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.
"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.
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.
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.
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."