The evolution of effective marketing has been in sync with the evolving consumer. Several factors such as enhanced technology, increased market access through multiple retail platforms, and the brand explosion across categories have brought marketing a long way from traditional methodologies. In 2014, there were many new factors to be considered by various audiences by virtue of brands putting the power of choice in the hands of consumers.
A consistent effort needed to be directed towards engaging with customers, wherever they wish to access the brand.
Expanding beyond the metropolis
The adoption of brands and the concept of brand loyalty has moved beyond city limits. 2014 has seen a plethora of customers emerging from Tier 2 to Tier 5 markets. This has been the result of brands focusing their energies on expanding presence and accessibility in response to the growing consumer demand in these segments. The more a brand becomes widely available, the more exposure customers are likely to have to the brand. This visibility and accessibility has resulted in growing aspirations. A fitting example of growth these consumer bases is the demand we noticed for a niche product - gaming devices – in Tier 2 and Tier 3 markets this year, bringing to light that there is indeed a customer base for high end products which not only exists but is also gaining prominence. This phenomenon is not restricted to the PC market alone – it has been noticed across categories.Consumers are noticing the value addition offered by each brand, and brand consciousness has penetrated into markets like never before.Departing from this, our aim as a company is to go beyond the most accessible markets, and to be present in Tiers 4 and 5, making Dell omnipresent in the Indian market.
Mobile is driving consumer traffic
An effective way to judge the following or loyalty of customers towards a brand is to gauge how much they are being looked at online. The sudden burst of internet into the consumer’s daily life has made it the go-to source for every piece of information they seek. It was noticed that a majority of online search hits for us came from Tier 2 & 3 towns and what’s more – they originate from mobile phones. The increasing penetration of mobile connectivity, specifically through smartphones has enhanced access to brands. The combination of data and smart devices is increasingly engaging users, and encouraging them to access their data on the move. Thus, following the consumer, brands are investing more and more in this segment in order to be visible and reachable to a target audience which holds immense potential for brand penetration. For a technology solutions provider specifically, this fits perfectly with the target audience – those who exhibit technological aspirations and the desire to keep in step with tools which can enhance everyday life.
The advent of the omni-channel
The Indian consumer has discovered the wonder of omni-channel purchase. This is nothing but the tendency of the Indian shopper to hop on to multiple retail formats, even if single items are being purchased. With the swift adoption of e-commerce as a standard purchase platform, customers have been seen to be on multiple platforms at once. They may choose to touch and feel their technology device in an exclusive store, whilst looking up competing prices on the internet and walking into large format retail outlets to witness an appropriate product comparison. In this scenario, marketing efforts are inclined towards offering a unique brand engagement experience, in order to provide ‘The Better Experience’, as opposed to simply offering ‘The Better Product’. Our Back to School, Back to College and Festive Campaign campaigns are an example of such product experiences. In all our campaigns, the Dell Inspiron and AIO devices were accompanied with seasonal offerings as well as a deeper engagement with customers both online and in stores in a manner was specifically designed it’s targeted audience. The idea is to complement the device with a brand engagement which is target group appropriate.
Social becomes more engaging
The most effective way to communicate with a brand’s audience is to engage in a two way conversation. Dell has espoused this philosophy for a long time now. This year has seen an even deeper level of engagement with audiences. Brands have begun to craft marketing strategies with an embedded social media/digital media strategy, in order to have a holistic approach. Brands have taken digital engagement to the next level. Not only were campaigns an interface between social networking and the actual brand interface; but brands have made it a point to reach out to customers on a one-to-one basis. The key is to listen keenly to our customers, in order to gauge their consumption habits and needs, and respond to let them know that whatever they say does not go unheard.
Ritu Gupta is Director, Marketing, Consumer & Small Business, Dell India.