Perks@Croma: An Experiment In Buzz Marketing
The need to compete for attention with the online marketplaces with their seemingly unlimited advertising budgets, has pushed Croma to sharpen its skills in those areas of marketing that do not require big media spends. Therefore, we keep trying new things, launching fresh initiatives, scaling up what works and shutting down what doesn’t.
One of the successes has been in the area of buzz marketing, that is, making the message so strong that it acquires legs of its own and spreads from one prospective customer to the next. Perks@Croma is one such program. In just its 4th month, it has already managed to catch the eye of 1.5L corporate employees across 75+ organizations and delivered business of approximately Rs 1crore with not a rupee of marketing support!
The corporate perks program at Croma offers special prices and not-in-market deals to employees of corporates. It is available through the site perks.croma.com to employees whose HR has signed up the organization for the program. We sign up the HR teams, communicate deals and offers monthly which they then disseminate across the organization. The key success factors are (a) The deals must be worthy of being shared and (b) The HR of companies must feel motivated to share the good news with their colleagues.
Croma has always been the preferred destination for the salaried classes – thanks to what we sell, how we sell, how this customer segment prefers to pay – or perhaps simply because we are a trusted Tata company. Unfortunately for us, this is also the segment that is most digitally savvy and most active on e-com sites – our main competition. While Croma has caught up in the ability to serve its customers digitally over the past couple of years and also addressed the pricing gaps versus competition, delivering this message of change has been a struggle.
The changing media habits of the salaried classes makes it tougher too. Growing time-stress has led to a shrinking of the effective foot-print of traditional push media such as TV and Print. Today, we consume video, audio and text content at a time of our choosing and with a finger forever hovering on the “forward” button. Research also reveals that the credibility of advertising is dropping while that of word-of-mouth and peer endorsements is driving behaviour.
The key to unlocking this segment’s business therefore lay in being talked about in this segment.
Cracking an insight for this customer segment was easy – not least because we are the segment! Every salaried person shares the angst that his/her lifestyle comes at a higher price than for people engaged in non-salaried professions. Every rupee we earn is taxed as is every rupee we spend on consumption. I have often felt envious of my business-men friends – when I bought my first desktop, it was an expense for me; when my architect friend bought one, it was a legitimate business investment and actually a deductible in his tax-filing! Therefore, a message of special deals / offers only for the salaried is bound to click.
The Eureka Moment
Question was how would Croma fund these special offers? As a full service retailer giving additional discounts is not what we specialize in. The penny drop moment came in a meeting with the Samsung B2B team when they evinced interest in developing a special program for Tata employees. We realized that the biggest brands of electronics value the business of this segment as good customers, prospects for future up-sell and as potential influencers. The same is true of the credit eco-system as well. Bringing the two together into a whole that is larger than the sum of the parts, perks.croma.com was born.
Today, perks.croma.com brings together the latest offerings of some of the biggest brands of mobile phones, televisions, appliances, laptops, etc.
How it works?
Croma approaches the HR team at various corporates and offers access to the special deals. Smart HR managers (who are themselves our prospective customers) sign up their organization and start receiving communication of the deals on a monthly basis. An individual employee has to simply log in with his official email ID to avail of the special offer. Every employee who has availed of a special deal, spreads the word among his peer set – our data shows, once we have got one transaction in an office, the business from that office just takes off – buzz marketing at its most effective.
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