Social messaging in our campaigns is more of a byproduct :Sashi Shankar

Sashi Shankar, CMO, Idea Cellular talks about Idea’s marketing mix, the big 'Idea' behind their campaigns and how it differentiates the brand

e4m by Devansh Sharma
Updated: May 7, 2014 7:52 AM
Social messaging in our campaigns is more of a byproduct :Sashi Shankar

Idea Cellular, a popular telecom service provider which also happens to be India’s third largest telecom brand arguably, has resumed with its 3G intra-circle facility across 10 states.  Idea is popular for social messages in its marketing campaigns. In a conversation with exchange4media,  Sashi Shankar, Chief Marketing Officer, Idea cellular speaks about the new development and the marketing mix of Idea.

The telecom sector has begun to show signs of a turnaround. What do you attribute this to?
Telecom sector has had challenges in the past. I think a lot of policies are becoming clear and we can look forward to much better policy framework so that we can continue to invest and grow.

What is intra-circle roaming and how is it expected to boost the 3G business?
Intra-circle roaming is one which we had with both Airtel and Vodafone till April last year. The latest court verdict has allowed us to use intra-circle roaming which means in non-3G markets,we will be using Airtel and Vodafone’s network and increase our 3G consumer base.

Idea has been permitted to use 3G in as many as 10 states now. Do you see a major consumer preference towards 3G?
The bigger problem is that the ecosystem needs to develop. Preference is there but the mobile handset market should come up with affordable 3G compatible handsets. Prices still need to come down. More and more handsets at a lower price will help in increasing the 3G subscriber base. The key challenge before the handset market is up-gradation from 2G to 3G. The tariff rates are already low in terms of data.

Since 4G has been introduced in certain states, what are the prospects of 4G in India?
There is still time for 4G as a technology to become impactful in India. It will take time. The smartphone market still has a scope to grow. Presently, the 3G market has not developed properly due to the lack of compatible handsets so 4G market is far cry. Every month I think three to four million smartphones are sold presently, though the number has doubled in the recent past but there is still a huge scope. As this market develops there will be huge scope for service providers to increase their internet consumer base.

Market is very competitive. How is Idea planning to ramp its marketing initiatives to tackle the competition? Social Messaging has always been the backbone of your campaigns. How well has this worked for your brand?
Primarily you have to give consumers something differentiated; the best product, service or experiences which make a difference in their life. The social messaging element in the campaign has evolved more as a byproduct. Social messaging was not the intent. The intent was to differentiate ourselves and to present ourselves as the big Idea. It has definitely helped Idea to stand apart from the rest. The whole ‘Idea’ behind our campaigns is to be ‘distinguished’.

What is the marketing mix of Idea Cellular?
We look forward to using television, digital and radio for our campaigns. Usage of print as a marketing tool is minimal. Television consumes our major spends. Digital has been growing and will continue to grow. We are in a mass market we already have a consumer base of more than 130 million consumers. We have to reach the maximum number of consumers in a short span of time and television gives us that reach. Radio is another medium that we use very extensively after television.

Today we have launched ‘Idea Delhi Daredevil Fan Page’ a first of its kind mobile website, which will allow the users to get closer to the team and download content or access it on pay per use. Compared to television the amount of money allocated to digital will be less but in terms of percentage and significance it will continue to rise.

Idea unveiled a new handset in the last month and previously also it has come up with mobile phones. Do you have any plans to become more active in this category?
This is what our intention was when we launched the first model and we will continue to do that. Presently we have a lineup of five models in the market priced around Rs 2,500 to Rs 5,000 and we will be coming up with more.

How has your partnership with Delhi Daredevils helped the brand?
In the Delhi market it has undoubtedly lifted up the brand. We have been associated with the Delhi Daredevils team since last four years and during IPL, we run a campaign which significantly builds on Idea’s association with Delhi Daredevils.

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