“We have not done a good job in India over the past two years. Now we will be back with a vengeance with a specific plan for the Indian market,” thus said Edward Zanders, CEO, Motorola, during his visit to India last year.
Once at the pinnacle of the tech revolution, later plumbing new depths in a deeper morass, Motorola worked a near miracle in 12 months flat. Mr Zanders has reasons to relax.
Analysts feel that Motorola's turnaround can be primarily attributed to the timing of the launch of the ultra slim MotoRazr, a product that had no rival in India as far as the design goes. “It is the brand that lends the identity to the product, but in the case of the Razr in India, the handset's success rubbed off on the company,” says an industry executive.
Riding on the Razr's success, the company took the first step towards tackling India. The country was marked out as India (the English-speaking, urban, middle class/rich) and Bharat (vernacular-speaking, rural, hinterland). It then created the BharatMoto sub-brand with the objective of positioning Motorola as a 'local company' with a brown complexion.
With the brand strategy in place, innovation became the key for the mobile manufacturer. Taking the distribution battle to its rivals, Motorola forged alliances with DCM Shriram Consolidated's Haryali Kisaan Bazaar and ITC's e-Choupal for the retail sales of its mass market and high-end handsets.
This followed with the tie-up with Bharti Teletech, where Motorola handsets were to be displayed in all the former's 12,000 retail outlets. Says Sudhir Agarwal, director (sales of mobile devices for India, Nepal and Sri Lanka): “Motorola was on its way to acquiring business width (geographical spread) but also business depth (geographical penetration), for the first time in the country.
Instead of being seen as one-offs and therefore lost in time and space, our initiatives will be seen in continuity of each. This will sustain visibility, recall and grant greater permanence.” For metros and the larger cities, there was a plan B, where it tied up with GE's consumer finance arm for credit to individual customers for purchasing handsets priced upwards of Rs 6,000.
“The consumer finance model for handsets, besides being unique, serves our agenda of tapping into a huge swath of potential urban customers for higher-end models who will opt for our phones. This is an aware audience, which cannot graduate to higher end phones due to issues of affordability,” says Lloyd Mathias, director (marketing), mobile devices (India).
Meanwhile, on the handset front, Motorola ensured that India was among its key focus areas. The global premiere of its slim handsets SLVR L6 and L7 were held here with new brand ambassador Bollywood heartthrob Abhishek Bachchan taking the lead. Besides, its emphasis on the “aam admi” was endorsed by none other than Telecom and IT Minister Dayanidhi Maran, who unveiled the company's 'Made in India' handset “the C 115” which has been billed as a common man's mobile at Rs 1,700.
Completing its India connection, the company last month announced plans to open its first factory in the country in Chennai in Tamil Nadu, which will manufacture both handsets and network base stations. This is in addition to the six researches and development centres that it runs here.
That's just the beginning if you believe the company mavens. “We are not satisfied. The market has seen acceleration and we want to continue the acceleration until we achieve velocity. Going forward, we are looking at “exceleration”, which means executing in an accelerated way,” says Firdose Vandrevala, head, (Motorola India) and Corporate V-P, Motorola.