control of powerful and cash rich portfolio and empower every stake holder to decide on real estate in the area? I wish it would happen like that. But then I don’t carry any such fantasy of single-window-clearance in near future.

I feel the sector has to be realistic with its causes and concerns and then only any policy advocacy will work in the overall regulatory mechanism. Till then, I am afraid, the sector’s self-appointed spokespersons will keep sulking and, unfortunately, home buyers will have more reasons to sulk after paying their hard earned money in quest of a sweet home.

Approach and mindset change needed for policy advocacy

Posted on by Track2Realty

By: Harmit Chawla, Managing Director, HCorp Realty

Harmit Chawla, HCorp Realty, 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: The social responsibility part of the Indian developers has been lacking, to say the least. The manner in which the developers have operated in many emerging micro markets leaves much to be desired of their sensitivities to these issues considering the unprofessional and opaque approach to the functioning of the developers where local level leaders are made a party by greasing their palms.

With so much of complexity involved at social federal level and economic level, any single solution like single-window-clearance sounds a far cry and would be seen by many as arbitrary. It is not that delay in approvals is not one of the main reasons of project’s life cycle & cost appreciation. It, of course, does and the buyers are the worst affected lot.

So, any solution needs a lot of coordination with a single focus and desire to come together and then forming a body at the centre to look after the proposals with the representatives of concerned state along with both local district and panchayat level representatives including central representatives. This will ensure that collective and timely decisions are taken.

Problem is that when as an industry body your wish list starts with what is not feasible, then you end up not getting even what could have been achieved over a couple of meetings.

We have seen it in recent past how the Union Urban Development Minister has been pushed to the verbal corner when as a guest he attended industry body function, and the minister in retaliation ridiculed the sector for its overt greed. My point is whether this is the right approach for sector’s policy advocacy. Definitely not, at least I don’t agree.

Let us not draw an ideal picture of what policy advocacy certain other industries have so very successfully adopted. They are industry in the first place, and then they have been through trial and error process over a period of time. In realty, it is “trial of error” process at the moment and not “trial & error” to make amends and move forward.

What the sector should look for reforms is a step by step process instead of an elevation through media trial against the government. The demand should rather be to introduce clear and binding bylaws. This itself would be a major step to ensure swift clearances.

I am quite confident that such measures would prevent default on the delivery front by developers as delays often make projects unviable. Secondly, the sector should crave for automatic change of land use for converting agriculture land for residential & commercial if the said area was within a city’s pre-defined master plan.

Perils plague serious real estate entrepreneurs

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Harmit Chawla, HCorp Realty, 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: Today there is no entry barrier in the sector for any fly-by-night operator with black money to back his initial pomp and show to lure customers. But for a serious start-up there are many perils that plague. Problem is all the voices are being raised to ease only a section of the developers with often myopic vision with regard to the future of the sector.

There is hardly any consensus within the sector over the macro issues, forget market-specific micro issues, and because of the lack of clarity it is going through a mercurial phase, be it on the financial part, construction, inadequacies on land policy or labour.

Without proper regularization of norms, black money is the driving force of this business. Why are stakeholders in the sector silent over larger issues like RBI norms with regard to both institutional and retail funding being so tight? Similarly, land policy with regard to development, acquisition, measurement or record management is different across the country.

The absence of policy clarity is only benefitting the vested interests who with their ulterior motive will always find enough people to stage protest about anything and everything under the sun. In such a scenario even if you had a single-window-clearance policy, it would get confined as nothing more than a definition in Wikipedia

Then from a legislative standpoint, land is a state subject where even if you have any bill or policy at the centre, constitutionally land remains as absolute state subject.  Land usage and policy is very local to the area hence having a national policy does not make sense.

Moreover, to even start working towards a common policy requires a great deal of effort in terms of cooperation between centre and state which in these times is seemingly impossible given the recent history on FDI in retail, insurance, aviation etc. With growing powers of regional parties and their say in the centre coming to a national consensus is next to impossible.

