A gingelly oil gingerly asking users to buy from their brand store

Even till early this year, it may have been unimaginable that a brand like Kaleesuwari, owner of brands like Gold Winner oil, may ask readers to go directly to their own page and order their products! But today’s ad campaign by them, for World Heart Day, across multiple newspapers like The Times of India, Hindu and Tamil newspapers like Dinamalar have a clear call-to-action.

They are introducing a new product under their Cardia brand – Cardia Advanced Gingelly Oil (they already have two other product variants in this category, but they are blended edible vegetable oils).

This is their entry into the gingelly oil category, dominated by brands like Idhayam.

And they are asking you to ‘pre-book’ the product on their own website, and are not asking you to head to your nearest grocery store and ask for it!

The thought behind the pre-book call-to-action seems smart – there’s something free and that incentive may help sweeten the deal.

When you head to the website, you’d be welcomed with the deal again, as a banner. And then the whole point of the ad that leads you with just one product and incentive: “We’re proud to launch our all new digital shopping avenue”.

This is indicative of how brands are forced to look at their own channels (direct-to-consumer) online and promote them, beyond just depending on retail channels either offline or online. Kaleesuwari could have tied up with an Amazon or a Flipkart and rolled out this pre-book offer, but yet, they chose to use this opportunity (world heart day + a new product launch) to benefit their own e-commerce channel.

If there was no COVID-19, the call-to-action would have been very different: “Rush to your nearest store and get your free stainless steel bowl worth Rs.50”.

Just to try it out, I did go to the website. It seemed doggedly slow (I tried in both ACT broadband and Airtel 4G) and the movement between pages, including accessing the cart, seemed really slow, compared to most e-commerce enabled websites. I don’t think they have given this enough thought and are probably in their learning stage.

The ad does mention, in fine print, that there is a flat Rs. 40 as shipping charges (anywhere in India). That takes the cart value (of just one product, the one being advertised) to Rs. 290, and the value of the freebie to Rs. 10, figuratively in the minds of users 🙂 The same could have been an actually free addition (again, notionally) if users are waling to a store nearby and buying the same product.

I quite like the fact that they considered driving people to their new e-commerce store online using an incentive. It addresses the all-important, “Why should I even bother to visit your online store?”. But once people do get to the online store, the experience leaves a lot to be desired only because the same users have seen far superior user experience when it comes to e-commerce. People will compare that UX to this one and also look at other factors like shipping charges… which are perfectly valid, of course, but people are bound to wonder if they can order the same in one of their many orders on say, Amazon or Big Basket, pay no shipping charges and still get the freebie (however small it may seem).

It’s clear, and admirable, that Kaleesuwari planned the freebie as an exclusive to their own brand store. I just wish they had thought-through the experience as much as the marketing hook. That follow-through is as important, if not more important, as marketing.

For comparison, take a look at some of the other online brand stores that have been in existence even before the pandemic.

Himalaya’s online store, from what I hear, has been doing very well, thanks to thoughtful offers and product catalogs. Given the sheer range and number of products Himalaya has, it made sense for the brand to even have its own branded stores offline. So the online brand store is an extension of the same thought. So, combined with the range, and offers, the online brand store does have a solid chance of becoming a full-fledged channel for the company.

And Cinthol’s online store is something I have been buying frequently from, mainly because some of the variants (like the Zest variant of the deo-stick) are simply not available anywhere else!

Cinthol even launched the charcoal variant exclusively on their own brand store online! But, unlike Himalaya, Cinthol or Kaleesuwari do not have exclusive brand stores offline, and it doesn’t make sense for them to have it either, given the limited number of products in their catalog. Such brands need to think harder on the question of, ‘why would people buy from us when they have a far superior and familiar experience on an Amazon or Flipkart or Big Basket?’. Answering that question honestly and thoughtfully would help shape their online brand store strategy.

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