Q] Aamir Khan, who has not had a major release in two years, has been roped in as your brand ambassador. What is the thought process behind choosing someone who has been away from the limelight for so long?
At Vedantu, when we were thinking of this decision, long term is what we had in mind. When we actually think about brands, we need to understand that brands are all long term. Although he has not released any notable films recently, what we do remember him for is some of the brands he has created through genuine work like Satyamev Jayate. What he has done is educate the entire country and that is what we at Vedantu are about, what we stand for. It was an easy decision. In fact, the challenge was to convince him because he is particular about whom he supports and endorses.
Q] Given what we currently see on TV about Bollywood, has roping in brand ambassadors from Bollywood become a risky affair?
Given the nature of how these things are, none of it is predictable. When Vedantu was thinking of a brand ambassador, we were thinking about – what do we stand for? Whom should we associate with? At the end of the day, it is education and it is not transactional. It is a responsibility. We put in a lot of effort and time in identifying that. What we loved about Aamir is the personification of roles he has played over the years, which often have a motivational element in them. Be it Taare Zameen Par or Dangal, and although he was a student in 3 Idiots, he taught a lot of lessons. When we look at Vedantu (and I am a teacher myself), we always wanted to associate with someone who can stand for those values. Through him, we can talk about the values of holistic education and no one other than Aamir represents it. We spent a lot of time on it, a process that went on for 4-5 months. Some of these things we hear about are recent but our process was 4-5 months in the making.
Q] We are at a stage where schools are on the verge of opening up, according to recent news reports. How does Vedantu plan to stay relevant as a mainstream learning option and not become an extra tutorial hand?
I can answer this in two parts: reopening schools is a good thing for Vedantu because what was happening with schools taking classes online, it increased the screen time for the kids which was a concern. When offline tuitions and coaching centres open up, it is something that will affect us. As things stand today, parents are reluctant to send kids to school, forget about coaching centres. We are very far away from the point where parents will be ready. We are a year away from it. From a long-term perspective, what this event has done for online education companies is it has created massive brand awareness and category awareness, and that is the biggest positive. It has a permanent impact. Although growth rates are unprecedented, we are now growing 6-7 times year-on-year now, and last year, it was 3x. Will the growth rate continue even after next year when everything opens up? The answer is no. It will come down, but online education is here to stay.
Q] Has there been a difference in the marketing strategy of Vedantu pre and post COVID? How has it changed over the last year?
It has changed massively. The major change has been Aamir. Whatever we were spending before this, we have made it three times the amount now. This is the time. Every parent is home. They are thinking about it. It is in their frame of mind. It is the perfect time for us to create awareness about the category. Vedantu is a leader in live tutoring so it makes sense for us to spend massively to continue our market dominance.
Q] Given that digital marketing is seeing a rapid growth, is that your focus as well? What does your marketing mix look like?
Digital is more of a steady thing. We did increase our spending a bit but it is not as drastic as we did on brand. We increased Digital by 1.5 times. But the brand is where we really trained our focus. We could not do much in Print because of the lockdown. TV was the only option for all of us. We spent the majority of it on TV. We also spend a lot on our social media channels such as YouTube.
Q] Which are the growth drivers you have identified for the brand? Is the strategy different for tier 2 and 3 cities?
We have students who take a free live class and then we convert them to a paid user. More than 1.5 million students have taken a live class, and out of that, 78% come from tier 2 and tier 3 cities. Even when we take paid users, nearly 53% come from these cities. The point is we are already there. Vedantu is well penetrated in the top 20 cities. The number is only going to improve in the next two years.
ABOUT THE BRAND
Vedantu is a live interactive online learning platform for students. It offers individual and group classes delivered by experienced teachers in a real-time, virtual learning through their indigenous platform.
Media agency: Essence
Social, Creative & Digital agency: Autumn Grey
PR agency: Archetype
Vamsi Krishna is the CEO and Co-Founder of Vedantu, which enables students to learn online. He primarily oversees the business and strategy for the brand, as well as critical functions like branding, marketing and recruitment. He has also been a teacher for more than 10 years, and is an alumnus of IIT-Bombay.
All I would like to say is that it is important to understand the consumer first. In education (and I will not generalise it for other markets), keep the child at the centre. What they want is more important rather than the product you have.