At a local level politicians have played with the psyche of people and it so often appears to be history repeating itself. A prime example is Noida Extension where the developers have been seen as exploiters. Similarly, across the country in many areas Indian companies and MNC are seen as similar evils.

The fact of the matter is that whenever government has give land to enterprise to develop industries, growth has happened, no doubt, but it has not benefitted the local dwellers as it has resulted in an influx of migration of people to work in the area. It is seen in the Indian context by the native people as dilution of their socio-cultural ethos and hence has led to public protest, naxalism and tribal revolts.

Realty must be realistic with its causes and concerns

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Harmit Chawla, HCorp Realty, 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: Call it being overt critical on the realty business or my sense of introspection, I maintain that the biggest drawbacks in the sector is we are not sure what precisely we want from the government, nor is there any clarity as to how this will help the sector; whether our demands are feasible from ethical, financial or legislative point of view. For instance, when the sector cries hoarse for all federal and state regulations to ease for the real estate, it sounds as if demand is for robbing Peter (tax payers’ money) to pay Paul (realty) as a panacea to the revival of the economy.

Similarly, single-window-clearance is an oft-repeated demand for quite some time now without realising whether it can be implemented in a system like ours where centre-state relations come in the way of such a process driven timely clearance. Do we want the single-window-clearance to go the national counter terrorism centre (NCTC) way where centre proposes and state disposes? Won’t such a move, if taken at all, block the more rational regulatory and clearance mechanism for the future?

In the last few years I have came across the repeated rhetoric that single-window-clearance is what is going to redefine the destiny of the sector, and hence Indian economy. A parrot like one liner coming off and on from self appointed real estate bodies where different spokespersons speak in different languages on many issues, only trivialises the very credibility of industry bodies.

I can understand easing the processes from investment point of view where offshore money into the Indian market, as and when they are inclined to invest, is not deterred due to roadblocks in the name of regulatory checks and balances. But to expect all clearances for realty projects from a single counter is aiming too high, and hence directionless in my opinion.

I am not an expert on the Indian constitution, not do I have expertise over centre-state relations, but purely from a neutral perspective I do feel single-window-clearance sorting out all the problems of the sector is like saying that a single Janlokpal Bill will eradicate all the corruption from this country.

My simple take is that will single-window-clearance sort out the funding gap of the real estate? Isn’t it a fact that fund paucity is the primary reason for delaying the projects? Will a wishful legislation curb the flow of black money in to the sector? There are more questions than answers and the sector needs to be realistic in its expectations to be seen as a serious stake holder in policy framing and heard seriously.

Harmit Chawla quits Paras Buidtech to form H Corp Realty

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Harmit Chawla, Paras Buildtech, india real estate news, india realty news, indian real estate news, indian property news, track2media, track2realty, ravi sinhaHarmit Chawla, Vice President – Sales and Marketing at Paras Buildtech has called it quits and floated a new real estate company christened as ‘H Corp Realty Pvt Ltd’. His venture, according to young Chawla, will invest about US$ 100 million over the next one year in developing quality residential real estate space in the NCR market.

At 35, Harmit has had 14 years of successful stints with many realty firms. His far-sightedness and quest for quality took Paras Buildtech to the next level of growth as he headed the projects – including Paras Tierra & Paras Seasons – which had a total foot print of 5.3 million sq ft of residential development in Noida. Harmit managed to sell around 4,000 units in record time, garnering Rs 1,500 crore for the company. Pertinently, Realty Plus had honoured him presenting the Best Marketer of the Year Award, while Paras Tierea was selected as the Best Affordable Housing Project of the Year at the Realty Plus Excellence Awards 2010.

Born and brought up in Delhi, Harmit did his schooling from Mount St Mary’s and graduated from Delhi University followed by MBA in Marketing & International business from Symbiosis Institute.