Brands need to stay relevant by reinventing themselves: Sunita Bangard

We live in a world of sameness, and brands not only have to keep up, but also stay relevant and open to the ever changing consumer, says the President - Marketing, Idea Cellular

e4m by Saloni Dutta
Updated: Mar 25, 2014 9:35 AM
Brands need to stay relevant by reinventing themselves: Sunita Bangard

Reinventing a brand is the mantra for growth and is highly recommended to stay relevant to the consumers, remarked Sunita Bangard, President - Marketing, Idea Cellular. She shared a quote, which sums up the philosophy at Idea Cellular and has helped keep in its growth, which states, ‘We live in a surplus society, a society that has a surplus of similar companies, employing similar people with a similar educational background coming up with similar ideas, producing similar products with similar prices and similar quality.’

We live in a world of sameness, and brands not only have to keep up, but also stay relevant and open to the ever changing consumer. Hence, brands must reinvent to stay relevant.

Sharing more on Brand Idea today, Bangard said, “We are a young, 12-year old brand, and in this short period we have a turnover of $4.4 billion. Competing with some of the brands that we have grown up with, it is no mean task that we have accomplished. Idea has also been a favourite at many award functions.” She also quoted some statistics about Idea, “One in every six calls is on the Idea network. At 130 million, we are the seventh largest globally in terms of subscriber base; while we may be No. 3 in revenue market share, we call ourselves one of the top three brands because we are growing at three times that of the rest of the industry.”

The story of Idea is that it runs on an idea. It is about innovation and vitality. Idea started operations with two service circles in 1997 with the intent to expand through either acquisition or through core physical expansion. The company expanded to eight circles in 2005. By 2011, it had a pan-India presence and in 2013, it got licenses for 3G across 12 circles. Bangard identified three milestone periods during Idea’s lifetime that helped the company grow in the marketplace and in the consumer mindspace.

Phase 1 – 2002-05
This was the phase when Idea was born and growing. “As written by our MD, Idea is a concept, thought and notion, with a potential to bring about a powerful change. It is about simple thoughts that have the power to enhance your life, it is about services unheard off and things not dreamt off yet,” said Bangard. She added, “It was not only the name and philosophy of the company that we launched at that time, some of the products were also way ahead of their time. We had a women’s card, games on mobile, dialer tone, quite a few which today seem like a no brainer, but at that time we were the ones to have launched them.”

Phase 2 – 2006-11
Describing the next phase of Idea’s brand story, Bangard explained, “Idea realised that it is not just about having launched a brand and moved from two circles to eight circles, but what next, so the first change then came in 2006-11. At that time, the five existing players and three new players decided to go for a pan-India existence. It was getting into a hyper competitive situation and the game plan for everyone was to go for the urban. Mobile penetration in urban areas was at 139 per cent and 42 per cent in rural areas. Idea decided to go for Bharat. And today, with 800 million subscribers, the category stands at 60 per cent urban and 40 per cent rural, but for Idea, 55 per cent of our subscriber base is from the Tier II, III and rural areas.”

Idea also decided to have a point of view. “It is not about what people buy these days, it is about what they buy into and we have a relevant point of view that it can change your life. With the promise that we would demonstrate the power of mobile epiphany that made a huge difference to people’s lives, we chose to actually elevate our communication to the consumers that would try and take on issues that were bothering people and offer solutions which were not yet there, but can be dreamt off,” added Bangard. And from this point of view, iconic TVCs were launched, whether it was a number being your identity, democracy, health situations getting controlled by ‘walk when you talk’ and education for all. These all come under the umbrella of the What an Idea Sirji campaign, which has been there for five years now.

It is not just about the ads and work that Idea did in marketing, but was the strategy really successful and the proof lies in the numbers, they were No. 5 in 2008 and by the end of 2011 they were the third largest brand in the category breaking away the clutter, remarked Bangard.

Phase 3 – 2012-14
Elaborating on the next phase of Idea, Bangard said, “We decided in 2012 that we need to pause and introspect and say what is the next big thing that we need to do. We also realised that consumers are fast moving and we need to keep pace with them if we need to stay aspirational to them. We needed to be relevant to this new Bharat, which was fast changing and also we knew that if we do more of the same, expecting different results would be very difficult.” Idea came up with new advertising like Hunny Bunny, telephone exchange, etc., through deep consumer insight. “We went back to on-ground engagement and relaunched Idea Rocks India with 16 shows across the country and an average of 35,000-40,000 people attending each of these shows” she added.

Going digital
Idea reinvented itself in 2012 by taking the digital approach head on, Bangard said, adding, “While we continue to believe and invest in Bharat, the new Bharat is what we want to be relevant to and, therefore, digital is one of the areas where we decided to play an active role. It is not going to be one of the elements in our engagement plan, it is going to be the way we engage with them, through this medium, empowering them because the medium as such is so empowering.” Idea moved from a very ad-hoc, tactical approach for digital to a 24x7 digital approach for the internet user across all three pillars, the website, the network and the social media. They recently unveiled a new website. Idea has 5.8 million fans on Facebook and has launched two destination sites, which are Idea Popcorn site and Idea Music Lounge, which is a place where people can go for a lot more than just content.

What next?
We are living in exponential times. Four billion videos are seen everyday, 60 hours of video content is uploaded every minute, Google searches are at 90 billion, which stood at 2.7 billion in 2006, and what took 38 years for radio and 13 years for TV, Facebook did in just two years by reaching out to 50 million people. Consumers are looking at themselves as much bigger paradigm shift, they are not about just being somebody, they want to be known for what they are doing. Bangard remarked that it is not about communicating anymore, it is about conversations. It is absolutely important for us as marketers to know how to manage these conversations and if possible change the conversations for the brand.

Sunita Bangard was speaking at the Pitch CMO Summit 2014 that was held on March 24 in Mumbai, The session was chaired by Malcolm Mistry, CEO, DNA. Pitch CMO Summit 2014 was powered by Colors. 

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