BRANDING : 2013 REALTY GUNNING FOR GLAMOUR

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Celebrity PicIn India, cricket and Bollywood are religion. Name a cricket star or one from the world of cinema and you remember the advertisement  he or she endorses. Although a latecomer to this phenomenon, realty companies are increasingly lining up to add that dash of glamour

With the gloomy weather looming large in the world of Indian realty over the last couple of years and with no definite and real signs of  improvement expected in the immediate future, real estate firms are focusing on innovative marketing  strategies to pep up growth in the sector.

And in a country where the brand worthiness and recall value of cricket and films is immense, it is only natural that the prominent names are pulled in. Not just national but international celebrities are also being convinced for endorsements to create the global impact.

Film stars like Shahrukh Khan, Rishi Kapoor, Neetu Singh, Twinkle Khanna, Kangana Ranaut, Rajeev Khandelwal, Prachi Desai, Sushmita Sen; cricketers like Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh, Virender Sehwag, Suresh Raina, Praveen Kumar, to name a few, are the faces of different realty companies.

Sanjay Dutt, executive managing director, South Asia, Cushman & Wakefield (C&W), says: “In the current economic scenario, both buyers and developers are taking a cautious approach not only towards residential real estate but across all asset classes of real estate. Thus, many developers have taken to innovative marketing and pricing strategies to ensure better responses.”

According to a latest report by international property consultants C&W, there has been a drop of 12% in new residential project launches in 2013 as over 2012. The total estimated unit launches were recorded at 172,500 units across major eight cities of India with Bengaluru recording the largest number of units launched recording a rise 15%.

MAJOR AIMS
Re-branding and celebrity endorsement have been successful in drawing quick attention and getting the desired recognition amongst buyers.
Sometimes re-branding has been part of an image makeover of the organisation with new services and commitment.
Renowned celebrities create positive image of the product or services and successfully earn goodwill for the company.

sanjayIn the current economic scenario both buyers and developers are taking a cautious approach not only towards residential real estate but across all asset classes of real estate. Thus, many developers are taking to innovative marketing and pricing strategies to ensure better responses
Sanjay Dutt, Executive MD, South Asia, C&W

Ajay Singal, Director, Avalon GroupCelebrity endorsements are not new and many companies have been signing up film stars and sports stars for promoting their products. As far as real estate is concerned, buying a house is a major decision for any buyer. Customers must have trust and  conviction in the company they want to get associated with. Endorsement helps in creating a positive image and brand building for the company.
Ajay Singal, Director, Avalon Group

IMPACT
NCR region in the real estate industry in the country has big buyers and investors’ base where developers encash their re-branding and celebrity endorsement in some way or the other.
Instant messenger for new players who don’t have a strong background.
Big developers utilise the brand image of celebrities for their luxury projects as they target selected buyers.
Initially, it grabs attention all over but a smart investor or buyer enquires about previous record of the developer in terms of quality work, deadlines, payment schedule, legalities, documentation, maintenance etc.

Tarun-Shienh,-CMD,-Premia-GroupCelebrity endorsement and rebranding is a strong tool being extensively used by the real estate developers these days to create a strong brand identity. The real estate companies do so in order to catch more eyeballs and reach out to the young audience these days especially for those who work for MNCs, have double incomes and no children
Tarun Shienh, CMD, Premia Group

Ankur-Aggarwal,-Director,-JM-HousingThe print media has been preferred by most of our partners in the real estate market as it has maximum impact on the target audience. We have been very successful through their use as the retention factor played an important role for recalling our brand value. As our industry deals with the projected images, we have also taken on other promotional mediums such as television and other outdoor media. These have also proved to be an excellent medium for us.
Ankur Aggarwal, Director, JM Housing

Integrating the spirit of a brand into amenities and features is what makes a project truly branded. Many  developers believe that the role of branding shouldn’t be only limited to promotions and it must also elevate the lifestyle and status of residents.

Ankur Aggarwal, director, JM Housing, says: “The print media has been preferred by most of our partners in the real estate market as it has maximum impact on the target audience. We have been very successful through their use as the retention factor played an  important role for recalling our brand value. As our industry deals with the projected images, we have also taken on other promotional mediums such as television and other outdoor media. These have also proved to be an excellent medium for us.”

“Exclusivity with a solid twist of glamour has always attracted people. Celebrity endorsement is no doubt one  of the strongest marketing tools for the realty sector to project itself and pull desired eye balls for their projects and to create unique brand identity in the market. But at the same time, it adds on to the actual cost of the project which ultimately affects the customer’s pocket,” says Anil Mithas, chairman and managing director (CMD), Unnati Fortune Group.

“We believe more in delivering the quality to its customers than adding a glamour quotient to the brand. Quality speaks loud at all the projects of the Group”, says Mithas.

