Micromax is one of the few native brands that have managed to establish their image in a matter of few years. Micromax was not widely accepted by the audience initially,but now it is one of the highest selling mobile brands in India.
Micromax managed this with consistent brand communication, persistent messaging and fire in the belly, says Shubhodip Pal, CMO, Micromax. Talking to exchange4media, he shared how advertising has played a role in turning around the brand’s image and how are they planning to keep up the good work.
“We have this little dream of being the first Indian brand to go global. Many software companies have done that but no hardware company has done that yet. So we want to be the first one. That fire in the belly is there,” says Pal. Here are edited excerpts.
How much are you spending on digital of your total marketing spends?
Last year 4 per cent of our total spends was on digital, this year onwards, it will be atleast 12 per cent which will be a significant chunk of the total marketing spends. The reason is simple, earlier we were spending ina ratio of about 70:30, 70 per cent being online and 30 per cent being mobile but this year it’s going to be almost 60:40. What we are seeing is that mobile marketing is coming up in a big way; it’s a much better source of data. Online is restricted to the same audience over and over again and the penetration of online is a little slow as compared to mobile. Mobile caters to a very large base. Unfortunately we don’t still have a measurement body which gives ROI for mobile but as a marketer I believe that mobile will give me a higher ROI because of the fact that it is there with almost every consumer. If I have an interactive program with feedback from the user then I have reached out to that user.
In what ways are you trying to leverage mobile?
Digital medium in itself complements traditional media. I wouldn’t say television is competing with mobile but it is just complementing it. For instance if we are doing an IPL ad and along with it promote a short code on which people can SMS, when we receive the SMSs we know the ad is getting noticed and generate feedback. Going forward we will have lot of focus on mobile.
Do you feel a time has already come when digital is at the center of all campaigning?
Yes, all our campaigns in the last financial year have been centered on digital. In fact some campaigns were launched on digital prior to television and went on to create a lot of buzz.
Is e-commerce a big part of your strategy?
It’s a great channel to be in. There are various people who do their basic research in the shops but love to buy the product online simply because of the ease of it.Online will be a much bigger source of revenue in the times to come.
How much have advertisements helped to change the whole brand image from a domestic phone maker to the now youthful brand?
More than one could believe. Since consistency in brand tonality and brand communication is one of our strengths. What has complemented it is the great product portfolio that we have. Earlier, the problem was the people didn’t believe in product roadmap, last year what worked in ourfavor was the fact that we had the right product portfolio. We launched close to three to four phones every month but you could see only two or sometimes just one depending on what the priority for us was. We are close to 43 brands in total but somehow we convinced the management that we can’t talk and advertise every brand if consistency has to be maintained. So we segregated our brands into four to five major sub brands. There was a lot of consistency in brand communication and visual merchandising. Everything blended together and resulted in the change in brand image. It was an amalgamation of using the right medium in the right way.
After Micromax’s success, lot of local brands have mushroomed, do you perceive them as competition?
I would not say they are not a challenge or competition. You cannot sit back and say that we have done a good job and now it will be a smooth road from here. That is a wrong attitude. You have to respect competition because if you think now no one can touch me that will be the biggest misconception. There are 134 recognized brands in our category so each one has its own strength. We have consistently gained market share and are the number two smartphone manufacturer but we don’t let that make us slack because you never know there is some other brand out there that does something very different and takes our market share away.
What other geographies are you looking at for expansion?
We are still evaluating our expansion plans. After Russia we are looking at Eastern Bloc. We don’t want to expand unnecessarily.
Are your phones more affordable or other phones unnecessarily expensive?
I am not sure about other phones but our phones are definitely affordable. We truly believe that while phones are made in factories, great brands are made in consumers’ heads. The first thing that a youngster will do after getting a phone is to check its specifications in the ‘About Phone’ section and they realize that when everything is same why is my phone less expensive than yours. I did have this huge task at the beginning where people thought Micromax to be a cheap brand, but today in exactly 16 months the same set of people tell us we are premium, classy, affordable and international.
Do you also want to reach out to audience that is beyond the metros?
We are already strong in tierthree&four cities because of our feature phones. We sell close to a million and a half feature phones every month. We made strong inroads there.
ROI is a big debate in digital. What is your take? Is there a gap in what marketers are expecting and what is possible?
Its difficult for me to comment on other marketers but if you have basic common sense you will know that digital does give its ROI and not just expect numbers and figures. For me it’s more of a gut feeling and what I feel is important. Once I launch a campaign and if I get my consumers interacting on digital and have made several people notice it, my ROI is taken care of. It’s not fair to expect absolute ROI from digital as of now.