Demonetization defined the viral world of 2016, both online and offline. A bold and controversial move by Modi’s government, to scrap old Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 notes, had its after effects across all industries. But one industry where cash plays an important role had been hit hard: the real estate – long considered a black money safe haven. Per a news story published last year in the month of December, “With the government scrapping 86 percent of available currency notes, registration of flats, plots and shops in Delhi has gone down by almost 30 percent while in Gurgaon, the dip is nearly 25 percent.”
Another story published earlier this year informed that several developers across the country — from Chennai to Kolkata, Hyderabad to Pune and Mumbai to Bengaluru and entire national capital region — admitted that the market took a big hit post demonetization.
The registration of properties also saw a decline. In the process, developers are estimated to have incurred a revenue loss of Rs. 22,600 crore due to the cash ban while state governments suffered a notional loss of stamp duty of Rs. 1,200 crore, as per property consultant Knight Frank India.
With the market taking a hit, rumors are flying ripe once again about the real estate market crashing soon, with falling prices. In such an unfavorable environment, buyers have decided to sit on the fence and watch, thereby making the real estate players jittery.
So, how do you boost the morale of a buyer who is stressed with the hassles of demonetization and also praying for the real estate market to crash. Providing discounts or other fancy amenities can’t just be a solution. Rohan Builders of Pune realized that it is the right time to bring back “Price Protection Policy”, which the company had introduced in 2008. The policy ensures that if the market price of the property bought falls, the company refunds the difference to the buyer.
Before you roll your eyes upon reading that a builder will return money, let me assure you this isn’t a marketing gimmick. The policy has been there on papers since 2008 but the biggest concern for Rohan Builders was to educate and inform a buyer in a language that she understands.
To push the idea of Price-Protection, LinTeractive the digital agency of MullenLowe Lintas Group was brought on board. The team led by Sumanta Ganguly – Executive Vice President, LinTeractive came up with a 360-degree campaign – Price-Protected Sabziwala (vegetable vendor).
While brainstorming for ideas on educating the buyer about Price Protection Policy, the team realized that fluctuation of vegetables is a factor that stands at the top of a consumer’s mind. This small insight became the base of the campaign, which then saw the launch of a shop that gave price-protection on vegetables, even on small fluctuations in the market, both online and offline.
To begin with the idea was to create buzz around the initiative. The agency roped in popular comedy group STFU18, who then kicked-off with a series of prank videos set in Pune called ‘Aaj Ka Bhav’ (the rates today).
Here is one such video where we see STFU18’s Rajan trying to convince a sabziwala that he should return him money if tomorrow prices of vegetables drop. As expected, no one was going to agree!
8 such funny videos were created with Rajan and his only job was to find answers to his questions, however unrealistic it may be in today’s time. Along with this Out of Home and social media were also implemented to communicate Rohan’s price protection policy both offline and online.
Post this an online vegetable store, #PriceProtectedSabziwala was launched, where people were asked to buy vegetables with a price protection guarantee. The site also built a stock exchange like a price ticker for the vegetable market. Buyers were informed via SMS, every time prices fell and the refund was returned via integration of PayTM wallet. At this point the brand seamlessly plugged its Price Protection Policy, intriguing the buyer for a conversation and finding more. Right now the campaign is over so you might not be able to buy the vegetables anymore.
Over the weekend, physical vegetable stores were launched in popular malls in Pune. I visited one such store that was launched in Seasons Mall, Magarpatta, Pune. I didn’t go with a shopping bag nor was I looking to purchase a flat but was interested to see how the agency was carrying out the exercise on-ground. Besides I also wanted to see how people walking into the malls are reacting to such a vegetable shop that guarantees return of money on vegetables and properties, if prices fall.
The excitement was definitely there as you are getting promised returns for a product that is required by all sections of society. And who doesn’t love bargaining for veggies. While people were buying vegetables, representatives were taking a minute and delivering colorful quick leaflets that illustrated how Rohan Builders is assuring security of a buyer’s money.
— Rohan Builders (@RohanBuilders) March 31, 2017
People were surprised but after being assured that this is no marketing gimmick but a proper legalized process then there were a few nods. Some people left with veggies, some were interested to talk more on how it is possible.
The on ground exercise also got a boost with RED FM93.5 carrying out an entire day show from the same location. RJ Sangram also hosted a Facebook Live from the mall and RJ Shrikant made some vegetable buyers happy with much required selfies.
— Rohan Builders (@RohanBuilders) March 29, 2017
A creative approach to educating buyers
We all dream about owning a home but skyrocketing prices have always been a challenge. One of the so called good effects of demonetization was the belief that the real estate market will crash and buying houses would be more easy. While the crash is yet to happen, the rumor has hit the builders. Registrations have dropped and buyers are ready to play the watch game.
In such a scenario the incentive that Rohan Builders has come up is not only interesting but a believable one. The policy was already in place and used by many others, but making an effort to educate the buyers and taking them in confidence that even builders can return your hard earned money is something unique.
The systematic approach by the agency in making it an all round activity, rather than being just digital is a healthy approach. From prank videos to building an online store to finally connecting with offline and radio, its a well thought through approach without ever losing the business objective of the campaign. While the brand hasn’t shared any numbers as of yet, LI would be really interested in knowing how many people inquired and asked about the Price Protection Policy post this campaign. How many actually decided to buy a property during this time after showing faith on what Rohan Builders are trying to sell via this campaign.
The inside news is that the pilot exercise carried out by Rohan Builders for few of their properties in Pune could get a boost and even be applied to their other properties, if there are quality inquiries or leads. We hope so buyers get such security for their hard earned money.