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Manu Seth

Country Manager – Marketing | 17 Apr 2012

While we are present on all media vehicles, ad campaigns strongly depend on each product. For instance, Explorer was launched across all media platforms but when we launched HTC Sensation we used print, specific outdoor areas such as airport and live device experiences at retail outlets. So a lot of advertising depends on the product and its audience.

Manu Seth has more than 15 years of experience working with leading telecom manufacturers such as BlackBerry-Research in Motion, Tata Indicom and Idea Cellular. He has also worked with Times of India and Tata Infomedia.

In his earlier assignments, he has worked with a focus on marketing, marketing communications, brand management, media planning and budgeting, strategic marketing alliances, and promotions.

Seth is a science graduate from Delhi University and has completed his masters in business management from Amity Business School, Noida. He also has a diploma in export management from Institute of Management Technology and diploma in sales and marketing from National Institute of Sales.

Here are excerpts from Rahul Dubey's conversation with him:

Q. Unlike smartphones such as BlackBerry and Apple, HTC India has a simple yet different brand positioning. What is the idea of ‘People’s Phone’? What is your USP?

All our focus and orientation is towards the consumer. We believe that the devices can really work the way consumers want them to work. HTC is about the most personalised experiences.

The platform that we use is Google, which is an Android OS. We also have our own patent technology which acts as the operating system on some of our devices. These are the main features that differentiate our products from our competitors, who are also on the Android platform. We also do a lot of innovations in hardware. Offering the best touch screen experience is our priority. Innovations in hardware allow consumers to personalise devices.

Industry surveys reveal that the generation that is going to buy smartphones looks for a few key elements. E-mail has become the backbone of these elements. The next big thing is entertainment. To offer entertainment, we have come up with the ‘Beats’ technology that predominantly plays authentic sound.

We are also working on camera quality. The idea is to offer services that are best for personal consumption. Our philosophy has been to make ourselves the ‘People’s Phone’. All our innovations and R&D are based on this philosophy.

Q. BlackBerry started as an enterprise phone whereas Apple’s iPhone had a cool quotient. Where do you see HTC’s position in the smartphone market?

We do not position ourselves as an enterprise phone. We would like to be positioned as a smartphone that provides a personalised experience. We have a diverse product portfolio with devices in the price range of Rs 9,500 to Rs 40,000. This is oriented towards a very open-ended target audience, which can go from a 20 year-old to a 35 year-old. From the TG perspective, youth as well as the business class is important to us.

Q. Being a new entrant, 2011 was largely a year of brand-building for HTC. What is your marketing strategy in 2012?

This year has already started on a very positive note. As per a Nielsen report, within a short span, we are among the top 20 brands on social media. We had a three-digit number of Facebook fans which increased to six-digit in a short span. We would like to take it ahead. There will be many announcements this year.

In terms of our marketing strategy, we want to offer consumers the most personalised experience. This year, we will specially focus on the stylish community within our TG. We are trying to identify and target them. There are devices in our portfolio that serve the needs of this specialised TG.

Q. What is your media mix?

We have a balanced media mix for our products. We have close to 1000 promoters equipped with HTC devices to offer consumers a first-hand experience. Below-the-line activities are very crucial in our strategy and it is only going to grow.

In above-the-line activities, there is a mix of vehicles such as print, outdoor, television and digital media. We are also very focused on outdoor advertising. Through outdoor advertising, we first targeted the top ten cities of India last year and we will now target more cities this year. Print and television is essential to reach out to the masses as it offers brand awareness, brand recall and connectivity.

While we are present on all vehicles, ad campaigns strongly depend on each product. For instance, Explorer was launched across all media platforms but when we launched HTC Sensation we used print, specific outdoor areas such as airport and live device experiences at retail outlets. So a lot of advertising depends on the product and its audience.

Q. What is the current share of HTC in the smartphone market segment? How do you plan to increase this share?

While we cannot reveal our market share, our aim is to acquire a good share in the smartphone market. When people think of buying smartphones, we would want them to consider HTC. To be in the consideration basket, we have to improve the brand’s ownership in the times to come.

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