He is dealing with one of the most powerful brands in the country, a brand that is born out of holy matrimony! Murugavel Janakiraman, founder of Matrimony.com takes us through the company’s multi-pronged brand architecture
A survey on the U.S. dating services suggested that 40 per cent of people prefer dating services, which are niche or exclusive to their community. Murugavel Janakiraman, founder and CEO, Matrimony.com Pvt. Ltd., also endorses this preference. And this made him set up an exclusive domain for communities called communitymatrimony.com in 2008. “We realised that marriages happen within each community and decided to enter this segment,” he states. Matrimony.com did not own many community sites and, over a period of time, bought domains by spending a couple of crores. Today, Janakiraman has created competition for the parent website, BharatMatrimony, by operating over 300 matrimony sites under Communitymatrimony.com.
From a single match making business, today, the company has divided its services into both horizontal and vertical segments. It offers online matchmaking, personalised match making and premium matchmaking under the horizontal segmentation and communitymatrimony.com ensures a spread across various verticals like region and caste. Janakiraman states that, “I was advised not to have so many matrimony sites – one of the reasons being high cost of promotion. But, I was convinced that it was the right thing to do.” While India is a single country, its people are connected via its various regional languages. Subsequently, over 300 matrimony sites were launched under the brand called community matrimony, which was later on promoted as a separate venture. While, today it is positioned as a competition to BharatMatrimony, the subscription ultimately comes to the parent company. “Sometimes we get subscription from both the sites. While TamilMatrimony is the best choice for a Tamilian, people also want an alternative,” says Janakiraman.
“ Segmentation has been an interesting experience but a costly one in that. To promote various brands involves marketing and commitment but overall, it has worked very well for us. ”
Starting from scratch
However, growing his company from zero to two million users has not been an easy journey for Janakiraman. “Earlier we used to hardly get any profiles. So, we grew it one by one,” he recalls. He gives credit to the dotcom boom as well. The company tied up with big portals like Rediff, Microsoft, MSN and Sify as their matrimony channel partner. Initially, marketing campaigns were primarily done online. The company also published success stories of marriage. Subsequently, it got into mass media marketing. Today, the ecosystem has changed; television is the best form of brand building for Matrimony.com and it also involves itself in below the line marketing. While, currently, it has multiple services under a single parent, the company has ensured that its branding and communication remains consistent across verticals.
Learning from a mistake
The company launched a retail venture in 2006. It was not successful because it made the mistake of running a brand called BharatMatrimony across India, whereas the pull of its regional brands was much stronger. This apart, it had 100 outlets across India, which in comparison to the length and breadth of the country was a thin spread. The marketing cost did not justify the ROI either. Accordingly, Matrimony.com decided to segment its business regionally and took advantage of the local media in promoting its services, which is a much more effective marketing tool. It closed all the franchisee outlets and re-launched the retail services in Tamil Nadu, under the brand name TamilMatrimony. After building sufficient presence in the state with 25 company-owned outlets integrated online, it expanded into other states like Andhra Pradesh (TeluguMatrimony), Kerala (KeralaMatrimony), West Bengal, Orissa, Maharashtra and so on.
Unlike in other businesses, Janakiraman’s customer was not lifelong, for, once he / she got married, there was no coming back a second time! To help the company capitalise on the growing marriage market, the company entered the marriage services business. Its matrimony directory is a leading wedding classified portal with over 50,000 service providers across India (such as photographers, marriage halls, entertainment and so on) with close to 50+ categories. It also entered the return gifts business (both online and offline) through Tambulya. Today, it has over 2,000 gift ranges at its three stores in Chennai.
“Segmentation has been an interesting experience but a costly one in that. To promote various brands involves marketing and commitment,” states Janakiraman. He agrees that there are a lot of technology and branding challenges. But, he prefers to overcome these challenges and be a strong specialist with multiple offerings instead of a strong generalist.
Founder: Murugavel Janakiraman
Murugavel Janakiraman and Matrimony.com have come a long way in the matrimony business. From being just a matchmaking business, today, the company has divided its services into horizontal and vertical segments. It offers online matchmaking, personalised matchmaking and premium matchmaking under the horizontal segmentation and Communitymatrimony.com ensures a spread across region and caste. To help the company grow and capitalise on the marriage market, the company entered the marriage services business and return gifts business.