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Child-friendly Printers

By Sohini Sen , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | September 17, 2014
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The printer category has shifted focus from the office goer to the school student. Why?

Picture this: a child walks away from the din and bustle of his house. He shakes his head at the noise his family creates, lamenting the absence of peace. Calmly walking up to the second floor, he executes a command on his tablet and the printer churns out his school project. The cherry on the cake? He wins an A+ grade in the school.

This is a campaign, not about how children are smart and savvy, but about new-age printers. If you look at any of the recent campaigns by the two prominent printer brands in the country - HP and Canon, the shift in positioning is remarkable. While earlier campaigns spoke directly to the buyer - the man of the household, in the present generation, the kids are the target audience.

Canon PIXMA's Super Student campaign in 2014

HP's 2012 A+ campaign which targeted the school student for the first time

HP's 'last minute' printer campaign from 2013

HP's wireless printer campaign in India released in 2014


"Our research showed that kids wake up to pending projects at the last minute when most shops are also closed. The convenience of printing from home is something we have focused on and helped the idea mature," explains Lloyd Mathias, marketing head, Hewlett-Packard India.

Hewlett-Packard was the thought leader in this category. The company, in 2012, worked around the insight that the child's educational need is the main reason to print at home. Their strategy was to communicate that HP now offers affordable printing options at home, so that the child can shine. The same thought was taken forward in 2013 where last minute printing was addressed by their campaign.

The most recent campaign looks at the ease of giving a print command from anywhere, looking at the increasing use of multiple devices in any house. The strategy seems to have worked as other brands are following suit. From a creative point of view, HP's 'Help your child shine' campaign won BBDO Singapore a Gold at the APPIES and a Best Presenter metal.

Panasonic's 2013 campaign 'Smile' which tried to make printing a less-daunting task

HP's 2010 laser jet campaign targeted the B2B and office goers, focusing on the value for money angle

HP's wireless printer campaign as seen in the overseas market. HP has been trying to position printers as something children can use across its key markets since 2011

HP's 2008 'Dream Big' campaign featured Shahrukh Khan and showed how HP provides many solutions


How it evolved

"Many students are nowadays going to IB schools with a set of working parents who are aspirational. In these families, even if the parents are not as tech savvy, the child has been born in a tech generation. At a store, therefore, even if he doesn't pay, he makes the decision about which next tech product should the family purchase. This smart, tech savvy, new age child is our target audience," explains Alok Bharadwaj, executive vice president, Canon India.

Lloyd-Mathias

Alok Bharadwaj

A decade or so back, the printer category was looked at as something official and used for printing documents. With a premium price range, it could be afforded only by corporates and offices. With the evolution of printing technology and decreasing prices of LaserJet printers, offices shifted their preferences. The comparatively higher priced InkJet printers were left for consumers at home. This was the first vital stage of the printer revolution.

At the beginning of the second stage, printers were still a category which came free with the desktop a family invested in. It was just an additional and peripheral accessory. When the price of InkJet printers started to fall, families began investing in it consciously. In the last 10 years, printer prices have nearly halved, making it affordable for many more homes. Canon's PIXMA range of printers are now priced between Rs 5,495 and Rs 9,480. The company enjoys a 23 per cent market share in the InkJet printer market which approximately stands at 12 lakh units.

"Earlier, printers were targeted at B2B and did not require a lot of campaigning. The small office or home office segment was approached much later. With the flexibility of time that a printer at home offers, the consumer printing market grew. From the company point of view also, there was a need to penetrate deeper to find an audience. Which is how and why brands started talking to families, and then to kids," says Harish Bijoor, CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults.

Kiran Khalap, founder, Chlorophyll, understands that in urban private schools, there is a shift in pedagogy or style of teaching from rote-learning to self-learning. This involves making reports, making a printer a necessity rather than a luxury at home. He further explained that with the number of schoolgoing children being higher than number of officegoing husbands, targeting school children means addressing a larger segment.

Harish Bijoor

Kiran Khalap

Rajnish Suneja

Titus Upputuru

"Buying decisions in offices are governed more by B2B style of decision-making (tenders, cost comparisons) and broadcast mass media is a wasteful expenditure in these scenarios. It's easier to target offices through narrowcast media (emails, or phone calls). So, the more you look at the facilitators of the category, the more sensible this shift in strategy appears."

Emotion or fact?

Today, the emphasis of campaigns for printers has shifted from the matter-of-fact (as done earlier by Panasonic and HP) to the emotional. While in earlier ads, features and price played the vital role, making for a functional ad, in all the recent examples, the child has either won an award and shown pride or has won gratitude from a pretty girl in form of a kiss.

HP's research showed them that the biggest group of home printer buyers were parents of school-going children, who were buying the printer for their child's school printing needs. However the overall home penetration percentage was very low. So the opportunity for HP was to grow the market by driving the need for a home printer with these parents.

"As we all know, Indian parents will go to any length for the educational excellence of their child. As long as the focus was to target the audience who was already looking to buy a printer, the ads were talking specs and price. But when HP shifted the focus to the broader audience who wasn't considering a printer-purchase yet, the discussion needed to move more upstream," elaborates Rajnish Suneja, group regional business director, BBDO Singapore. BBDO Singapore handles the HP printer account.

However, while striking the emotional chord, the price point has not been ignored. All the TVCs have a super towards the end which shows the price of the cartridge and the amount of pages one cartridge can print (480 pages for a HP printer cartridge costing Rs 475, or 400 pages for a Canon printer cartridge priced at Rs 460).

The HP campaign also looks at pointing out the wireless feature of its printer through the latest TVC. The first one to do so in the printing category, HP has kept prices competitive and leads the market with a 65 per cent share.

Canon has also caught on to the change and has targeted young decision makers. According to Canon's creative agency, the younger lot is tech savvy and influences their parents in many buying decisions. Says Titus Upputuru, creative director of Canon's ad agency, Dentsu Marcom, "Ultimately, it is about performance and not just about numbers. While the kiss serves as a pat on the back, the campaign also shows the 3D printing which can happen, thereby giving a glimpse of the tech possibilities. The line at the end of the campaign 'Canon, banaye tumhe super student' is a reiteration of the same sense of achievement."

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