Can brand Micromax stage a successful comeback?
Industry watchers note that if the brand can compete better on strategy, price and features this time, it could emerge victorious with its comeback
Amidst the wave of anti-China sentiments and boycott of Chinese smartphones, home-grown smartphone brand Micromax made a rather noteworthy comeback. With a quirky social media campaign, the brand has generated a lot of chatter but there has actually been a lot riding on Micromax’s comeback in India.
The company’s new series — In — is targeted at Indian consumers looking for a value-for-money, performance-rich smartphone. The recent campaign by the brand is unlike its first stint wherein the brand had focused on product specifications and promoted features over nationalism. As Micromax gears up for its second stint, we asked industry watchers if the brand should be able to stage a successful comeback at a time like this and what it should work on, this time around, in order to reign over the hearts of consumers.
Samit Sinha, Managing Partner, Alchemist Brand Consulting believes that if Micromax is able to better compete on price and features this time, it may still enjoy enough residual brand equity that they can build upon to make a comeback.
“It is not going to be a cakewalk, but yes, I think Micromax does have a fair chance of making a comeback in the Indian market, if – and that is a big if – they are able to launch the right products and even more importantly, match (or better) the Chinese brands in pricing. The reason for Micromax’s failure after their initial success more than 10 years ago had less to do with issues with regard to their brand image, but getting crushed by the Chinese onslaught of feature-loaded phones at lower prices. Nokia, which had monopolised the market for years, also suffered a similar fate, compounded by their rather inexplicable decision to embrace Windows over Android,” Sinha noted.
Micromax recently launched a marketing campaign with the tag-line Cheeni Kum — an obvious allusion to the competition. Moreover, the company had earlier said in a statement that Micromax plans to invest Rs 500 crore and will build products from ground-up for the new-age consumers in the country to begin the re-entry into the smartphone segment.
Harish Bijoor, Brand-strategy expert & Founder, Harish Bijoor Consults pointed out that if the company invests right in strategy, it could definitely make a successful comeback.
“Micromax can for sure aim a comeback. It is however important for the brand to stop doing what every brand does and thinks does best. It's not about advertising big. It's not about all those tactical sales and marketing plays the brand was used to in the past. This is 2020 and the times have changed. This is an era when strategy wins over everything else. Remember, strategy is the dog here, and advertising is the tail. The dog must wag the tail in this re-entry, and not the other way round,” Bijoor said.
Jagdeep Kapoor, Chairman and Managing Director, Samsika has a similar take. Any brand can make a comeback with the relevant brand strategy. It has to keep in mind the new competition and the changing needs of consumers,” Kapoor said.
Micromax, which was at its peak in 2014, decided to exit the smartphone space because it couldn't compete on pricing front with Chinese handset brands that flooded the market with affordable handsets backed by fat marketing budgets.
N Chandramouli, CEO, TRA noted that the mobile phone segment is over-cluttered and highly competitive at a time when Micromax is launching its comeback and hence it is the product that will be the deciding factor.
“It is certainly not an easy task without the low-cost, highly adaptable manufacturing ability that the China ecosystem provides. While the launch of their new phone IN, has been done with a new approach, aimed at encashing on the anti-China sentiment, it is the product that will speak. It has been shown time-and-again that to make a strong first-mark the specs have to be superlative to pull customers to a new or comeback brand. Micromax has the advantages of having a residual brand trust and many families have experience with the brand, which will help initial access, but buying will only be done on the basis of quality and features. The Indian consumer is only focused on their current needs in a phone and the anti-China sentiment is not a lasting or deciding flavour,” he explained. It should be noted that the brand’s return comes on the heels of the PLI approvals sanctioned by the Government of India, moving a step closer to realising the vision of Atmanirbhar Bharat.
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