Sunit Roy

"Bagging IPL title sponsorship was our first step towards growth in this market": Vivek Zhang, CMO, Vivo India

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has announced its association with Vivo as the title sponsor for the Indian Premier League (IPL) for the next five years, for which the smartphone brand bid a whopping Rs.2,199 crore - 554 per cent more than the amount in the previous contract.

For the upcoming five seasons of the IPL (2018-2022), Vivo will explore branding opportunities across sports events, on-ground activations and marketing campaigns.

On the occasion, we bring you a quick interview with Vivek Zhang, CMO, Vivo India, the full and original version of which was first published in our Marketers' Special Issue (afaqs!Reporter magazine, June 15, 2017).

Edited Excerpts

Associations with big properties has formed a big part of Vivo's brand story in this market...

Zhang: Vivo's journey (in India) has been thrilling. Bagging the title sponsorship for IPL 2016 and 2017 was our first step towards growth in this market; the association helped us connect with people across geographies. Another significant development was our association with Ranveer Singh as brand ambassador.

We are present in cities across 22 states, through 10,000 retailers and 400 service centres. We are looking forward to making some major business announcements in the months ahead.

"Bagging IPL title sponsorship was our first step towards growth in this market": Vivek Zhang, CMO, Vivo India

Ranveer Singh in Vivo ad
Click here to enlarge

The Indian smartphone market has grown exponentially in the recent past and set to grow more. Consumers' knowledge of feature requirements has grown and keen attention is paid to the updated technology that every new launch brings. The smartphone is the 'cater-all assistant' to the millennial. This makes the demand both technical and lifestyle-specific.

Moreover, latest trends, like selfies, mobile photography and gaming, will play a significant role in growing the smartphone (segment) in India even more.

The last 12 months have been extremely active and fruitful for the (Indian) smartphone industry. Emphasis on features that turn the phone into a high-quality camera has turned the market around.

Tell us about your TG. Where will your next, say, million consumers come from?

Zhang: Youngsters are trendsetters. Our brand strategy focuses on them. Our marketing strategy is in line with factors like market needs, purchasing power, geographical boundaries of the market and demography.

Our aim has been to increase our overall brand awareness and brand recall by establishing a bond with the youth of India. Our utmost priority has been striking the right balance across distribution, brand identity, brand value, and the price-features equation.

Vivo's association with the FIFA World Cup next year will be a significant step towards putting the brand on a global pedestal. We will strengthen our relationship with our audience through the right associations and partnerships.

India, being an emerging market, has a huge untapped customer base. Currently, less than half the population uses smartphones. The adoption rate is growing very fast. As consumers continue to demand more from their smartphones, we expect to see a significant portion of the existing smartphone user base shift to new technology. Reaching out to this untapped customer base makes (my) role challenging.

What is your lead medium of communication today?

Zhang: We have adopted a 360-degree marketing approach, comprising associations with different properties, including FIFA, Pro Kabaddi League, IIFA and SIIMA. We are not limiting ourselves to any single genre, but will be visible across sports, news and entertainment genres. We also advertise in print. On the on-ground medium we have a lot of activities lined up, including outdoor and in-shop advertising.

Marketers today deal with way too many external brand custodians. Comment.

Zhang: With multiple campaigns being executed simultaneously, it becomes important to work with numerous external brand custodians. We look forward to associating with more brand custodians, if need be.