Mumbai: It is worldwide known that average Indian consumer loves foreign sounding brand names over Indian names, as they are considered more up-market or having better quality.
Pogo Housing Ltd learned about this in a unexpected way when they recently launched their latest project in Pune, ‘Shiva-Parvati Residency’, a premium housing scheme with 500 luxury flats spread over 20 acres. The promised amenities included swimming pool, gym, tennis court, clubhouse, children’s play area.
The project was launched on 1st June, 2015 amidst much fanfare in the presence of senior management of Pogo Housing Ltd. The function even had free lunch for the prospective flat buyers.
With huge response to the launch by prospective buyers, the management knew they have hit bull’s eye this time. They could see the unprecedented profit from this project in those buyer’s faces.
But once the initial euphoria faded, the company was in a big shock, as none of the buyers who had registered with them seemed to be coming back to make the booking. Most of the prospective buyers had seen the sample flat and liked it, but somehow the company was hardly getting any booking from them.
The management was worried about the abysmal response, and they had taken huge loan from lenders to start the construction on time and if company didn’t get initial booking amounts from customers, it was going to be difficult to repay the lenders.
The company conducted various meetings and brainstorming sessions with sales agents and architects to find out what could be the reason for low response, but no one was able to give out any solution. One official from the company said on the condition of anonymity, the management even contacted Nirmal Baba to seek his blessing for their project.
Nirmal baba, in his trademark style, told the company management to have a samosa party with green chutney over the project site. But when that didn’t help either, the management knew they needed a miracle to save their project.
This is when one of sales agents raised this idea to change the name of the scheme to a foreign sounding location. The proposal, initially laughed at by many in his team, was to change the scheme name to some random name of any village from Italy or France.
The sales agent told this reporter that he used to be a psychology major during college and thus he knew what can attract customers to a product. He gave several examples of housing schemes with foreign location names which were sold off within days of launch.
The management, though sceptical initially, gave nod to this proposal. Overnight, the scheme name was duly changed to ‘Terracina’, a small Italian town, about 100 km from Rome. A big ad was placed in the all the major newspapers the next morning, announcing the name change.
Within hours of the ad getting published, the phones at the site location wouldn’t stop ringing. There were continuous enquiries about bookings and within days the complete scheme was booked.
The sales agent was promoted by Pogo Housing Ltd to be the ‘Chief Housing Scheme Naming Officer’ for all the upcoming projects by the company, and 2 interns were provided to him. “They specially created this role for me, and gave a special cabin to me with the maps of world’s most exotic places which I need to use to decided next project names,” said the ex-sales agent.