We are investing a lot in future-ready tech-solutions: Parikshit Pawar

The pandemic period has seen Shapoorji Pallonji Real Estate undertaking some out-of-the-box marketing initiatives. Recently, Shapoorji Pallonji Real Estate launched its digital platform, ‘Virturo’, to provide a seamless home buying experience to home buyers during the pandemic times with a digital site visit experience.

Despite the lockdown, Shapoorji Pallonji’s recent project Vanaha in Pune witnessed record sales in the last 6 months. Campaigns like ‘Let Your Kids Stumble Fumble & Grow’, ‘Breath-taking Vanaha’ and association with Amazon Prime Video have been very innovative and attracted a lot of buyers for their projects in Pune. This unique helicopter activation was introduced by Shapoorji Pallonji Real Estate to replace the stereotypical conferences and CP meets with unique helicopter rides and site tours for channel partners to provide a bird’s eye view of the complete landscape and the vicinity round it. Besides, noise level monitoring boards have been installed to record the quality of the environment along with large pollution soaking billboards placed in select localities to follow the campaign renditions strongly. Shapoorji Pallonji claims that these innovations have been done in real estate marketing for the first time.

In an exclusive interaction with Adgully, Parikshit Pawar, Senior Vice President and Head of Marketing, Shapoorji Pallonji Real Estate, speaks about the impact of the global pandemic on the real-estate industry, the recovery strategy, betting big on innovations and unique consumer experience, engagement with the audiences and more.

Real estate is one of the sectors that has been badly impacted by the pandemic. How are you recovering and what are some of the strategies you have adopted to bounce back?

 The outburst of the pandemic made us accelerate our digital transformation and move things to the next level. While we had our digital assets in place, there was a latent need to aggregate everything under one tech-platform. Within a few days of lockdown, we managed to launch a proprietary digital platform called ‘Virturo’. It gave an opportunity to the home buyers to buy our apartments from the comforts of their home. Virturo acted as a potent sales tool that enabled product sampling and closures across our portfolio. Additionally, we re-allocated major portions of our ATL budgets towards digital media, as we noticed a major shift in consumer behaviour. This helped us in aggregating not just good sales volume, but also generating good quality leads in this phase.

Umbrella lead generation campaigns were done across platforms, reinstating the importance of owning a home in such trying times. It made the campaign messaging very topical, thus, yielding good results across categories. As we approached closer to the unlock phase, it was important for us to get the timing right for our new product launches. Research done during the pandemic phase inferred that we would see a surge in home buying as things would open up. Fortunately, that is how the story unfolded. We received an overwhelming response to our product launches done across cities.

To give you a glimpse of our success we have sold more than 800 apartments at the launch of the project, called Joyville Hadapsar Annexe in East Pune.

Your prestigious project Vanaha in Pune has witnessed record sales. What is the recipe for that success?

Vanaha has a highly differentiated product proposition, located in the heart of one of the largest townships in India which boasts of over 90 acres of open spaces with abundant greens, including over 400 species of flora and fauna. Within these green spaces, residents can enjoy a host of modern and sustainable amenities. The overall development will provide a school, hospital, retail, and entertainment facilities.

This unique offering needed an equally unique approach in terms of product positioning. Thus, we focused on clutter-breaking innovations that complemented well with high decibel launch campaigns. The results were simply magical, to say the least.

We implemented a host of innovations during the campaign period, some of them have been outlined below:

‘Name the Project’ contest

We at Shapoorji Pallonji Real Estate believe in co-creating value with our stakeholders to derive maximum impact. In line with this philosophy, we ran a ‘Name for the Project’ contest on some of the leading social media platforms and invited names from people at large for one of our largest developments in Pune. This was probably done for the first time in the real estate space. We reached out to an audience of more than 32 lakh through this initiative. The name ‘Vanaha’ was chosen from around 15,000 name options that we had received.

Helicopter Ride for Channel Partners

‘Vanaha’ has been envisaged around the already existing vast green open spaces. During the pre-launch phase, we had arranged helicopter rides for more than 60 esteemed Channel Partners to give them a bird’s eye view of our land parcel. We were all over social media on the day of the activity as our partners posted their pictures on their social media pages with our hashtag #SkyHighWithSP. This created the desired ripples in the market during the launch phase.

