“Best value for money”, is how S Rajendran, Chief Marketing Officer, Acer India describes the brand’s positioning in India. This positioning helped the brand reach the top spot in the competitive Indian market space. However, the brand has lost its market share in recent times to HP and Lenovo.
Rajendran said that the brand did look at market share when the market was steady and there was certainty, but the language has changed in the brand’s quest to be relevant and has adopted a philosophy called ‘progressive design’, wherein all the designs of Acer products are progressive and resonate the changing dynamics in the consumer and technology space. Citing an example, he pointed out that the touch feature is being introduced even in entry level notebooks.
As far as regaining the top spot is concerned, Rajendran said, “In these uncertain times it is not about pure market share, but profitable growth. Three years back, when things were certain, we may have said that never mind the profit part and done things in one quarter in pursuit of retaining market share and caught up in the next quarter. This is not the orientation and rationale today.”
Acer is also looking to engage more with consumers, and is moving away from making claims of benefits and features to being more experience led. The brand has also invested in the last mile connect with touch. Rajendran shared that retail personnel have been trained to speak to the consumer not in terms of what is the latest processor and memory, but to understand the customers’ needs and allow them to experience the product.
He added, “That fundamentally is a major shift that we have made in our marketing strategy – to ensure that the promise of the product and the brand is exemplified in the last mile, moment of truth with the customer through many products.”
With the focus being on increasing customer engagement, Acer is betting on the digital space and is investing in on-ground activities. Looking ahead, the company believes that graphic and touch-based devices will find greater acceptance, while consumer demand will increase for thinner, lighter batteries with longer life. The company is also looking at strengthening its retail presence. “Our focus is not on entering more towns, but in driving depth in these towns. So, my footprint may increase, but my town presence may not increase,” said Rajendran, adding that India is the biggest market for in the APAC region and that the company is on track to achieve its target of $1 billion revenue by the end of 2014-15. Speaking on future growth areas, he said, “In terms of growth rates, while many speak of flat or negative growth for PCs and 12-13 per cent growth for notebooks, we should be closer to 20 per cent. With the consumer demand still low, our focus is on government, BFSI and even education to a certain extent.”
The initial years
When Acer entered India in 1999, the biggest challenge that the company faced was to re-orient the company’s mindset in India. This was because Acer in India had an enterprise/ commercial oriented legacy and the consumer segment was still small. This was in sharp contrast to Acer global DNA, where it was known to be a consumer focussed company. With the decision made to veer towards being a consumer oriented company, the company went about building its distribution with a unique engagement model in the retail space; tying up with channel partners to launch retail outlets (Acer mall, Acer Points and Acer Galleries) and increasing its geographical reach.
To fast-track growth and grab consumer eyeballs, the company roped in actor Hrithik Roshan as brand ambassador. Rajendran said that this helped Acer move into the top three consideration set from a brand point of view.