Tamil Nadu: At this store, buy a smartphone, get 1 kg onion free

Janardhan Koushik
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STR mobiles in Tamil Nadu has come up with a unique offer where the customers get 1 kg of onions at free of cost if they buy a smartphone.

A mobile shop in Tamil Nadu has come up with a unique marketing strategy to boost the sale of smartphones and is gifting away the most valuable item in the current situation – onions.

At a time when the entire country is reeling under exorbitant onion prices, the kitchen staple has touched Rs 200 a kg in some parts of Tamil Nadu, STR mobiles in Thanjavur district is offering customers a kg of onion for free if they buy a smartphone.

Saravana Kumar (35), who runs the shop in Thalaiyari Street in Pattukotai, said the strategy had paid off and earned him lots of customers in the past few days.

“Generally mobile shops tend to give charger or earphones as an offer during the festive season. I tried something out of the box and it worked. Since the beginning of November, people have been struggling because of the unimaginable price of onions," Kumar said.

Kumar said the idea dawned on him when he realised that hotels and restaurants in surrounding areas stopped serving dishes with onions.

"Many of them I knew even stopped eating non-veg because it cannot be cooked without onions. The hotels in our surrounding areas stopped serving side dishes with onions. That’s when I realized I need to come up with something. I even gave the customers an option to choose between small and big onions,” he said.

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The outrageous demand for onions had been the topic of discussion for the past month across the country.

Kumar, a diploma holder, started his shop in 2011. He said he had been flooded with inquiries since his unique advertisement.

“My family and my friends appreciated me for trying something new. Lawyers, police officers and other government officers congratulated me for creating a buzz in the town. I even received an appreciation call from ‘Neeya Naana’ Gopinath (popular Tamil TV anchor), I never thought I would receive this kind of attention,” he said.

Saravanan said when onion prices would dip, he would come up with another set of ideas to attract customers at a time when brick and mortar mobile stores are losing out the battle to online retailers.

A kg of onion, that was selling at Rs 60 at the beginning of November, touched Rs 120 towards the end of the month. Since the beginning of December, the price of the kitchen staple has hit the roof, touching Rs 160 per kg in the wholesale market and Rs 220 in some of the retail outlets in Chennai.

The sky-high prices of onions have generated hilarious memes, cartoons and jokes on social media. In Tamil Nadu, a couple even received a bouquet of onions as a gift at their wedding.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palanisamy on Sunday said onion prices would come down in 15-20 days. “Due to heavy rainfall in the neighbouring states, the farmers got affected. The price rise was a result of lesser yield, this will be solved," he said.