Should Builders Depend On Celebrity Endorsements?
India’s apex court is still figuring out how to offer relief to about 42,000 homebuyers who invested their hard-earned money in various projects two years after Amrapali Group was dragged to court over siphoning off investors’ money. In the meantime, team India’s former skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni has moved the Supreme Court to seek refund of over Rs 150 crore from the realtor whom he endorsed at one point of time.
Dhoni is not alone. In several instances, celebrities are seen quickly disassociating themselves from brands they previously endorsed as soon as trouble strikes. The most recent example is actor Priyanka Chopra severing ties with Nirav Modi Jewels after the company was caught in trouble over financial fraud. Well, the reverse is also true. Brands are quick to cut ties with celebrities caught in scandals. Champion Tiger Woods faced similar treatment.
In light of these examples, one is forced to think. Are realtors doing the right thing by spending a large part of their branding and marketing money if associates are akin to leaving the boat as soon as they sense any rocking? Should developers worth their salt depend on celebrity endorsements to sell their projects?
To give them their due, celebrity associations work like magic. They certainly help brands catch more eyeballs than many other forms of advertising. It is precisely for this reason brands spend millions annually to hire them and retain them. From toothpaste to jewels, celebrities help companies sell all things big and small.
But, is the expense worth it as far as real estate is concerned?
Reel versus real
A consumer may not think too much before they go to the store and order the same shampoo their favourite actor tells them to buy. The cost involved is not that significant. If they eventually find out that the product is not fit for their taste they would buy another one the next time they visit the store. They may in fact outright stop using the product if they are displeased.
Real estate is way too different from fast-moving consumer goods. The cost involved and the legal issues change everything for the property market. Any little mistake may cost the buyer his lifetime of saving. Correcting the mistake is almost always quite difficult and cumbersome. It is hard to imagine then that buyers would pick a housing project because a celebrity is telling them to do so. Millions of homebuyers who are currently waiting for developers to deliver their delayed projects across India’s major cities would vouch for that fact.
Even if we credit celebrity endorsements to have worked their magic on real estate sales, unhappy buyers have broken the last remains of that spell. Negativity publicity, in fact, is the biggest problem India’s realtors have to deal with currently. Apart from putting their act together as far as project completion goes, the builder community is also trying its level best to dispel this negativity.
While they are at it, developers may consider changing their branding strategy. A happy buyer is more likely to convince a confused prospective homebuyer to go for a certain project as compared to the latter’s favourite cricketer or footballer or actor.