Star News presented the ‘Impact’ round table on ‘Mobile Handsets Marketing’ on October 28, 2010. The question at hand was, whether mobile manufacturing companies are meeting the requirements of India’s large and fragmented mass base or not. Pradyuman Maheshwari, Group Chief Editor, exchange4media Group, began the discussion by pointing out that even as the “growth of Indian mobile players is there for us to see, yet there is so much more that one can do in the market.”
NK Goyal, President of CMAI and Founding Member of TEMA, said, “India has done itself proud by producing great quality handsets at very low and affordable prices. It is a great achievement that we have been able to reach villages and rural area with our product in such a short time.”
Gaurav Sharma, Ernst and Young, said “Mobile handsets will enable the proliferation of technology. With the advent of 3G, the medium will only become stronger. Today, mobile penetration is immense as the market is spreading deeper into the rural pockets. Besides the penetration aspect, mobile phone is also one of the most converged medium one can think of.” He went on to point out that the spends of Indian consumers on mobile and mobile communication has gone up significantly whereas other mediums like radio and television has not seen such growth.
Speaking on the necessity of mobile handsets, Hemant Arora, Managing Consultant, PwC, said, “The utilities of mobile are immense. So much so, that the mobile has become our third hand.” Giving the example of Blackberry, he said that at the beginning their strategy was to aim at a particular target audience. However, with time one has to change and add value to the product through innovation.
According to Sandeep Lakhina, COO, Starcom Worldwide, “The proliferation of mobile industry has happened because the number of users have gone up exponentially. Today, mobile is not only a communication device but also an entertainment device. Its utility surpasses merely communication... There is a huge market for mobile handsets, and the industry will only grow. The differentiating factor in who remains at the top of pack will be innovation and insight.”
Neeraj Saran, VP Marketing, MCCS, said, “I don’t completely agree with the term ‘Indian manufacturer’, as it should rather be India super-marketer’. One who is able to take big media risks successfully will be the winner.” Lakhina interjected this view and said “It is not only about taking media risks. One has to maintain a high level of innovation and engagement with the customers.”
When asked if it is a choice between value proposition and price point, Goyal said, “It is a game of marketing. But a good marketing scheme without value addition and service will not work. The concept of manufacturing has changed, as products are designed, manufactured and sold from different locations today.” He went on to discuss contract manufacturing and its efficacy. Goyal also said that today, mobile in the rural areas is a tool of empowerment and manufacturers like Lava has made it happen.
Sunil Raina, Product Marketing Head, Lava International, said, “We always wanted to add value to our product which would be our differentiator. So we came up with the dual sim and then bigger batteries. Bigger battery concept was a huge hit in the rural areas which are marred with power cuts. At times, price does not matter, convenience does. Having said that, price is no doubt a very important factor. He went to say, “Indian players are attaining critical mass, which will help for the times to come.” When questioned about spend ratio of service and marketing, Raina said, “Customer service is very important to us. We are building a strong servicing infrastructure so that we are able to carry our services far and further.”
Speaking further about services, Vinayak Kumar Lal, Head Marketing, Intex Technology, said, “Experience of the product is essential. What is at contention is not only the experience of usage of mobile phones. Here we are talking about pre-purchase and post-purchase experience of mobile handsets. Consumers change handsets every 9 months, so it is the experience that a handset provides which decides whether or not the consumer sticks with the same brand.”
Rajeev Jindal, GM Sales, Josh Mobiles, too agreed with the view that logistics and services are very important. “This is how mobile and FMCG market is different,” he continued, “Mobile phones, unlike FMCG products, service the customers even after a long time after they are sold.” It is the service that a mobile brand provides that helps retain or lose a potential customer he concluded.