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Shailendra Katyal

Director - Marketing | 12 Aug 2011

It is crucial for any technology product to be acknowledged as a brand that is relevant to the consumers. Further, to build a consumer brand it’s important to be relevant to the youth market. One key target we are reaching out to is the youth who are the people with the ‘DO’ mindset to achieve something. We are the first PC player in India to make this decisive move of focusing on the 18-24 age group… Increasing the brand appeal is a key focus area for Lenovo India in FY12. We aim to build a strong emotional appeal and get closer to our customers. Hence, we aim at further up the ante in marketing for greater brand awareness and preference.

Shailendra Katyal is responsible for leading the marketing function of Lenovo India for its three business segments – Relational (Enterprise), Consumer and SMB. He is based out of Lenovo India’s head office in Bangalore and comes with 12 years of industry experience, having worked in varied roles in Sales and Marketing in the FMCG space.

At Lenovo, Katyal’s primary mandate is to chart clear cut marketing strategies to significantly increase Lenovo’s brand preference and connect in the consumer and SOHO segments.

He is a versatile marketing professional with a proven track record in leading marketing campaigns of marquee consumer brands. He’s had successful stints in managing a turnaround, integrating an acquired brand, managing large equities and launching new products. Prior to joining Lenovo India, he was Category Head at Marico Ltd. He’s had successful stints in managing large brand franchises like Parachute and Saffola, integrating acquired brands like Nihar Naturals and handling challenger equities like Shanti and Hair & Care.

In conversation with exchange4media’s Tasneem Limbdiwala, Katyal speaks about Lenovo’s growth path, the new brand positioning of ‘For Those Who DO’, challenges of marketing to the youth and more…

Q. How has Lenovo’s growth been like in the last few years?

Lenovo acquired IBM’s PC division in 2005 with strong inclination towards integrating and building up one company, with common culture and goals. The focus then gradually shifted to building up a strong product portfolio, especially in the consumer space, and strengthening its market presence and share. At that time, there were separate product-specific campaigns highlighting the benefits of the ThinkPad and the ThinkCentre line and the IdeaPad and the IdeaCentre line. These campaigns included ‘Ultimate Business Tool’ for the Think line of business machines, and ‘Please Daddy Please’ for the Idea line of consumer machines.

Today, Lenovo has laid a strong foundation and we’re ready to communicate what Lenovo stands for globally. Our new brand positioning – ‘For Those Who DO’ – is based on the concept that Lenovo is a company that creates ‘Tools For Those Who DO’. With this positioning, we aim to unify our brand and product strategies and become a global power brand.

Q. Please elaborate on the various marketing initiatives that have been undertaken by Lenovo India?

Lenovo has always been acknowledged as a marketing savvy company in India. Our innovative product placements in ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati – 2’ as ‘Computerji’ and Bollywood movie ‘Corporate’ were the milestones in our marketing initiatives. In addition, Lenovo was the first PC brand to appoint celebrities – Saif Ali Khan and Soha Ali Khan – as brand ambassadors.

Last year, we introduced the ‘Please Daddy Please’ campaign, which was based on Lenovo’s strong success hypothesis “One fun thing your Dad will say yes to”. We initiated a nationwide campaign and explored all mediums of communications – television, print, outdoor and online with a unique execution idea for each of them, designed to leverage the full potential of each medium. We reinforced the core message across platforms, without restricting the execution to simply adapting the TVC – and most importantly, we made sure that we propagated FUN with each medium (print, electronic and online).

In May 2011, Lenovo initiated a new global brand positioning – unifying the brand philosophy across geographies. This new brand campaign is built upon the concept that Lenovo is the company that creates ‘Technology For Those Who DO’. Youth see technology as an integral part of themselves and their lives. For them, technology is a tool that helps them achieve something. They want to impact their world, make changes and our machines are the tools that help them achieve their goals.

Q. The company is aggressively promoting Lenovo’s new global brand positioning. Kindly share more details on the same and its India ramifications.

It is crucial for any technology product to be acknowledged as a brand that is relevant to the consumers. Further, to build a consumer brand it’s important to be relevant to the youth market. One key target we are reaching out to is the youth who are the people with the ‘DO’ mindset to achieve something. We are the first PC player in India to make this decisive move of focusing on the 18-24 age group.

