While the Indian ad world was busy squabbling over ad awards, one of the country's biggest advertiser, the Rs 6,300-crore consumer electronics & durable major Samsung Electronics India, quietly effected a major change in its communication strategy for FY07.
In a move to keep up its avowed 20% plus growth momentum, Samsung has decided to spend half of its Rs 285 crore advertising budget on below-the-line (BTL) communications, an industry euphemism for consumer promotions, on-ground events, road shows et al.
“For consumers to experience our technology products and associate the brand with new cutting edge tech, we have to reach out to them. For us the marketing focus now is BTL,” says Ravinder Zutshi, deputy managing director, Samsung India.
Though no one at Samsung India, a marketer justifiably proud of its globally acknowledged cool, consumer-friendly technology & design brand imagery, will tell you as much, it is clear that in the Rs 20,000-crore Indian consumer durable & electronics industry the easy pickings are over, and marketers have to engineer a new way to entice consumers, big brand imagery notwithstanding.
Not so much as diffuse focus from its bread-and-butter retail sales, but to pick up the gauntlet of chasing the new consumers' lifestyle and shopping habits to build a more differentiated & sustainable brand pull, something that mass-media advertising can only mirror in its message, not actually connect with on the ground.
Samsung is perhaps picking up early cues from the market on advertising-led brand salience being no longer enough to translate into sales.
The company has embarked on an ambitious 135 city 'Samsung Dream Home Workshop', literally showcasing its products where the consumers cannot miss it: shopping malls, multiplexes, community centres, even BPOs for digital lifestyle products such as its just launched MP3 players, digi cameras and camcorders etc. What's best, the company its putting its money, Rs 142-crore, to walk its BTL-chasing consumer talk.
The company is launching an all out affront on the high-end and the digital market. It has earmarked $ 20-m to upgrade its plants to make more of new age TFT monitors and LCD display televisions. And its giving more of what Indian consumers desire, sound-led TV models with 600-1,200 watt 21-inch and 29-inch colour TVs with large woofers.
“The digital market may be small today, but with 35 % plus growth year-on-year, they're clearly big products for our future growth,” adds Mr Zutshi. Advertising air-cover apart, BTL is clearly Samsung's new mantra for creating brand engaged customers.
Samsung's in-house advertising agency, Cheil Communications is leading the endeavour with help from BTL specialists Shark Design and Cityneon.“Our idea is to showcase products for the consumer to touch, feel and experience and we're passing all sales leads from the 'Dream Home Workshops' to our dealers,” adds Mr Zutshi.