War of Brands!

Karanvir Gupta
Well, if you are there on social media (oh a wrong query to make in fact, we all are) it must have been crazy to see our favourite online stores waging a war at each other in the most innovative ways possible. it’s been an age old practice for big brothers of industry to show their might by being there on all kind of media and taking jibes at their competitors. Some inglorious wars in the past have been Coke-Pepsi, TOI-The Hindu, Apple-Samsung and so on. Latest in the market were the new tycoons of Silicon Valley of India – the usurping e-commerce players out on the streets all determined and bullish.
It all started with Amazon’s #AurDikhao campaign that definitely let the customers know the huge variety of merchandise that is available on the marketplace with tie-ups with sellers/vendors from far and wide. However that didn’t go well down our own Indian e-commerce player Flipkart  (which has itself registered in  Singapore but hai to Indian hi) which came up with this anecdote that told that I found the object of desire but didn’t buy. And the ad ends with NahiKahreeda? # AchchaKiya. Probably a hint that you are going to get the same thing at cheaper price at Flipkart.
And it is here where it began. Snapdeal jumped in saying # AchchaKiya Bta diya # Yahanse Kahreedo, thereby inviting customers to come to them bypassing other players. Coupon Dunia which is a major discount player in the industry said Kahin se bhi kareedo #BachaoIdharSe (implying you can save only if you buy from here). So everyone had their own share of fun taking pot-shots at each other. This War of Brands eventually resulted in avalanche reaction.
E-commerce sector in India today is witnessing growth in full swing. With 35% CAGR (approx.) this sector has flourished to be a $16.4bn industry and is expected to reach $22bn by the end of this year. Interestingly e-tailing will form a mere $6bn of the overall e-commerce sector. This in turn is merely 1% of the overall retail industry in which independent retailers still rule the roost. However changing demographics such as increasing use of smartphone devices, increasing rural internet penetration are expected to leeway the path of more business for these e-tailing players.
This War of Brands is a reflection of the might they want to establish in the mind sets of the customers who can’t then think beyond these players for fulfilling their wish. As they say out of sight, out of mind. And these players are making sure this doesn’t happen and their billion dollar investment and effort doesn’t go unnoticed. This poster and campaign wars is what we see upfront.
But you will be surprised to know that the war is happening back-end at all levels from procuring the tech-wizards, product managers, marketing gurus from The Silicon Valley in US and bringing them here. There is a reverse brain drain happening right now. And no player is leaving the stone unturned to get the best out of it. In fact last year when Flipkart announced its $1bn investment Amazong CEO Jeff Bezos announced double the funding amount to be invested in expanding their fulfilment centre and hence the capacity.
So it is not all what we see, the WAR is on at all the levels from amount of funding they fetch each fiscal year, over who hires the better recruits, who markets themselves best and who comes out with flying colours ( read more number of market share). The question here is will they end up fighting for a bigger piece of pie or altogether increase the size of pie. The days to follow will tell. Meanwhile enjoy the cat fight and indulge in customer delight because #Sastamilega # Toh Khareedoge Kyun Nahi #PhirChaheJoBhiHo.
(The writer is an IIM Shillong Alumnus)