Monday, August 29, 2016

Quikr builds its brand smarter

How the brand tasted success with witty and controversial ads
At a time when venture capitalists are looking at start-ups with the same trepidation that Australian batsmen look at sub-continental wickets, one particular brand has broken the trend of pessimism and scepticism, and that is Quikr — a brand I have been following closely for some time now. 

Its history
Quikr was launched in July 2008 as an Indian online classified advertising platform, where users can buy or sell goods and services, from one another.
Let’s take a quick look at the launch commercials released in July 2011. In the ads, people wanted to sell their bikes or mobiles at the click of a finger using the mnemonic “Quikrrrrrrr.”

While the commercials were quite striking, I had my reservations. “Was the brand getting into too tight a boundary with a brand-name like Quikr? Was the consumer interested in speed of sale or a better price?” asked the older, more rational consumer in me. But I soon came to a realisation — that I was not the target audience. 

The impatient Indian
The target audience was the impatient Indian, the two-minute noodle generation who, if given a choice, would have been born in six months! They want everything the day before yesterday and find T20s too long. They are great fans of the digital medium, which is in keeping with their impatient state of mind.
The brand continued to “celebrate impatience”, which was an essential trait of youth, with such catch-lines as “the quick India movement” or “slow things I hate”. The brand smartly used less expensive, yet visible, media, whether it was the slow moving queue in the supermarket or a vehicle stuck in traffic.
Bob returns with the missed call
Quikr realised (when they launched) that a large number of consumers were not online just then. While they would access the internet in the near future, they had to be addressed now.
And so, it became the first brand with whom consumers could interact via a “missed call”. They cashed in on the character Bob Biswas, essayed by Saswata Chatterjee in the film Kahaani — and the humour worked. Here is a quick recap of this popular commercial, released in November 2012. 

The missed call created a new set of consumers, as non-internet users too got into the act. This had its own impact on social media.
From mundane to ridiculous
Here was a guy who wanted to sell his cow and, as though this was not enough, someone wanted to sell cow dung! Imagine the potential of something like this on social media. That’s exactly what Quikr did. Here are the visuals, in case you missed them. 

If you carefully analyse whatever Quikr has been doing, you will realise that it has fundamentally changed the rules of the game by consistently coming up with great ads.
The excitement continued with IPL, one of India’s biggest sports events . People even watch the auctions with great fascination and get vicarious pleasure when cricketers make pots of money, even as they comment on the good horoscopes of some of these cricketers, who earn in crores and often score runs in single digits!
But one season, a few cricketers didn’t get picked; this made news — that included a Pakistani player as well. The commercials Quikr came up with got a lot of visibility and some flak, particularly from Pakistani audiences. Here’s what they created.

But then, Quikr didn’t really care about the backlash, since as a brand, it was talking to the youngsters who, thankfully, have a greater sense of humour than the people of my generation!
Most importantly, the brand kept making news and, if one may add, waves. As luck would have it, there was a match fixing scandal as well, and Quikr responded with a campaign in three days! The underlying concept of the ad was “Why sell yourself for money? If you want, sell something old from your house on” 

Obviously, match fixing was news and bad news at that, which left a nation fretting and fuming and venting. Quikr was there to take advantage of the conversations, adding to interest in the topic and riding the wave. The ability to realise which communication makes waves is something Quikr has been extremely savvy about.
The brand has also actively sought opportunities from the environment and here is an example. When Sachin Tendulkar retired, what would happen to his biggest fan?
Quikr got into the act and, even if the ad created a controversy, that was not new to Quikr. It was there in the midst of it all, secure in the knowledge that its consumer is young, impatient, and with a sense of humour. He/she would understand that this was the essence of the brand and wouldn’t care if it was controversial. The consumer was using the brand and would recommend it to her/his friends actively, which explains the brand’s success.
I wish I had the ability to document the brand’s success in one column, but so what if we can’t? Hang in there till next week…

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