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Kolkata builders offer value-adds

Kolkata | Updated on March 19, 2011 Published on March 19, 2011

Merely highlighting the price or number of flats as a project's USP is now passe. Developers in eastern India, particularly Kolkata, are now going the extra mile through aggressive marketing techniques that vary from incentives to buyers to hiring personal relationship managers, to boost sales.

Kolkata is now witness to different developers competing against each other and against established brands to gain a foothold in the sector.

Says Mr Santosh Rungta, President, Confederation of Real Estate Developers Association of India (Credai): “The sector has prospects for all players operating across different segments fromaffordable to luxury housing.”

NEW TREND

The trend of offering value-added services has been a recent development in the Kolkata market, initiated by only a handful of developers. The trend which was restricted to high-end projects is now catching up in the affordable segment.

The Eden Group, with 21 projects coming up in Kolkata, (from premium to affordable ones), has already gone on a marketing spree. It has not only roped in a brand ambassador, Konkona Sen Sharma, but is also aggressively promoting its value-added services (called Eden Privilege Care).

The company has tied up with different home décor companies and is in talks with paint companies to offer discount to customers once they purchase an apartment from them.

It is also providing a personal relationship manager for addressing queries by its clients after taking possession of the apartment.

“People are not just satisfied with buying an apartment anymore. They want certain additional services and this is where we come in. We act as the facilitator between our client and these services,” Mr. Harshvardhan Modi, Managing Director, Eden Group, told Business Line.

Some developers highlight the advantageous location of a project as an additional benefit. Some also highlight the inclusion of gymnasiums, swimming pool facilities and health clubs as their USP.

Even customised flats ‘built according to the requirement of a buyer' have found a toehold in the sector.

BIG Brands unfazed

Bigger brandsremain unperturbed by such aggressive marketing by smaller players. For them, the preference of a developers' name will obviously prevail over the marketing strategies adopted by a competitor.

Says Mr Pradeep Surekha, President (Credai - Bengal):“They are no threats to big brands. At the end of the day, tie-ups or marketing do not affect a brand.”

Mr Surekha was quick to point out that in earlier instances, different developers had tied up to offer air-conditioners at a discount, but the schemes met with different degrees of success.

OPPORTUNITY FOR BUYERS

According to industry sources, the competition will benefit the buyers.

Mr Mayank Saksena, Managing Director - Kolkata at Jones Lang LaSalle India, conceded that large players will benefit from their established reputations and brand equity.

However, any additional value that a smaller player can bring to the table will introduce a new element of competition, he added.

“The benefits, if any, would vary on a project-to-project basis. There are a number of variables that give real value to a property. These factors are location, amenities and price. Assuming that these factors are in place and the tie-ups with interior designer or paint companies ensure the delivery of a superior product at a competitive rate, buyers will definitely have a larger choice,” he maintained.

According to him, for large developers, tie-ups with branded interior design, modular kitchen, home appliances, security system and home automation companies do have an impact on buyer sentiments in the of premium projects in primary metros and select Tier II cities.

The approach can be tweaked to suit the sentiments of smaller markets.

However, certain questions are also being raised regarding the effectiveness of the marketing strategy, especially when buyers work out the total cost inclusive of value addition for comparative evaluaton.

Mr Saksena pointed out that the marketing outreach by smaller developers in a conservative market such as Kolkata will always depend on the “actual, tangible value” delivered to the buyer.

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