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Minnat Lalpuria's 7Vachan: The Wedding Consultants’ Digital Marketing Dilemmas

CASE STUDY, ENTREPRENEURSHIP & STARTUPS
ET Cases, 16 Pages
AUTHOR(S) : Vandana Jayakumar and Dr. Nagendra V. Chowdary

Case Preview

Minnat Lalpuria’s 7Vachan: The Wedding Consultants’ Digital Marketing Dilemmas

 

Minnat Lalpuria Rao’s (Minnat) November 5th (2015) visit to Hyderabad wasn’t like her earlier visits. Minnat, Founder-CEO of 7Vachan.com (7Vachan), the online wedding consultant and services aggregator, was flying back to Mumbai from Hyderabad. 7Vachan was a three-year-old company having achieved many milestones overcoming several challenges. Minnat had come to Hyderabad for a meeting with her business advisors. During her flight, her mind was preoccupied with the discussion she had with her advisors – focusing on the company’s future course of action.

Minnat’s mind was preoccupied with two major aspects of her business – garnering the trust of its customers and having recently launched wedding photography as one of the wedding services vertical, bringing 1 lakh photographers onboard 7Vachan. While garnering and maintaining trust was a continuous process, Minnat was trying to figure out a way to onboard the wedding photographers in India to become their source of orders online and serve as their management software.

Providing the customers a choice of 1 lakh vendors (photographers) was one of the many things that 7Vachan was trying to do in an attempt to simplify the process of an Indian wedding while at the same time tapping the huge Indian wedding market which was still quite unorganized but offered tremendous business potential.

Metamorphosis of Indian Weddings

According to Alex Kuruvilla, President of Condé Nast India Pvt. Ltd. (a multi-platform editorial product company), an average Indian spends a staggering one-fifth of the wealth accumulated in his lifetime on a son or daughter’s wedding, second only to the investment made in the family home. Indian weddings are an elaborate affair across all castes and communities involving a lot of time, energy and money. Planning and executing an Indian wedding is therefore considered close to being a herculean task.............

Indian Wedding Industry: Catering to Time Starved and Experience Seeking Families

On the execution front, earlier weddings were planned by the kith and kin of the couple and were solemnized mostly at homes or at religious places. The scene gradually shifted to ‘Function Halls’ and ‘Marriage Gardens’ and the services (such as Food & Beverage (F&B), decoration, etc.) were outsourced to local vendors. Later the weddings started getting solemnized at Hotels and Banquet Halls..........

Minnat’s Entrepreneurial Journey

Minnat, hailing from a traditional Marwari11 family, was born and brought up in Mumbai. After completing engineering education in 2007, she acquired placement on-campus in Tata Consultancy Services (TCS). However, she quit in just 6 months as she realized that she was not cut out for an engineering job. She switched her field and started working for Quasar Media Pvt. Ltd., a digital marketing company, in Mumbai.............

7Vachan

7Vachan is an online wedding consulting and services aggregating company that helps customers organize weddings by leveraging 7Vachan’s varied experience and long association with vendors. 7Vachan’s expertise in organizing weddings helps customers save time and money. It connects the customers (couple about to get married and its family) to a large number of wedding service providers (vendors) through its online platform............

7Vachan’s Value Proposition

The Indian wedding industry being disorganized and fragmented and there being a plethora of industries (products and services) associated with wedding, 7Vachan decided to be an aggregator of all the wedding-related products and services. Minnat decided 7Vachan to be an aggregator and not a planner due to the limited scope of work that a wedding planner gets to do. A wedding planner being geography-centric could offer a limited choice of photographers.........

7Vachan’s Positioning

Initially, employing a top-down approach, 7Vachan was positioned as a ‘luxury upper middle class’ brand wherein it first targeted bigger brands (vendors) and upper middle class (customers) followed by smaller brands and middle class. The top-down approach was prompted by 7Vachan’s nature of business, which required an educated and evolved set of customers.............

7Vachan’s Portfolio of Services

7Vachan’s products and services could be defined in terms of three business verticals – venues, services (photographers, makeup, mehendi, etc.) and products (Exhibit V). 7Vachan did not want to be an e-commerce company. Hence, it planned to opt for third party associations for wedding products. The idea was to collaborate with existing players who were pioneers in their category of business and..........

