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A TV-first brand, Cars24 shifts focus to digital amid pandemic, ups online spends by 20%

Having grown by 10% m.o.m in October, the brand expects to grow by another 25% by end of 2020, Nida Naushad, Head, Brand, Strategy and Campaign at Cars24, tells BestMediaInfo.com

Nida Naushad

Since its inception in 2015, used car buying and selling platform Cars24 has always been a TV-first brand. Betting majorly on the medium for awareness, its offline mediums have had the majority of the brand’s ad spends until now.

But it was amid the pandemic, the brand has realised the importance of digital, pushing it to spend more on the medium.

Nida Naushad, Head, Brand, Strategy and Campaign at Cars24, told BestMediaInfo.com how the brand has increased its spends in digital by 20%, while allocating the overall marketing budgets on a 50:50 basis to both offline and digital channels.

Around June, the used car platform had reduced its budget, being apprehensive of how much will it lead to actual business.

But having realised how a lot of people have moved to digital amid the pandemic and the increased consumption on the medium, the brand released its first-ever digital-first ad along with M S Dhoni, ‘DuniyaBoliLagayegi’.

“For the last five years, we always have been TV-first. We always have created TV ads first, and then we moved to do some digital and social media around it,” she said.

The ad:

Naushad said, “People today are having more conversations with the brands as compared to before Covid-19 on digital channels and this is the opportunity we realised. Earlier our budget was 70:30 (offline and digital), but now we have made it 50:50 (offline and digital). In offline, it only is TV and radio.”

She said after this ad the brand realised it had to start spending more on digital with the kind of engagement it witnessed online. The online mediums helped the brand to increase engagement by 50% for the ad.

 “The kind of audience we get there (digital) is well-defined. There is more opportunity to interact with them as compared to radio or TV. And we will continue with this allocation of budget for now. The future is digital,” she said.

While print has never been of any prominence for the brand, it does experiment with OOH occasionally for targeted campaigns.

Naushad hinted at increasing its marketing budget significantly in the next year.

“We recently launched a bike vertical on our platform amid the pandemic. With new offerings and functionalities, there will be many different upcoming campaigns and the budget will increase accordingly,” she said.  

The Covid-19 pandemic created a greater demand for used/second-hand cars for obvious reasons—reduced budgets and the phobia of travelling by public transport.

Riding on these two factors, by June, Cars24 recovered its business by 60% and subsequently July and August responded really well, which helped the brand grow really fast and more than it had expected.

Naushad said this growth will continue for another two years.

“In October, we had the highest number of transactions from both buyers and senders, which is promising. In this month, we had a 10% increase in the number of sellers as compared to September. We expect another 20-25% increase by December. Both seller-buyer intent on our platform increased by 3x compared to pre-lockdown. People now want their own car rather than traveling by public transport. Back in June we didn’t know how big this deal was but based on the numbers we are getting now it is unexpected,” she said.

She said the brand had seen 100% recovery in August itself.

Talking about how the landscape of advertising in India is changing amid the pandemic, she advised brands to be really relevant and empathetic with the ongoing economic crisis.

“I think the only brand you will remember are the ones who will show empathy towards the customers in such challenging times. If you are one of those brands that are barging audiences with just new products and functionality, nobody cares. Any brand that actually felt empathetic towards the customers and didn’t think of them as another lead and rather looked at them as human beings are the ones that will stand out,” she said.

She feels more and more ads nowadays have the empathetic factor while creating a conversation with customers.

Given that there are perils with every medium, in case any brand is being trolled, she suggested, “As a brand, you either plan to live with the perils or you need to learn to apologise when you are wrong.”

Having been associated with IPL for the last two years, the brand chose not to associate this year. Asked why, Naushad said, “We spent the same budget on different channels this year. This year we thought of focusing more on our campaigns and stories. Also, if your content is good, people will notice you anyway.”


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