Storyboard18 | Quick commerce space heats up; brands pump ad money to woo Indians

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#10-minute delivery, #Aadit Palicha, #Advertising, Blinkit, #brands, #E-commerce, #Kaivalya Vohra, #quick commerce, #Storyboard18, Zepto, Moneycontrol reported, Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), founded by 19-year olds

The 10-minute delivery promise of some quick-commerce startups is clutter-breaking, but it should come with an asterisk. (Image: Reuters)

Zepto, the 10-minute grocery delivery startup, found itself in a regulatory soup as its recent ad campaign has been questioned on safety grounds.

the latest tech news, global tech news daily, tech news today, startups, usa tech, asia tech, china tech, eu tech, global tech, in-depth electronics reviews, 24h tech news, 24h tech news, top mobile apps, tech news daily, gaming hardware, big tech news, useful technology tips, expert interviews, reporting on the business of technology, venture capital funding, programing language

Moneycontrol reported that ad industry watchdog the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) issued a show cause notice to Zepto, following a consumer complaint against a pamphlet ad supplied with The Times of India two weeks ago.

“Isn’t it dangerous and not practical all the time? Dangerous because for achieving the time period the delivery person will take risk while riding on road as he/she needs to reach in 10 minutes,” the unnamed complainant is quoted in the notice.

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Zepto ads use the brand’s core colour scheme of violet and pink. The creatives simply show groceries as meteors with the brand promise ‘Groceries delivered in 10 minutes’.

In an emailed response to Storyboard18, ASCI stated, “Since this is an active complaint, we will not be able to offer any further comment. The decision shall be made public in line with our process in due course after all appeal processes have been availed of by the complainant or the advertiser, or lapsed.”

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Zepto was founded in late 2020 and it launched services from April 2021. The startup was founded by 19-year olds Aadit Palicha and Kaivalya Vohra, who dropped out of a computer science engineering program at Stanford University.

The company has been bullish on pitching itself to value-conscious Indians, offering 10-minute delivery of groceries catering to the impulse shoppers or urgent orders which require quick delivery. It has worked with ad agency L&K Saatchi & Saatchi to create ads and has been leveraging digital, social and mainline media platforms (television , print and outdoor) to convey its quick delivery promise.​

Zepto’s rival SoftBank-backed Blinkit (earlier known as Grofers which pivoted to the quick-commerce segment) has also been pushing the convenience of delivery in 10 minutes and less through a variety of ads. A billboard creative of the company, for instance, shows a woman eating chocolate with accompanying text stating  “Crave it? Blinkit. Delivers in 10 minutes”. The company has also been leveraging digital, social and meme marketing to promote its service.

Clearly, the quick commerce segment is heating up with players spending advertising money to woo consumers to give in to their impulse shopping. These startups work on a model where groceries are packed within a few minutes at dark stores, or small warehouses in densely populated neighbourhood buildings, and delivered by delivery bike riders to nearby locations within about seven minutes.

Experts believe that while so far the advertising strategy of these players has not been problematic, the quick commerce model itself might have pitfalls, when it comes to pushing its delivery angels to race against time, traffic and the city and its potholes.

“Brands must stay cautious and careful when they promise time-based delivery and pride themselves in doing it and incentivising speed. Speed is ok on the shop-floor, but is certainly not ok on our risky roads,” says Harish Bijoor, a branding expert who has helped build several brands across sectors.

Brands that have attempted “to glamorise quick commerce need to take a wee bit of a back-step and make amends. A few accidents and your brand is the villain. Watch out!” warns Bijoor.

Competition and complaints

Research firm RedSeer has predicted that India’s quick commerce sector, worth $300 million in 2021, will grow 10-15 times to touch $5 billion by 2025. Apart from Zepto and Blinkit, the segment has players such as Swiggy’s Instamart and Reliance-funded Dunzo which have stuck to more conservative delivery timelines of 15 to 40 minutes.

Former ASCI secretary general Shweta Purandare who now runs her agency Tap-a- Gain that provides advertising regulatory compliance consultancy services, finds that the “ten minutes” delivery promise is quite clutter breaking which takes on e-commerce giants like Amazon that has a two-hour delivery promise.

“The advertiser (Zepto), in their website, has specified localities wherein such deliveries would be feasible. If e-commerce can tap into and leverage the local kirana store network, it is a win-win-win for all – the consumer- mom and pop stores and the advertiser. Imagine if the same idea can be extrapolated to delivery of medical supplies/ services / lab tests etc.,” she points out.

On a lighter note, Purandare says that the Zepto advertisement in no way implies that the delivery team will fly or jump signals to reach their destination. “Looks like the ads have forced competition to sit up and take note – and register a complaint! With the addition of appropriate disclaimer/s, the ads are 10/10,” she adds.

#10-minute delivery, #Aadit Palicha, #Advertising, Blinkit, #brands, #E-commerce, #Kaivalya Vohra, #quick commerce, #Storyboard18, Zepto, Moneycontrol reported, Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), founded by 19-year olds
An anonymous complaint against this advertisement by Zepto pointed out dangers like reckless driving by delivery agents to meet the 10-minute deadline.

Service and not the ad is in question

Amit Akali, chief creative officer and co-founder at Wondrlab, seems to echo Purandare’s views. He believes that the complainant is not questioning the Zepto advertising but the service itself.

“To me, the ads look fine as they clearly talk about the 10-minute delivery promise. At the most, I would add “conditions apply” disclaimer to it.  The ASCI complaint could have also come from competition as well,” he notes.

“Also, who are we to question the promise? I presume that the company is scrupulously following safety protocols to ensure quick deliveries either by keeping warehouses in dense delivery areas or by employing a certain number of delivery partners. If they are not penalising their drivers for late deliveries then safety should not be an issue,” he concludes.

The Domino’s promise

The stage for these quick commerce players was set in 2003, when Paresh Rawal danced in a Domino’s ad, happy about scoring a free pizza. “He was sure that there was no way they could keep up their delivery promise of 30 minutes or free. To Rawal, there was no ‘or’. It surely was going to be free. Alas, his character is disappointed to find that Domino’s was in fact able to keep its word. A 30-minute delivery was a certainty,” pointed out Prakash Sharma and Reshma Tonse, co-founders at 1001 Stories.

1001 Stories is a user-consumer research and solutions consultancy which uses behavioural science and context architecture to analyse, understand and influence human behaviour.

Sharma and Tonse wrote in an article for Storyboard18 that human beings do not enjoy uncertainty. This is called Ambiguity Aversion Bias, or plainly, ‘better the devil you know than the devil you don’t’.

Essentially, it means that we do not mind the wait. It is not knowing how long to wait that grinds our gears. This is why, years ago, Domino’s 30 minutes promise sold.

Sharma and Tonse said that the consumer placing an order on a delivery app does not actually order anything from the app itself. What the app offers is the ability to pick up and deliver items, for a fee. In this sense, all aggregators are at parity. But competition demands differentiation: “As product companies, their true offering is their unique system of efficiency. The technical and logistical systems are the only product that they can improve, optimize or even revolutionize. The delivery guy can’t feature in this optimization. The eye is on the product and he is not a variable that can be updated.”

They added, “Solving the hyperlocal challenge is then the natural evolution for a grocery delivery app. In this world, and with these metrics, 10 minutes delivery time is the perfect goal to aspire for – a new limit to set. And the consumer will get it, whether she asked for it or not.”

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