Wedding Photography

Wedding photography underwent tremendous transformation in the last 7-8 years. Earlier, photography constituted just 1%-2% of the total wedding expenditure. However, as of 2015, it constituted nearly 7%-8% of the total wedding expenditure. Statistics on the number of searches done on wedding photography on Google on a daily basis substantiated the huge demand for wedding photography (Exhibit VIII).........

Pricing

Although 7Vachan was still experimenting with pricing, it was quite transparent and depended on the product or service being offered. For instance, there was no registration fee for booking a wedding venue. However, if a customer opted for booking a destination wedding, s/he was charged a registration fee of...........

Promotion

7Vachan employed ‘word-of-mouth’ and ‘digital marketing’ as its promotional strategies. While word-of-mouth was a natural promotion option in the wedding business, the company employed a digital marketing strategy, as it needed a high-impact but cost-effective strategy, given that 7Vachan............

A Case for Digital Marketing for 7Vachan’s Wedding Photography Vertical

Like venues, the wedding photography vertical also had vendors and customers. While 7Vachan gave the customers an opportunity to choose from a large number of wedding photographers and book the wedding photographer online, it gave the vendors i.e., the photographers, a platform to showcase their work and connect with the customers............

Digital Marketing Dilemmas

There were several online/internet marketing options that 7Vachan could opt for (Exhibit XII). With this portfolio of internet marketing options, 7Vachan embarked on its digital (internet) marketing campaign............

Assignment Questions

I. What are the new business opportunities that have emerged with several paradigm shifts in the way Indian weddings have been performed over the last few years? Analyze the changing landscape of the Indian wedding industry.
II. Based on the information provided in the case study, analyze 7Vachan’s business model. Does the new business vertical – photography – complement and sustain its business model?
III. ..........

Exhibits

Exhibit I: Metamorphosis of Indian Wedding

Exhibit II: Indian Wedding Services Aggregators

Exhibit III: 7Vachan's Offerings to Customers and Vendors

Exhibit IV: Industry Landscape – Large Underserved Market Creates an Exciting Opportunity

Exhibit V: 7Vachan's Portfolio of Services

Exhibit VI (a): 7Vachan's Operating Model for Customers

Exhibit VI (b): 7Vachan's Operating Model for Vendors

Exhibit VII: Booking a Wedding Venue Online

Exhibit VIII: Number of Daily Google Searches on Wedding Photography

Exhibit IX: Understanding Wedding Photography

Exhibit X: 5Ps of 7Vachan’s Wedding Photography Vertical

Exhibit XI: Cost-Benefit Analysis of Using The Offline Channel

Exhibit XII: Digital Marketing Options for 7Vachan

Teaching Note Preview

Minnat Lalpuria’s 7Vachan: The Wedding Consultants’ Digital Marketing Dilemmas

 

Synopsis

This case study highlights the importance of digital marketing for online startups working on limited budgets. In the backdrop of metamorphosis of Indian wedding industry, the case study narrates Minnat Lalpuria’s entrepreneurial story. Further, it features 7Vachan, the Wedding Consultant’s and Wedding Services Aggregator’s growth story and analyzes its business model and the challenges thereof. Photography was one of the first services vertical to be launched on 7Vachan. How does 7Vachan’s photography vertical complement its business model? After the launch of its photography vertical, 7Vachan was faced with the dilemma of how to have 1 lakh photographers onboard. Can digital marketing help it bring its aspirational number of photographers on board?

