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Coupling for convenience

In a bid to encourage sales, unlikely retailers are pooling resources to offer consumers more value for their money.

Sushmita Choudhury | Print Edition: April 16, 2009

Heard the jingle, 'dandruff-free toh coffee free' on the radio recently? The campaign by Hindustan Unilever's Clinic All Clear shampoo, in partnership with Cafe Coffee Day, announced for Women's Day, drew a lot of laughs. But it also put the spotlight on a burgeoning trend—co-promotions.

In this retail strategy, two brands come together to attract consumers with value additions instead of individual price cuts. After a deluge of recession-driven bargains, where many a retailer learnt that price cuts usually led to deferred purchases as consumers expected further discounts, the focus is now on non-price promotions. Says Raghav Gupta, president, Technopak Advisors: "Promotions that are not linked to direct price cuts help in the crossselling of products. When you offer a gift voucher of another brand, the latter shares the cost of promotion." This explains why retailers are increasingly opting for co-promotions. Which means that you, the consumer, should keep your eyes peeled for the best deals.

Take Vodafone Tuesdays. As per the scheme, Vodafone mobile subscribers can bag two movie tickets or two meals for the price of one on Tuesdays. In Delhi and NCR, the scheme is in association with Satyam Multiplex, Bercos, Tantra, Rock Café and Little Italy. In Mumbai, the offer is available at Fame, Cinemax and single-screen theatres like Roxy, Premier and Sterling, while the restaurant partners include Only Paranthas and New Yorker.

If you buy an LG product costing more than Rs 1,501, you will get a 15% discount at the Ferns 'n' Petals stores. This means that the bouquet of the month, with five free Dairy Milk chocolate bars, costing Rs 399 will be cheaper by about Rs 60. By itself it might not seem to be a significant advantage, but if you have decided to buy a mobile phone, TV, vacuum cleaner or an AC, you might as well go to a vendor that is giving you something extra.

Some of the most exciting copromotions are in the travel sector. Leading online travel facilitator yatra.com is offering several 'power deals' to its customers ranging from flat discounts to gift vouchers. For example, if you book a domestic flight, you can earn a 20% discount on Domino's pizzas (not valid on coke items and the basic category of pizzas). If you book a holiday package costing more than Rs 2,600 or an international flight, you can earn a Rs 500 gift voucher from HomeShop18, an online and on-air cross-country retail marketing and distribution venture.

Cleartrip, another travel portal, is offering a free Matrix SIM card with Rs 500 worth of free talk time on booking an international flight. This post–paid mobile connection will help you save up to 60% on your international roaming bills. What's more, you'll get your number before departure and will be able to receive incoming calls for free in most countries. However, the offer is only valid in select countries and up to 10 April. In addition, the travel portal is promising a free personalised desktop calendar worth Rs 295 from zoomin.com—a photo sharing and printing portal— with every booking of Jet Airways or JetLite flight.

JetPrivilege, the frequent flyer programme of Jet Airways, has now tied up with Seventymm, India's largest movie rental service. Not only do JetPrivilege members—it only takes five minutes to sign up— enjoy lower rates as the registration fee is waived, but can also earn reward miles. For instance, fresh subscriptions for a six-month plan will earn 315 reward miles, while a renewal earns 125 miles.

Another relatively new programme partner is The Leela Group of hotels. JetPrivilege members staying at the Leela Kempinski in Mumbai or Bengaluru will enjoy 20% off on all spa treatments and complimentary ironing. Additionally, reservations made for the royal club rooms will be automatically upgraded to suites. The offer is valid till end-April.

Not to be outdone, SriLankan Holidays, the leisure arm of SriLankan Airlines, is offering 'Second Passenger Travels at One Rupee Only' package for Indian tourists. Those signing up for a three-night tour, valid till 30 April, will also receive a discount booklet with vouchers offering up to 25% off at over a dozen popular establishments in Colombo ranging from spas and jewellery shops to casinos. Operating from seven cities—Delhi, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Goa, Chennai, Tiruchy and Thiruvananthapuram —the packages start at Rs 13,599 and include visa on arrival, return air fare, accommodation, breakfast and all airport transfers.

In a bid to encourage customers to swipe more frequently, banks too are widening the range of their copromotions, going beyond the mainstays like fuel, dining out and travel. For instance, if you own an HSBC debit card, you will be entitled to a 30% discount on the slimming treatments at the IOSIS medispa chain and a 10% discount on Da Milano merchandise till end-April.

Even discount stores are not immune to the co-promotions phenomena. The Loot, a chain of multibrand discount stores, stocking a range of products in apparels, footwear and entertainment is offering gift vouchers of Rs 100 with every VCD of Slumdog Millionaire.

Says Jay Gupta, managing director, The Loot India: "Co-promotions help gain footfalls since, by nature, Indians are bargain hunters." According to him, the more-goodsfor-less-money concept, not just the discount store format, will be a key driver this year. Little wonder then that the chain with 91 stores—up from 30 stores in 2008—plans to open 200 stores by next year. In fact, according to India Reports, discount retailing is the big new business opportunity for Indian retailers— never mind the Subhiksha debacle.

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