'The promise of great content & what a device can do has been a huge solace for consumers'

In a roundtable organized by e4m in association with Taboola, industry leaders discussed how the smartphone & telecom industry would shape up in 2021 as the world adjusts to & recovers from Covid-19

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Published: Feb 26, 2021 8:41 AM  | 5 min read

exchange4media, in association with Taboola, organised a virtual roundtable on ‘How the smartphone & telecom industry has adjusted its launch and performance strategy in the wake of Covid 19’.

The panel brought together industry thought leaders who discussed how the smartphone & telecom industry would shape up in 2021 as the world adjusts to and recovers from Covid-19 while facing new challenges on multiple fronts.

Speakers on this virtual panel included - Ruchira Jaitly, CMO-India, HMD Global(Nokia); Damyant Singh Khanoria, CMO, OPPO India; Shivam Ranjan, Head of Marketing, Motorola India; Avneesh Khosla, CMO, Vodafone Idea; Sandeep KS, Associate Director - Marketing, Redmi India; Dinesh Sharma, Business Head, Commercial PC and Smartphone, System Business Group, ASUS India; and Chanan Fogel - VP, APAC, Taboola. The session was moderated by Nawal Ahuja, Co-Founder, exchange4media.

Sharing her thoughts on how consumer preferences have evolved over the last 11 months, Ruchira Jaitly stated that consumers have come back to the core of what this category stands for.

“During this period, one thing that we could do was to be there for consumers. As Nokia, we believe that technology is a force for good. Consumers wanted digital-detox while wanting to stay connected.”

“Also, the promise of great content and what a device can do in this period has been a huge solace for consumers. It has been a complete transformation in terms of consumer wants and needs. We also observed that consumers want to hold on to their devices for longer given the economic downturn that we have seen. Most importantly, what we feel is that the consumer decision journey is going to be more complex from here on”, said Jaitly.

Sandeep KS of Redmi spoke about the big takeaways from the last 11 months for the brand. According to him, the past months have made smartphones all the more relevant as there was a need to stay connected.

“When it comes to marketing, we have been a very social and digital-first brand. Content marketing is something we actually thrive on. The single biggest quality of our content marketing is agility. In addition, we don’t take ourselves so seriously as to wait for months for our content marketing to be executed. Sometimes, we do content marketing on the fly, like a tweet which takes minutes”, explained KS.

Summing up the impact of covid on Telecom, Avneesh Khosla of VI accepted that it has been a huge roller-coaster ride.

“Overnight we had to capacitate our networks and what we now see is that consumption has galloped. Consumers are now spending 3.5 to 4 hours on their mobile devices, which means a better yield from our perspective.”

“From the consumption pattern standpoint, it’s no longer just entertainment and it is now moving to enrichment. From mass to curated experiences, it’s now about education, up-skilling, fitness and we are doing a lot of work to stay relevant and meaningful during this time”, he added.

Damyant Singh Khanoria of OPPO said that the industry shrunk for a large period, and for OPPO’s business, which is an offline dominant brand, it was a massive challenge to overcome.

“We had to overnight change the way we were selling devices and there was an outpouring of ingenuity in the way we dealt with our partners and with our consumers.”

Khanoria also spoke about some positives despite the gloom and doom that covid-19 brought to businesses.

“The pace at which consumers are upgrading their devices has moved significantly. Over time we will see the average selling price of the devices also moving up. One positive trend in covid is that people have started buying more capable devices. If we look at 2020 overall, OPPO grew in a declining market, I think consumer purchase sentiment is moving from hardware to meaningful innovation”, believes Khanoria.

When asked how Motorola tries to stand out in terms of its content marketing strategy, Shivam Ranjan, of Motorola said that the megapixel and megabyte story is not enough when it comes to connecting with smartphone consumers.

“We have to definitely move on from the hardware story if we have to differentiate.”

Dinesh Sharma of ASUS said that the brand has taken a differentiated positioning in the crowded smartphone market by focusing on areas that are not served by competition.

“One of the relevant areas in that way has been smartphone gaming. We have the brand ROG (Republic of Gaming) and we have flagship gaming-focused smartphones in the market. In this pandemic, gaming has grown phenomenally in India, and per many analysts; the growth rate has been in excess of 50 percent.”

“We have enabled console-like gaming experience on the smartphones and we are not focused on the camera story. We have broken the 40k and 50k price barrier in India, which very few brands despite massive investments have been able to do’, he further added.

Speaking about creating a differentiated content marketing strategy for VI, Avneesh Khosla attributed it to sophisticated listening tools and sentiment analytics tools which the brand heavily relies on to curate targeted messaging.

Explaining how brands can avoid making content marketing strategy a vanity project vs drawing ROI and how Taboola can help with effective creative strategy, Chanan Fogel of Taboola said the trick of the trade lies in being open to testing and open to experimentation and it is the data that can power that experimentation.

Speaking about creating a differentiated content marketing strategy, Damyant Singh Khanoria of OPPO underlined that the right strategy was less about getting consumers to watch and more about letting them create.

“I think content marketing is going to be passé and it will be more about empowering consumers and how we look at differentiated content marketing.”

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