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Viral Oza

Director – Marketing | 17 Oct 2013

Don’t forget who the consumer is – what drives consumers as humans is shared values and interests, which in the offline space manifests as friends, communities, clubs, teams. This manifests differently in the online space, but the core reason or the driver is the same. Digital is not a one-way communication like television, but a two-way conversation, so you have to be extremely authentic and honest, else it could lead to a dissatisfied consumer.

Viral Oza, Director – Marketing, has been with Nokia since August 2008 and is responsible for building the Nokia brand and driving marketing initiatives across consumer touchpoints for the mobile handset maker in India. An MBA from Narsee Monjee Institute, Oza has over 17 years of experience with Unilever in India and overseas in Asia, his last assignment being Category Director, Skin Care for Africa, Middle East and Turkey. Oza was associated with Unilever’s Deodorant business for many years, where he was heading the marketing for Axe Deodorant across Asia. Prior to that, during his stint in HUL, his successes include the launch and establishment of Axe in India. He has also had invaluable experience in implementation of the regional marketing structure in Asia and Africa-Middle East.

In conversation with Simran Sabherwal, Oza speaks about building healthy social conversations, Nokia’s digital campaign strategy and more...

Q. What is the fundamental strategy and objective of your digital campaigns?

There is a certain philosophy that we have towards this space which guides everything we do. One big guiding pillar is that it is not online versus offline, consumers live their lives seamlessly across the two. Therefore, the brand has to treat the spaces accordingly, and the consumer engagement journey that we craft for them has to be seamless as well. Secondly, digital is a whole world onto itself, where consumers are present for various reasons, therefore, unlike offline, where a brand says, ‘this is who I am and this is how I will go out into the world’, in digital, one has to say what are the target audiences doing, what are their interests and how can I make myself relevant to them in that interest area and then engage with them. It is a different way of looking at what you do in the online space and yet at the same time make sure that it is harmonious with the entire offline 360 degree. Those are the kinds of filters that we keep in mind and look at as we go along.

Q. What, according to you, are the key things that a brand should keep in mind to build a healthy social conversation?

Don’t forget who the consumer is – what drives consumers as humans is shared values and interests, which in the offline space manifests as friends, communities, clubs, teams. This manifests differently in the online space, but the core reason or the driver is the same. Digital is not a one-way communication like television, but a two-way conversation, so you have to be extremely authentic and honest, else it could lead to a dissatisfied consumer, and that’s the last thing that a brand wants. Consumers in the online space have their own points of view and bound to give comments – negative and positive, and you have to be confident and secure enough to take that, otherwise you can’t engage with them.

Q. What does Nokia do on the ORM front?

It is a little different for a brand such as Nokia because we are a single brand company, but I don’t think we are doing anything different from any other brand in the online space. We monitor conversations, ensure we engage with the right people and make sure that the right information is out there, so that whoever comments and has a view, they are doing it on the right information. We track the polarity of the conversation and make sure that we give the right responses when needed.

Q. What are the trends that you are seeing in consumer purchase decisions?

There will probably be an acceleration of what we have already seen in terms of accessibility to technology going up. Technology commoditisation linked with consumer aspiration will lead to the growth of smart phones. Consumers will then be demanding more services and experiences, leading to brands being even more challenged on how to differentiate themselves. This circle has already started, but it is probably going to continue at a faster pace.

Q. What are the cross-learnings that you have implemented in India from Nokia International and vice-versa?

We share our ideas in forums where people pick and choose what could work for them. There have been engagement ideas and activatons that we have done in India, which have been taken to other markets and applied there because it is relevant to them. Similarly, when we launch global campaigns, the learning is fed back to make it relevant for India, so in that sense both give and take that happens.

Q. Could you tell us about a successful digital campaign and also a campaign that did not achieve the objectives, and your learnings from it?

At Nokia, we have constantly tried new things. When we launched the Nokia Lumia 501, our campaign was around the ‘top trendifiers’. The insight behind this campaign was that consumers like to share stuff as they want to be associated with trends. So, we launched the Trendifier campaign, linking it with the high level of social integration with the device. We did things such as changing the share button to a ‘trendify’ button across various sites. This ensured that we are part of our consumers’ lives in areas that are important to them and engaging with them in their passion areas.

The other campaign is when the X7 device was launched, the whole proposition was on gaming. We got a fantastic idea about the on-ground activation, Nokia X7 Full Throttle Gaming Tournament – an on-ground gaming contest, and this part of the campaign was a big success. However, I think it could have been much better if we had got the idea earlier and the whole campaign could have exploded around that part, rather than it being an on-ground idea which worked very well. The learning for me, therefore, was probably the need to think through much harder and much sharper earlier on, so that you don’t miss opportunities where something happens at a touchpoint which is very successful and you later say, I wish I could translate that across touchpoints – that’s one big learning for me.

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