It is said that marriages are made in heaven, but in today’s wired world, they are increasingly being made via the cyber space. However, marriages still need to be solemnised on earth, especially in India, where the entire extended family is involved in the process. It is this ground reality that matrimonial websites in India have realised and have lately taken to shifting their focus towards various offline initiatives and also begun targeting the smaller towns.
As a result, they are devising newer methods to reach the new category of non-Internet using market. Whether this shift in focus has happened due to a fall in paid subscribers of matrimonial websites following the recession or the sudden growing potential of the huge mass of customers in smaller Indian towns is yet to be judged statistically.
Some of the factors that could, however, be taken into consideration include the fact that there has been a growing number of Internet users across the country; the small town markets dominated by local marriage bureaus are yet to be tapped by the matrimonial portals; and there has been a significant fall in the NRI customer base of these sites. So, what followed has been a range of new initiatives by most of the marriage portals in the lines of matrimony magazines, matrimony meets, marriage centres, reality TV shows, Internet TV and so on.
Some time back, Bharatmatrimony.com, a matrimonial portal from the Consim Group, launched Actve Matrimony on TataSky. Actve Matrimony features 1,000 new matrimonial listings every week and classified according to multiple languages and communities. With this service, the Group claims to have increased its user base in addition to its existing base of members. Bharatmatrimony has also launched an Internet channel that features videos for audiences across the globe.
Murugavel Janakiraman, Founder & CEO, Consim Info Pvt Ltd, said, “We would like our services to reach consumers who are also not so net savvy. The products remain the same, but services offered will depend on the consumers’ comfort level. So, it’s a matter of extending the services to use our product better. We want to offer a variety of services to people to make it more user-friendly and easily accessible to all.”
Through its offline centres, Bharatmatrimony caters to the non-Internet users. Its magazine, ‘BharatMatrimonyTimes’, features success stories, interviews with celebrities and various aspects of marriages, including trends, relationships, and the wedding industry itself.
Said Murugavel, “We do grassroot marketing to reach consumers in the smaller towns and help them experience our services.”
Recently, Shaadi.com and Star Plus forged a partnership for a show, combining reality and entertainment. The show traces the journey of participants’ right from their initial meeting, selection, discussion and drama, culminating in an Indian wedding, showcasing a slice of Indian family life. The show is open to all eligible Indian residents.
According to Vibhas Mehta, Business Head, Shaadi.com, “Matrimonials through reality TV is one great concept that Indian television lacked. With our expertise in the domain, being one of India’s most trusted matrimonial sites, a dedicated team at Shaadi.com will screen each registration before entries are passed on to Star Plus.”
Coming to the question of whether the matrimonial sites would be able to harness the local regional markets, we have seen a lot many sites coming out in the regional languages. Commenting on this growing localisation and regional language sites in India, Murugavel said, “We see it as an important investment for the future. As the Internet penetration into semi-urban and rural markets goes up, localisation will gain momentum.”