New 'Spice' girl

By , agencyfaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising
Last updated : November 02, 2007
The company has planned an ad spend of Rs 30-35 crore for this fiscal


Mobile Phones, a part of M Corp Global, is pulling up its sleeves. With the success of the much talked about dual phone launched by the company and also moving towards national presence, tables have turned. In an exclusive chat with agencyfaqs!, Payal Gaba, national marketing head, Spice Mobile Phones, unveils the past, present and future of the brand.

To begin with, Katrina Kaif has been roped in as the new ambassador for the Spice Group, which includes Spice Telecom, Spice Mobile Phones, Spice BPO's and other ventures of the group. The model cum actress, will be seen endorsing the group's products beginning next year. Priyanka Chopra has been the brand ambassador of the brand since its launch, and the first TVC with her was launched in 2006. Spice's contract with Chopra ends in December this year.

Payal Gaba
Talking about Kaif's association, Gaba says, "Kaif is on board, but we still haven't leveraged her in our communication; she will take on as a new face for the brand only next year with the new launches. As per the contract, she can endorse all the company's products, but we do not plan to do so. Chopra has contributed immensely in terms of attracting the mass towards the product, as she has been a popular face amongst the masses. But for the dual phone we did not utilise her, as after a point of time, it is necessary for a brand to stand independent of a brand ambassador. In the case of Kaif too, it cannot be a force-fit, we will definitely use her as a face, but in a limited manner.

JWT has been handling Spice since it took birth. But now that it has won the Nokia account, what happens to the brand? Gaba says,"JWT has come back to us with a Plan-B, a proposal which will be more of an exclusive set-up for the brand, and it is in the process of evaluation.Though, we will definitely explore other options, if required, there is still some time till when JWT starts work on Nokia. So until beginning 2008, JWT will be with us." OMS continues as its media agency.

Priyanka Chopra
The company launched its operations in June 2005. It was a phased launch - commencing with the North, moved to the East, South and finally, the West. Being pan India now, it is present across the country. It took the company approximately one and a half years to reach the entire nation. The distribution was taken up in a reverse manner, wherein it began with the small towns and moved gradually to big towns. "With the positioning, 'Style international, dil phir bhi Indian', the brand has been an aspirational one, and we wanted it to appeal to the masses. We were highly inclined towards providing the maximum value to a consumer, which obviously didn't mean that we would only offer a cheap phone - other brands too, have phones in the low-price range. That only meant that we drive towards providing additional relevant innovation value to it, be it in any form," says Gaba.

Stressing on innovation, Gaba continues, "The first phone by Spice, S-500, offered pre-embedded singtones in the phone, in various regional languages, which was not available in any other handset at that time. However, competition, now, has caught up with the trend, though all phones, do not have the facility. In 2005, too, we were the first to introduce the speaker-phone facility on our lower range of phones, which was a first in the category. We introduced our lower-end phones first. Our promise to the consumer has always been that of a focus on 'innovation', which we continue to stand for."

The major differentiation that the brand has to itself, is that of relevant innovation, emphasises Gaba. "An example of that is the Spice Dual - a phone which enables the usage of a CDMA and GSM network at one time - which comes in at a an appropriate time, considering the fast and 'dual' lives people lead. The product was launched in August, this year, and has done well as an individual brand, as well in terms of bringing a raise in the company's sales to the extent that today the product contributes to 15-20 per cent of the entire sales of the company," she reveals.

With its primary focus being the SEC B1, B2 and C categories, and with the dual phone now in its basket, Spice is also considering to target the SEC A and B. "Even as we gradually increase our foothold amongst the higher income groups, we haven't lost focus of our core target audience- the middle and low income groups," Gaba clarifies.

The advertising for the brand started off in the regional areas in 2005, and the brand took off with an estimate ad spend of Rs 10 crore, which constituted mainly print and outdoor. Out of the entire pie - 70 per cent accounted for above-the-line activities and the rest was allocated to below-the line activities. Marching towards the bigger towns and a national presence, the company is now looking at advertising in the mainline mediums- the leading dailies, as well as television. An ad spend of Rs 30-35 crore has been allocated for the fiscal 2006-07. Out of this, 40 per cent accounts for print, 30 per cent for television, and the rest 30 per cent for below-the-line activities. Of the total share for this year, the communication for the dual phone has already taken up Rs 8 crore, says Gaba.

The month on month growth of the company is around 10 per cent. Till date, the company has sold 1.6 million handsets. Since the last four-five months, the company has witnessed a spurt in sales, where it has been selling 1.5 lakh additional handsets each month. The reasons that have lead to the same, Gaba says, is the launch of the dual phone and the level of involvement that the company has been having with the telecom operators such as Spice Telecom, Airtel, Hutch and Idea. This has given the company the benefit of brand association with the operators, and has also helped us reach an increased number of consumers, as the retail presence of telecom operators is higher that that of handset providers, adds Gaba.

A company-conducted research says that Spice as a brand is becoming gradually acceptable in the market, but till today Nokia holds 75-76 per cent of the market share, and it is slightly tough to break the brand presence and strength of the latter. However, the dual phone has given a stature and seriousness to the brand, along with a timely innovation. "In states such as Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, Spice clearly stands at number two, after Nokia. It holds the third position, after Nokia and Motorola in Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka," reveals Gaba.

The TVC for the dual phone began in September and was on air till mid-October. The next TVC by the brand for some of its new products would be seen in January next year (for a mass model) and then around May-June 2008 for a DVD phone, a first ever in the world.

At the end of two years, the brand has more than 42 distributors and 150 service centres across the country, and the product portfolio has expanded from simply two products, to 18 phones, today. Every quarter, the company introduces four models, at least, reveals Gaba.

First Published : November 02, 2007
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