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Big Bazaar takes digital route to go local

Pawan Sarda, Group Head, Digital, Future Group, says digital can create that connect at a local level where one can speak the language of a particular region or address the targeted consumers

Pawan Sarda

Retail giant Future Group is betting big on digital in its plans to go all out to tap consumers in tier-2 and tier-3 towns. The group, which operates hypermarket chain Big Bazaar with 250+ stores in over 120 towns and cities, wants to go local and believes digital will play a big role in its endeavour.

“If Big Bazaar has to connect with Kannadigas, for example, then I think digital is a way to create that connect, where we can actually speak their language. And it is very tough to connect in the same way on ATL level. That’s one strategy we are working on,” said Pawan Sarda, Group Head, Digital, Future Group.

The group says it does not treat tier-1 consumers differently from those in smaller towns and has a uniform strategy for buyers across India. But digital works better for Big Bazaar in tier-2 than tier-1 cities.

On the behaviour of consumers in smaller towns towards digital, Sarda told, “Today, digital has created accessibility for them whether in the form of content or audio visual of a product. We believe regional content is something that is consumed a lot.”

Future Group, which began with spending just 1% of its total advertising budget on digital 2-3 years ago, is now spending 18-20% on digital. Asked if the digital spends will grow, Sarda said, “It’s all about what we create and how it is consumed by the consumers. If there is a demand from the consumers then of course we’ll increase the amount.”

The fast-growing digital spend drives 15% of offline sales as of now for Big Bazaar. On increasing spends on digital mediums, Sarda said, “As the medium becomes more relevant to us, we’ll keep investing.”

Social led by Google and Facebook works best for the brand as it helps it drive consumers from online to offline. “We are not an online player where the journey gets completed within the platform. The world of Google and Facebook works best for us,” said Sarda.

Counting on the brand’s most successful digital initiatives, Sarda said, “Our most successful initiative is fbb’s World Shorts Day, which we repeated again last Sunday. It is celebrated on digital because as a category it is meant for customers under 30 and therefore digital becomes the right platform. We also did this National Jeans Day, which was a success. Our ‘Watch Now Buy Now’ initiative was a success. There is a huge aspiration among people to wear what the models wear when they walk the ramp. We thought why to restrict it among 500 people and take it online to show it to lakhs of people and give consumers the ability to click and buy.”

Most of the digital activities are targeted at the youth. Sarda believes the youth is connected but extremely impatient, but the older audience is extremely sticky. “If you see our Facebook numbers, the engagement of older audience is more than the younger audience and they are far more active if you ask me even as they are less in number,” he said.

Future Group is also concerned about the challenges related to digital measurement but is trying to handle that issue at an internal level. “We have a large number of consumers who are engaging with our digital platform and we have our own measurement in which we look at it. We don’t look at the absolute number of people watching a video, we look at 100% video consumption and that gives us a much sharper view on any content we did on digital,” said Sarda.

Another challenge is infrastructure for creating local content. “We are a pan-India brand and creating content at that scale and infrastructure becomes very tough for us.”

Future Group works with Digital Law & Kenneth, Social Kinnect, Propaganda and others for its digital marketing initiatives.

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