Our products appeal to people who go out there and make things happen – the “DOers” of the world. These are the people with the DO mindset that take action, not dream. For them, technology is a tool, not a badge to some cool club.

We broke the campaign during the best possible time on TV – the Indian Premier League (IPL) and we have also secured spots on French Open and Formula One. IPL was the fastest reach build-up we could envisage. In a span of four days we tapped 40 per cent of our target audience, which is close to 10 million people.

Q. How has the year been so far? Please give us an overview of your operations in India.

We are growing at 2.5x the market for the last five quarters as per the IDC PC tracker reports. Our efforts and strategies have helped us gain and sustain a double digit market share (10 per cent IDC, Q1CY2011) in India. Our global ‘Protect and Attack’ strategy has worked well in India. With strong support from REL, we have been attacking the consumer and SMB markets in India.

Our key focus areas are to build a strong brand appeal, enhance our product portfolio and widen our retail presence. We aim to set up 1,000 retail stores – Lenovo Exclusive Stores (LES) and LES Lites – by March 2012 (we have 530 exclusive stores today) and are working hard to get closer to our customers by increasing our modes of interface.

Q. Who are your creative and media agencies? What are the media vehicles that you intend to use to send across your message to your target audience?

Creative Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi
Media Agency: Mindshare
Digital Marketing Agency: 22 Feet
Social Media Marketing Agency: 22 Feet
OOH Agency: Portland
BTL/ Activation Agency: Mindshare
PR Agency: Text100

We will be using all types of media, including TV, print, web, outdoor and cinema. Our ads communicate the essence of what personal technology should be and depict a mix of aspirational and realistic scenarios of how ordinary people do extraordinary things. The tone of our ads convey the ‘DO’ spirit of Lenovo, our products, and our audiences – optimistic, authentic, deliberate, into it, and understatedly cool.

Globally, we have worked with Saatchi & Saatchi for this new brand positioning and Mindshare has been our media agency.

Q. Please tell us about your foray into the digital medium and experiments with social media.

Lenovo has increased its focus on all the three elements of digital space – Paid, Owned and Earned. We have a new ’DO’ look for the Lenovo India website. The content has been created with attention to detail, so that it engages its target audience and calls for an action. We are increasing our presence on the ‘Paid’ domain via search engine optimisation and websites like Google and Yahoo. We have also roped in a boutique social media agency, 22Ft, to help us start conversation with our consumers – this is how we are tapping the earned segment of the social media domain.

Q. Is it difficult to create a loyal customer in the TG that you are seeking?

Lenovo has been instrumental in impacting the lives of its consumers through its DO machines and technology. Hence, creating and retaining loyalty with our target group is comparatively easier.

It has been our constant endeavour to introduce products and campaigns to target both first time buyers and Lenovo’s existing customers. Hence, strong innovative marketing efforts, along with a winning product portfolio help us drive loyalty among our target group.

Q. What do you think are the attributes that helped the brand click and connect in the market?

Trends indicate that youth comprise the primary decision makers in the purchase of a laptop. Lenovo is the first PC brand with a strong focus on youth in the 18-24 age group. This being an important realidation will help us focus our efforts precisely on our target group. The technology and functionality in our notebooks and desktops have been created keeping the youth in mind. We have introduced several innovative features in our products with multimedia focus, which strongly appeal to the youth.

Our ads communicate the essence of what personal technology should be and depict a mix of inspirational and realistic scenarios of how ordinary people do extraordinary things. Youth can connect with Lenovo’s ‘DO’ spirit and appreciate it when the power to ‘DO’ lies in their hands.

Some of the key attributes that we want our brand personality to convey includes: walk the walk, want it now, doing, make it better, commit, integrity, ambition, obsession, imagination, ingenuity, positivity, optimism and purpose.

Q. What are your marketing spends for the current financial year?

As an internal company policy, we cannot divulge the actual figures, but, we are among the top three spenders in the PC industry and we aim to maintain the same share of voice for marketing.

Increasing the brand appeal is a key focus area for Lenovo India in FY12. We aim to build a strong emotional appeal and get closer to our customers. Hence, we aim at further up the ante in marketing for greater brand awareness and preference.

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