DELHI: The depreciating rupee has turned out to be a blessing in disguise for big-ticket properties across India. With properties almost 30 per cent cheaper for non resident Indians (NRIs), real estate majors have stepped up their efforts, hitch hiking on social media and marketing premium deals to net-savvy NRI customers.
The slowdown in the domestic real estate market has got developers turning to an alternative and cost effective marketing tool — social media, to pitch various projects to NRI investors. Leading realty developers are now using Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to reach prospective NRI buyers, helping them identify the right property, negotiate a deal, and help repatriate large sums of money home.
As R. Karthik, Chief Marketing Officer of the Lodha Group said, “Given that the cost of reaching out to non resident Indian clients is quite high, it makes sense to tap the social media route. We are planning different initiatives for our new projects, since about 15 to 20 per cent of our sales come from NRI customers.”
In the case of Godrej Properties, approximately 16 per cent of the total customer base is NRI. “Considering that we are a pan-India player, the percentages are skewed on the location of the project. However, the rupee depreciation has definitely shifted our focus on NRI investors, who consider real estate as an asset class,” said Girish Shah, Executive Vice-President (Sales and Marketing), Godrej Properties. “We are getting good traction in the overseas market with the rupee fall.”
Godrej Properties had proactively activated its rupee depreciation campaign much before it became news, said Shah. “Our online approach is focussed on tapping potential investors in geographies which have traditionally given us good traction. We use social media to build on the values and culture which we believe in, rather than use it as an instrument to sell,” added Shah.
However, most developers and realty majors are not that shy, providing lots of information online to increase awareness of their new projects, in a bid to help NRIs make the right purchase decision. Most have taken to digital media to boost their business, eager to leverage their offline business — Mahindra Lifespaces and its social media drive is a case in point.
As Smeeta Neogi, Vice-President, Marketing, Mahindra Lifespaces said, “We are present across key platforms of social media. Our presence encompasses Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and we have recently entered Pinterest.”
Stating that the “medium is not focused on getting leads, but for interactivity, and to carry out conversations, provide points of view and keep our fans and associates informed on the latest developments,” Neogi said, “however, we do get a lot of international interest expressed through our digital initiatives as well as domestic enquiries linked to these and our Web site.”
Tapping social media is also getting developers to cut down on costs.
As Rajeeb Dash, Head of Marketing, at Tata Housing noted, “Tapping NRIs through the social media route helps cut marketing costs by 30 to 40 per cent, and also makes our marketing efforts more focussed . Since the rupee depreciation of the last two months, NRI enquiries are up by 20 to 25 per cent.”
Stating that NRI clients typically “are extremely Net savvy and research online for everything,” he added, “social media helps us customise their housing needs. We are aggressively offering them a good package online, with specific talking points in our projects such as an elevated jogging track and an infinity pool on the rooftop, which would attract NRI customers.”
Not just as an investment option, but for some it could be a home to come back to. As Godrej’s Shah said, “NRIs today are not only looking at real estate as an investment option, but also buying a home which they might end up staying in, if they intend to return to India.”
Tata Housing is active on Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, and Pinterest. “Providing real estate imagery and visuals to give a sense to the customers of what to expect is a big part of our marketing efforts. Social media gives us the platform to do just that, given its emphasis on pictures, visuals and imagery,” added Dash.
Godrej Properties’ social media presence runs across YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest and multiple digital tools such as direct online chats targeting NRIs. As Shah said, “We even have customised online outreach tools for our NRI customers that are specific to various NRI communities such as Gujaratis, Marwaris etc.”
When the economy is in turmoil and many real estate projects are not finding ready buyers in the domestic market, a cost effective medium like digital is aiding the sector, said Srinivasan Swamy, President, International Advertising Association (IAA) India Chapter.
“Across the world, digital and social media have become the platform to create, impact, and foster brand experiences,” said Swamy. The rupee depreciation is clearly bringing NRI investors home.