Prerequisite Conceptual Understanding/Before the Classroom Discussion

  • • Matt Egol, et al., “How to Choose the Right Digital Marketing Model”, http://www.strategybusiness. com/article/00241?gko=20aae, January 27th 2014 – To get insights on four successful digital marketing models
  • • Aroon Kumar, “How to make digital marketing pay”, http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/catalyst/how-to-make-digital-marketing-pay/article7916219.ece, November 26th 2015 – To understand ROI for digital marketing
  • • David Edelman and Marc Singer, “The new consumer decision journey”, http://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/marketing-and-sales/our-insights/the-new-consumerdecision-journey, October 2015 – To understand how companies are using technology to design and optimize customer decisions journeys
  • • Tanishq Wedding Film (2013), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P76E6b7SQs8, October 24th 2013 – To get a glimpse of the changing landscape of Indian weddings
  • • Nagendra V. Chowdary, “INDIAN WEDDINGS MARKETPLACE: 7VACHAN’s MINNAT LALPURIA’S INTRODUCTION”, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HBxMCkCjFG4, April 27th 2016 – In this video, Minnat introduces herself and her venture, 7Vachan.com
  • • Nagendra V. Chowdary, “INDIAN WEDDINGS MARKETPLACE: 7VACHAN’s MINNAT LALPURIA ON HER EXPERIENTIAL ENTREPRENEURIAL JOURNEY”, https://
  • www.youtube.com/watch?v=_AbAaYbU-wI, April 27th 2016 – In this video, Minnat shares her experiences in 7Vachan’s growth story
  • • Nagendra V. Chowdary, “INDIAN WEDDINGS MARKETPLACE: MINNAT LALPURIA and 7VACHAN’s BUSINESS MODEL”, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LC1kCBPAk_0, April 27th 2016 – In this video, Minnat explains 7Vachan’s business models
  • • Nagendra V. Chowdary, “INDIAN WEDDINGS MARKETPLACE: 7VACHAN’s BUSINESS VERTICALS”, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tngHJxcI8A0, April 27th 2016 – In this video, Minnat lists 7Vachan’s business verticals

 

Case Positioning and Setting

This case study can be used for MBA program in either of the following:

Startups and Entrepreneurship Course: To understand the nuances of business and revenue model of a digital business
Digital Marketing Course/Module: To understand how various components of digital marketing – SEM, SMM, content marketing and display marketing – can be stitched together to offer a compelling marketing proposition to a digital startup.

Suggested Reading for the Faculty

• Mark W. Johnson, et al., “Reinventing Your Business Model”, Harvard Business Review, December 2008 – To understand the components of a successful business model and juxtapose the same with 7Vachan

Assignment Questions

I. What are the new business opportunities that have emerged with several paradigm shifts in the way Indian weddings have been performed over the last few years? Analyze the changing landscape of the Indian wedding industry.
II. Based on the information provided in the case study, analyze 7Vachan’s business model. Does the new business vertical – photography – complement and sustain its business model?
III................

Preamble to the Case Analysis

This case study helps understand the changing landscape of the Indian wedding industry and how the metamorphosis led to new business opportunities. 7Vachan, a wedding services consultant and aggregator, was an outcome of the emerging business opportunities from the changing Indian wedding industry. The case study helps understand 7Vachan’s business model, the challenges thereof and significance of its photography vertical. The classroom discussion can be organized around these discussion points [Exhibit (TN)-I]...................

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Abstract

This case study is an attempt to discuss the importance of a coherent digital marketing strategy for an online startup, 7Vachan.com (7Vachan). Minnat Lalpuria (Minnat), the Founder-CEO, conceptualized and launched 7Vachan, a wedding services consultant and aggregator in 2012. Driven by the mission of being the one-stop-shop for Indian weddings across the globe, 7Vachan offered a broad portfolio of services - venues, professional wedding services (such as photographers, makeup artists, decorators, etc.) and wedding products (such as wedding rings, gifts, invitation cards, etc.). Having launched its wedding photography services vertical towards the end of 2015, Minnat and her team faced the dilemma of how to bring the professional wedding photographers on board 7Vachan. After internal discussions, the team zeroed in on using the online channel, as against the offline channel, marketing 7Vachan as an online platform to the professional wedding photographers. What could be its digital marketing strategy? At the same time, Minnat also had a larger dilemma in mind - how to sustain customers’ and vendors’ trust in 7Vachan as an online wedding consultant and aggregator?



Pedagogical Objectives

  • To understand the changing landscape of Indian weddings and discuss the new business opportunities emanating from the same
  • To understand 7Vachan’s business model as an Indian wedding services’ aggregator, the challenges thereof and debate on the sustainable solutions for these challenges
  • To analyze 7Vachan’s growth challenges and debate whether the contemplated services, especially wedding photography aggregation, would complement and sustain its business model
  • To discuss and debate on the importance of digital marketing for a startup in general and for an online startup in particular

Case Positioning and Setting
This case study can be used for MBA Program in either of the following:

  • Startups and Entrepreneurship Course: To understand the nuances of business and revenue model of a digital business
  • Digital Marketing Course/Module: To understand how various components of digital marketing – SEM, SMM, content marketing and display marketing – can be stitched together to offer a compelling marketing proposition to a digital startup.



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