How consumer centricity helped OLX make its best business decisions

Amid economic slowdown and tightening of consumer pockets, one brand might have found itself a niche by offering a frictionless experience to the customer – OLX. Launched in 2006, OLX has become a global online marketplace for used goods and is foraying into new verticals by observing everyday opportunities in the market.

In March 2019, the brand announced its refreshed identity as a consequence of its global redirection. Sapna Arora, who helms brand marketing initiatives at OLX as their Chief Marketing Officer, said, “We did research on where we stood as a brand and realised that consumers did not know about some of the improvements we had made on the platform. We wanted to talk to them in a new way. We conducted a research where we spoke to the millennial consumers across 45 countries around the world. The new refreshed look of the brand was backed by the changes we had made on the product front.”

The refreshed look is far more graphic than the previous logo and, according to Arora, is meant to represent consumer choice. ‘O’ represents something that they choose and ‘X’ represents something that is rejected.

Interestingly, while OLX claims to be India’s No.1 classifieds ads business, India is not OLX’s biggest market internationally. It comes second to Poland, a country with a population of 3.84 crore, which speaks to how underpenetrated a market India really is.

Arora states, “India is a market that the world is very keenly looking to. It is the same factor we have observed in other categories and other industries as well. There is a very strong consumer pull, the penetration of Internet is growing. The consumer spend is strong and the disposable incomes are increasing.”

With 85 per cent market share in the classified business, OLX continues to see strong potential in Tier II, III markets that have become growth markets due to the increase in Internet penetration in the last two years. Why would these potential markets choose OLX? As Arora puts it, “OLX has a very strong legacy in the market and that plays to our advantage. Our brand recall is very high, where 80 per cent of our customers remember our brand. When somebody is thinking about buying and selling used goods, OLX is definitely an option they consider. We have a very healthy seller to buyer ratio on our platform. Again, this is a very strong hygiene factor on our platform, where we provide a safe transacting environment which is very reassuring for our consumers.”

The platform, which is backed by Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning capabilities, has put the consumer in the driving seat of the selling and buying process. It has also helped their platform weed out spam and offensive content faster. A voice messaging feature has been introduced in March this year to allow buyers and sellers to communicate without divulging their mobile numbers. 

As a digital platform, OLX understands that its tech heavy product might alienate some consumers. They have direct customer support which identifies red flags and alerts the users on the platform. Consumer awareness programmes in partnership with the Cyber Peace Foundation have helped curb and apprehend fraudsters who use the platform.

Arora observed that the platform constantly kept its ears to the ground to identify what the consumer wants. When asked what are the next steps for the brand, she said, “We’ve been a strong contender in the market for about a decade now. We hope to grow not only in the horizontal classifieds section but also other specific categories such as real estate, jobs and goods.”

This led to the launch of their sub brand, ‘OLX Cash My Car’, in November 2018 and acquisition of Asaanjobs in January 2019.

OLX is a leader in the buying and selling of pre-owned cars with 20,000 listings of owned cars posted on the platform daily. Arora says that the launch of OLX Cash My Car was motivated by targeting the consumer via the convenience angle. She states, “We realised there was a set of consumers who wanted more convenience to do the transaction faster. For those consumers, we have the Cash My Car store. We are at 50+ store strength right now. This is an extension of the OLX brand and backed by the same trust consumers have in parent brand as well as the same value that the consumer is confident about getting from us. There is the added advantage that you are able to close the transaction sooner. Theoretically, you could go there and get your car sold within an hour.”

With about 4 million pre-owned cars in the market and 3.3 million new cars that are sold in the market currently, OLX has already seen 20 per cent growth in OLX Cash My Car since its launch in November 2018. Arora claims the slowdown in the automobile sector has had negligible impact on the business of the sub brand.

Starting from August 1, 2019, OLX Cash My Car launched its TVC campaign. Conceptualised by Enormous Brands the TVC highlights the brands foray into the offline segment through OLX Cash My Car. The campaign has also gone live on Radio, Cinema and Digital.

Speaking about the creative concept, Arora said, “While we do see a lot of men doing transactions there are a lot of women influencing that decision in the background. They may not go and physically do the transaction and they do play a key role in the modus operandi of selling a car. That is reflected in our advertising as well.”

The acquisition of Asaanjobs portal also coincides with the economic downturn with jobs becoming scarce. The opportunity was there and one had only to grab it.

Arora says, “We are in the process of integrating it (Asaanjobs) with OLX right now. It is a technically robust platform that caters to the lower end of the market, that is, blue collared workers. What we realised was that at that end of the market there wasn’t enough technology being used. There is a gap in the supply that is available and the demand in the economy right now. The gap is between 60-70 million as far as demand and supply are concerned. With Asaanjobs we wanted to fill that gap.”

While it is still early days to see what the brand does with the job portal, Arora concludes that the platforms decisions are motivated by “a theme of offering more to our customers. We are constantly looking at ways of improving our proposition on that front.”


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