See-through Hoarding

This is a unique display innovation that has been done at the VANAHA project site. The whole idea is to highlight the scenic beauty of the project with a see-through display board. Historically, marketing professionals use stock images to highlight project USPs. But in this case, the see-through hoarding uses no flex; it overlooks the breath-taking valley with a message that reads “Some billboards don’t need a visual”.

Pollution soaking billboards

We did an innovation on the outdoor media during the launch campaign of VANAHA. Since our site is in a valley, we enjoy better air quality compared to the city. The pollution soaking billboards have been installed in three prime city centre areas in Pune. These boards were blank on day one and over a few days, the text was readable as the pollution got soaked by the letters. This was a clear indicator of pollution in the city areas and substantiated our green living concept with less pollution.

Co-branded content creation with Amazon Prime Video during the 2nd Phase launch at VANAHA

We tied-up with Amazon Prime Video’s Web series, The Family Man Season 2, to promote the launch of the 2nd Phase of VANAHA. Two co-branded videos and multiple still collaterals were created to promote VANAHA on digital media. This association was first of its kind in real estate and changed the status quo of the conventional marketing mediums used in the sector. The campaign generated more than 8 million impressions in a short span of 15 days and our site visits increased multifold post the campaign launch. This campaign challenged the conventional marketing media used in the Real Estate industry and created new streams for promotional marketing.

We have successfully sold over 1000 apartments in both the launch phases of VANAHA.

Print Advertisement Innovations

We did one-of-a-kind print ad innovation in a leading newspaper, where news content was wrapped around the key visuals of VANAHA. This way of visualisation made the print ad very interesting, and it grabbed the attention of the reader.

Apart from that we released one print ad with our channel partner’s photographs which was done for the first time ever in the Real Estate industry where a developer has given recognition to his channel partners through a print ad. That initiative was highly appreciated by the broker community and now more and more channel partners want to associate with us.

Tell us more about your new OOH innovation for premium residential project BKC 28.

We have recently launched an innovative OOH campaign called ‘Own a Bandra Pincode’ for our newly launched premium residential project BKC 28. As a part of the campaign, we unveiled an innovative OOH display taking inspiration from the iconic Bandra-Worli Sea Link. We have installed a 3D hoarding which is one of a kind innovative display, used in real estate marketing. We have also created a representation of the Arabian Sea with a gigantic water tank which holds up to 25 tons of water. It has been grabbing eyeballs since the time of installation and has become a talk of the town in the advertising fraternity.

As a leading real estate brand, what is the key differentiator for Shapoorji Pallonji? Overall, how have you positioned the brand?

For over 150 years, Shapoorji Pallonji has been on the forefront of construction and engineering and is now a household name in real estate development. Many of our early projects have stood the test of time and serve as monuments to our age-old legacy. It’s our ability to take on projects of scale and complexity and our ability to deliver consistently that has helped us build a reputation amongst our partners and customers.

The brand has been positioned to be ‘Constantly Committed’ in every aspect of our business. Our relentless pursuit to consistently do better and go the extra mile is what sets up apart.

Overall, there is price stagnation in the real estate business as there are not enough takers. What has been your pricing strategy to woo customers?

On the contrary, prices have been steadily moving up along with sales numbers. Due to the pandemic, ‘home ownership’ has taken center stage. Millennials who were shying away from home purchase, have realized the importance of owning a home vs. renting one. To enable quicker closures, we have offered a range of flexi-payment options, without compromising on the property prices, making it a ‘win-win’ for both developers and end users.

Finally, how do you engage with your audience to be visible in the market?  What has been your focus on the digital media and how did you leverage it?

As a strategy, we use a combination of offline and online channels to engage with our target audience. While the ratio of online spends is gradually moving up in the new age marketing mix, we don’t see offline mediums losing their relevance in the immediate future.

Especially, conventional mediums like print and outdoor will continue to feature in our mix for big scale launches along with some of the leading digital platforms. The spend ratio was certainly skewed towards digital mediums in the pandemic, but that will get rationalised as we move along.

Digital and social media platforms have been used with a two-fold objective of brand building and lead generation. Today, due to our sustained performance marketing activities a large part of direct sales come through digital channels. Leading platforms such as Google, Facebook, Instagram and various advertisement networks have been the key sources for driving customer engagements. Additionally, we are investing a lot in future-ready tech-solutions to engage with our customers and partners.


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