Rahul Phonge_Anarock_EditedIn the 99acres.com Realty Buzz Webinar conducted on May 29, 2020, Rahul Phondge, Chief Business Office-Residential Services, ANAROCK Property Consultants, shared his insights on the relevance of promotional schemes in sustaining businesses and how to “Re-imagine real estate marketing strategies in the midst of COVID-19”. Of the several questions received during the event, the expert extensively conversed on the cost effectiveness of the marketing spends in terms of Cost Per Lead (CPL) and the factors driving realty demand in Tier II cities amid the COVID-19 outbreak. He also threw light upon the emerging trends in the real estate sector that may alter the market dynamics in the near-term.

Here's the transcript of the conversation with Rahul Phondge, Chief Business Officer, Residential Services, ANAROCK Property Consultants from the 99acres Realty Buzz Webinar.

In these tough times, the real estate industry has witnessed many behavioural changes. On the customer front, as people are stuck indoors, they have realised the importance of having a home. With challenges such as space constraints and families staying together, people more than ever wish to have a house of their own. Genuine buyers are active in the market and rigorously enquiring about the properties via digital platforms. In terms of investors, people who did not consider real estate as an investment proposition vis-à-vis other options such as mutual funds and stocks have wiped off. Hence only serious buyers remain, who wish to earn better capital appreciation. People staying on rent have also realised the importance of owning a house and are, hence, exploring options.

Developers are also avoiding site visits to curb the spread of the contagion; therefore, digital platforms have become the new medium of trade. Customers too are enjoying the digital access as they do not have to step out the comfort of their homes to view the project. Overall, the entire experience of property buying has become hassle-free and enriching.

As an aggregator platform, we understand that the lead volume has decreased, but whatever traffic we are witnessing is of presumably better quality. Do you see a better qualification rate for the current leads pouring in for your projects? Also, can we touch upon the cost-effectiveness of the marketing spends in terms of CPL?

The traditional offline media, which accounted for a significant share of real estate promotions in the pre-COVID times, is nowhere to be seen due to many limitations after the outbreak of the global epidemic. The digital world, on the contrary, has seen a 20-25 percent hike in mobile usage. OTT platforms, including entertainment apps such as Zee5 and Voot, among others, have also garnered considerable traction as there is no new content available on television. Besides, news portals have clocked a 22 percent growth in the overall traffic in the post-COVID period when compared to pre-pandemic times. Interestingly, organic leads on property portals such as 99acres.com have also surged. Given the digital popularity, the majority of the advertisers are pushing their monies on online platforms. New digital formats help not only drive business but also build a brand image. Additionally, in the online world, it is much easy to track all the intelligence that too at lower costs which have lured many small developers from Tier-II cities as well.

In respect to marketing spend, the Cost Per Lead (CPL), has dropped by 20 percent after the pandemic which further makes the digital platform a lucrative option to promote projects and build brand image in the changing times.

While there has been a hit to the real estate business in the metros; we see that the non-metros are still generating considerable demand. This is corroborated by the traffic we get on our platform from the non-metros. Are you also witnessing similar trends and how are you catering to this segment?

Post the outburst of the COVID-19; there has been a massive population shift across metro cities. With migrant professionals moving back to their home towns, particularly to Tier-II cities, the residential demand in non-metros has increased. Also, people in non-metros have been highly aware of the importance of having their residential property and benefits it may render in the times of financial adversity.

Additionally, there has been a substantial rise in the quality of residential projects in the non-metros. However, the property prices remain relatively lower vis-à-vis metro cities which have surged the residential demand in the former locations, particularly in the price bracket of Rs 40-70 lakh. Not only regional buyers but people from neighbouring metro cities are also investing in Tier-II cities, to build a future asset and ensure financial safety.

In terms of audiences reach, the regional connect is utmost crucial for marketing in Tier-II cities. It is the fundamental thing wherein most of the developers and channels are investing hugely. Moreover, the traditionally rich offline media, which is locally followed, has also paved its way to the new age media and switching to digital platforms.