Anil-Mithas,-CMD,-Unnati-Fortune-Group...Exclusivity with a solid twist of glamour has always attracted people. Celebrity endorsement is no doubt one of the strongest marketing tools for the realty sector to project itself and pull desired eye balls for their projects and to create unique brand identity in the market. But at the same time, it adds on to the actual cost of the project which ultimately affects the customer’s pocket.
Anil Mithas, CMD, Unnati Fortune Group

gaurav-guptaWe believe that the amount given to celebrities is better spent on giving something extra to our customers at the same cost.
Gaurav Gupta, Director, SG Estates

sushant_mutterejaCurrently, we have not gone ahead with any such collaboration but we may connect with such a celebrity who is in sync with our branding strategy. Organisations and celebrities grow hand in hand and we do not see such a trend halting. We wish that stars keep on shining on the real estate skyline.
Sushant Muttreja, MD, Cosmic Group

Ashok GuptaIn today’s scenario the customers are well-informed and educated, irrespective of the brand ambassador celebrities endorse for. Developers do their research and due diligence before investing their hard earned money in banding.
Ashok Gupta, MD, Ajnara India

Honey Katiyal, CEO Investors ClinicThe growth story will only get better now with the sector getting more organised and standardised. Luxury residential apartments and homes are more and more in demand. Rapid urbanisation and rise in income level is providing the necessary thrust. Star endorsements may see an increase too, but only for so long as the trend is not overexposed. At the end of the day, exclusivity is treasured for only as long as it is exclusive.
Honey Katyal, CEO, Investors Clinic Infratech

P-Sahel,-Vice-Chairman,-Lotus-GreensFor us our celebrities and our brand ambassadors are our customers. If I need an endorsement, I would use our customers. The amount of money I will spend on a celebrity, I will spend that on improving my specifications, in giving a better product to my customers. So that’s our philosophy, we do not believe in celebrity endorsements.
P Sahel, VC, Lotus Greens

However, some advertising professionals are of the opinion that communication of real estate must move more towards a two-way channel with the brand ambassadors.

Advertising professional Suhel Seth recently said during FICCI’s ‘Brand Talk’, that marketers who resort to celebrity endorsements of their products are the laziest people in the business. “How prophetic is the statement in the context of the real estate sector, which is banking heavily on ambassadors to carry the brand forward and pay them a premium at the same time… Facts speak for themselves,”
says Seth.

When asked if the role of branding is only limited to promotions, Ashok Gupta, managing director, Ajnara India, says: “We agree to this that the role of branding be limited to promotions. In today’s scenario, the customers are well informed and educated, irrespective of the brand ambassador, they do their research and due diligence before investing their hard earned money.”

“We believe that amount given to celebrities is better spent on giving something extra to our customers at the same cost,” adds Gaurav Gupta, director, SG Estates.

However, Sushant Muttreja, managing director, Cosmic Group, puts this endorsement business  differently. “Currently, we have not gone ahead with any such collaboration but we may connect with such a celebrity who is in sync with our branding strategy. Organisations and celebrities grow hand in hand and we do not see such a trend halting. We wish that stars keep on shining on the real
estate skyline,” says Muttreja, adding that endorsing an external celebrity may definitely attract a specific segment of the society, but at the same time there is a revenue impact attached to it.

The year, 2013 has witnessed a trend of star endorsements, will the trend continue in 2014?

Honey Katyal, CEO, Investors Clinic Infratech, says: “Indeed. The growth story will only get better now with the sector getting more organised and standardised. Luxury residential apartments and homes are more and more in demand. Rapid urbanisation and rise in income level is providing the necessary thrust. Star endorsements may see an increase too, but only for so long as the trend is not
over-exposed. At the end of the day, exclusivity is treasured for only as long as it is exclusive.”

vidyaIt totally depends on the number of new brands or products entering the market and also how the previous endorsements have benefitted the brands.
Vidya Basarkod, President (Sales & Marketing), Jaypee Greens

Manu GargFor us, our customer is our celebrity. As a policy, we believe in building brand name and goodwill through word of mouth. LandCraft strongly believes that real estate is a regional phenomenon and there is no better brand than our customers and their positive opinion about us.
Manu Garg, Drector, LandCraft Developers

The competition in branding activities is also expected to boom up with the booming market conditions in the real estate sector which is expected in the near future. Vidya Basarkod, president (sales & marketing),  Jaypee Greens, says: “It totally depends on the number of new brands or products entering the market and also on how the previous endorsements have benefitted the brands.”

 Some developers also disagree with this kind of promotions to grow their business. LandCraft Developers is one of them which have not endorsed any celebrity for their brand.

Says Manu Garg, director, LandCraft Developers: “For us, our customer is our celebrity. As a policy, we believe in building the brand name and goodwill through word of mouth. Landcraft strongly believes  that real estate is a regional phenomenon and there is no better brand than our customers and their positive opinion about us.”

“For us our celebrities and our brand ambassadors are our customers. If I need an endorsement, I would use our customers. The amount of money I will spend on a celebrity, I will spend that on improving  my specifications, in giving a better product to my customers. So that our philosophy, we do not believe in celebrity endorsements,” says P Sahel, vicechairman, Lotus Greens.

“We rather spent that money in CSR initiatives or might associate ourselves with NGOs rather than putting a big advertisement with some big name,” adds Sahel

STARRY ENDORSEMENTS
Rudra                                                                                                                       Gautam Gambhir
Ace Developers                                                                                                 Deepika Padukone
Lodha group                                                                                                                Aishwarya Rai
Gaursons                                                                                                        Rishi & Neetu Kapoor
Krrish Group                                                                                                                Bipasha Basu
Oasis                                                                                                                    Narain Karthikeyan
Homestead                                                                    Michael Schumacher & Maria Sharapova
Shree Group                                                                                                                 Steve Waugh
Investors Clinic                                                                                                                Yuvraj Singh
Vibgyor Group                                                                                                   Rituparna Sengupta
Agrani Homes                                                                                                                  Chris Gayle
Groupco Developers                                                                                                    Shilpa Shetty
Amit Enterprises                                                                               Sachin Tendulkar Housing Ltd
Amaatra Group                                                                                                                      Govinda
GTM Builders                                                                                                           Harbhajan Singh
Shubhkamna                                                                                                         Jeev Milkha Singh