For a country which loves discounts and bargains, the festive season is a blessing in disguise when brands—offline and online— offer unimaginable deals to customers. Future Group’s Big Bazaar has mastered the art of organising sales as it doesn’t wait for a festival but creates special days and fests throughout the year to keep footfalls coming in.
But does this impact the actual festive season? Negative, says Sandip Tarkas, president, customer strategy, Future Group. In a freewheeling interview with BrandWagon’s Meghna Sharma, Tarkas talks about changing customer trends and how festive sales will never lose their significance.
Before e-commerce firms started their Big Billion Day type sales, Future Group had The Great Indian Shopping Festival. How has the ‘sale’ concept changed over the years?
In offline, I have noticed that earlier people looked at a sale as an annual or bi-annual event, but now it has become perennial. This is something modern retail has been driving for the longest time. E-commerce has just fuelled it a little more.
What we have is incomparable to anything a customer will get anywhere else. For instance, each sale has its own format and on top of these we have cashback offers from banks. However, the problem we face is that it is a little complicated so customers don’t know how to avail of it.
But the trends I see are very enthusing. Look at East India, where the festival just finished. If we go by that, then we have already witnessed high growth (40%).
Big Bazaar has numerous festive sales throughout the year. How has the strategy helped?
Big Bazaar is a value format. We are trying to increase consumption power in India by creating more occasions for consumers. And for Big Bazaar, scheme is theme. When we positioned ourselves as ‘Isse Sasta Aur Accha Kahin Nahin’ it added to the brand rather than subtract from it. We’re giving consumers a new occasion to increase their consumption in certain categories.
An average customer basket has 18 items. If I increase that 18 to 20, imagine what it will do to our topline. So we want customers to take home more categories through numerous schemes. However, the same format of breaking down sales throughout the year may not work for another brand. For instance, Central also attracts a wide number of people, but with a certain mindset. There we usually do two end-of-season sales and one or two promotion sales driven through loyalty. A lot depends on the TG and the categories offered.
In 2014, Big Bazaar had launched a R100-crore marketing exercise. Has the perception of ‘Sabse Sasta’ changed over time?
Big Bazaar has also evolved with the customer. We launched as a discount store, but we have over time changed our positioning. From ‘Isse Sasta Aur Accha Kahin Nahin’ to ‘Making India Beautiful’; people expect lower prices from Big Bazaar but we have to give them more. Today, the focus is not on what I give, but what you get.
Brands go where there is a large set of customers and we have always had a large customer footprint. Today, many brands launch products through us. In fact, we have launched a newer version of Big Bazaar called Big Bazaar Infinity which will give customers umpteen number of options to choose from.
How does Future Group make use of Big Data? How does it help during sale time?
With a database of 27 million customers, we communicate regularly as they account for nearly 60% of the sale. People now stay loyal to a store which gives them good deals. We have a partnership with Dunnhumby, the data analytics firm. We use the data throughout the year because it is in our interest to attract customers during lean periods.