Moumita Bakshi
Nithya Subramanian

New Delhi, June 21

FUELLED by hectic pace of activity and a swelling project portfolio, real estate developers, including DLF, Parsvnath and Vatika, plan to almost double their advertising budget for the current fiscal.

In 2004, the sector emerged as the fourth largest advertiser, a far cry from 164th rank a decade ago. This time too it seems to be vying for a top position.

"Real estate sector has high value purchases. Deals are well thought out and not impulse buys. Hence, a lot depends on creating high visibility and awareness," Mr Ajay Khanna, Executive Director, DLF Retail Developers Ltd, said.

DLF, in fact, plans to increase its advertising spend to Rs 8-10 crore in the current fiscal from Rs 4-5 crore last year. "The escalation in the advertising budget is on account of new retail projects. While ads are focused on specific projects, they also take care of corporate image building," he said. The company has lined up 6-7 project launches across the northern region, this year.

According to Mr Pradeep Jain, Chairman of Parsvnath Developers, which intends to double its ad budget to Rs 10 crore this year, the increased spend is reflective of the healthy project portfolio of builders. Parsvnath, which has so far used print and hoardings, now plans to reach out to consumers through television. "There are bullish sentiments in the real estate market and every player wants to strengthen his company's image," Mr Jain said.

As per the latest estimates by AdEx India, the total money pumped in by real estate firms on overall display ads (excluding classifieds) in the print media was Rs 130 crore in 2004. The industry estimates for outdoor advertising was an additional Rs 40-45 crore. If one were to include the classifieds, the total spend in print media would have touched Rs 250 crore.

"There is a distinct movement towards advertising on TV, specially on regional and news channels. Instead of buying 30-second ad-spots, players prefer slot sales which entail participating in 30-minute realty programmes and showcasing features of a project," Mr Atul Phadnis, Vice-President, TAM India pointed, out.

Vatika Group estimates an ad spend of Rs 4-5 crore this year, a figure that could go as high as Rs 7.5 crore, if its proposed township project in Gurgaon is announced. The company's ad spend stood at Rs 3.5 crore in 2004-05.

Then there are players like Omaxe that have moved a step ahead and are trying to invoke an instant brand recall by distributing promotional items such as car shades. Mr Kunal Banerji, Senior Vice-President (Marketing) of Omaxe, said the company plans to spend Rs 10 crore on advertising this year, against Rs 8 crore last year.

However, DLF's Mr Khanna felt that in the ultimate analysis, the retail community is informed of a project by an advertisement, but goes by the "word of mouth" reputation of the builder. "It's trust that counts," he added.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated June 22, 2005)
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