Richa Vij

Bluetooth marketing: It’s time to catch the signal

Mobile marketing offers a number of options, one of which is Bluetooth marketing. But are Indian brands interested?

Though India has a 200 million strong mobile customer base, marketers are still grappling with mobile marketing and its various forms such as SMS ads, mobile Internet banners and games. Making things tougher is permission marketing, which is compelling marketers to evaluate their mobile marketing options even more carefully. One such option is Bluetooth marketing, or Bluecast, a technology by which messages can be sent out wirelessly to mobile handsets which are in close proximity.

Bluecasts allow brands to connect with their target audience based on a certain location. Branded content like games, songs or videos created around the brand can be pushed by the marketers through Bluetooth for download at no cost. Brands can also conduct contests via Bluetooth by giving mobile coupons (m-coupons) in return.

Rajiv Hiranandani, country head, Mobile2win, believes that Bluetooth marketing can be a brand’s immediate link to sales. He says, “It’s a great interactive contest tool and a very good tool to induce walk-ins and immediate sales.”

Bluetooth communication could also prove to be an exciting tool to interact with a potential customer who might be shopping, walking in a mall or waiting for a traffic light to turn green.

Bluetooth branding

Lee created buzz about Bluetooth marketing when it launched a campaign in the malls of Bangalore and Mumbai in 2006. The Super Fit campaign distributed a FitFinder application through Bluetooth to help customers find the perfect fitting jeans. The Bluetooth campaign had a PoP (point of purchase) message that offered an m-coupon with a discount of 10 per cent if a customer answered some queries about the brand.

Bluetooth marketing: It’s time to catch the signal
Rajiv Hiranandani
Bluetooth marketing: It’s time to catch the signal
Lloyd Mathias
Bluetooth marketing: It’s time to catch the signal
Raj Singh
Bluetooth marketing: It’s time to catch the signal
Vinod Thadani
The campaign was created by the agency, Maxus Interaction. Biraja Swain, business director, Maxus Interaction, says, “We reached around 18,200 people in 15 days after the launch of the campaign in both the cities.”

Vipul Mathur, marketing head, Lee, says, “ We plan to offer the song track used in the latest Lee TVC for download via Bluetooth in Lee outlets in these cities by the end of this month. We will also offer an m-coupon to customers so that we can track the rate of response better.”

When Motorola launched a Bluetooth campaign for its handset MotoRokr in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore in 2007, a message was sent to the mobile handsets that had their Bluetooth switched on, offering a look at the new handset and a 20 per cent discount on its purchase. “Every day, we had 40-50 walk-ins at Motorola outlets in each mall,” says Lloyd Mathias, director, Motorola.

More recently, Indigo Nation launched a game based Bluetooth campaign in select Indigo Nation outlets in Bangalore. The four level game can be downloaded via Bluetooth and offers discounts as rewards as players clear each level. Kanwalpreet Walia, marketing manager, Indigo Nation, says, “Today, everything is about experience. If you give your customers something that is content-rich and exciting, then Bluetooth marketing gives you a great connect.”

Walia says Indigo Nation has so far received redemptions of about 2 per cent from people who have downloaded the game. The bluetooth marketing campaign for Indigo Nation is created by Starcom IP, the digital division of Starcom Mediavest Group, while it is executed by Mobile2win. The campaign will be continued for another month and a half in Bangalore and then expanded to other cities as well.

What’s holding it back?

Though the promise of Bluetooth marketing is high, it doesn’t seem to have taken off among Indian advertisers. The reluctance to experiment with the medium could be due to lack of knowledge about the technology among advertisers, the low penetration of Bluetooth enabled handsets and their use, and the fear of receiving messages from unwanted sources among customers.

Saurabh Vartikar, head, mobile marketing, Mauj Mobile, says, “(Bluetooth marketing) is still in a nascent stage in the country largely due to technology dependency, since this medium caters only to Bluetooth enabled handsets. Another key reason for the slow growth of this mechanism is the lack of awareness regarding these tools amongst marketers and the public at large.”

Hiranandani agrees that Bluetooth marketing is yet to catch the fancy of Indian marketers. “Only two out of the 10 brands which have worked with us in the past five-six weeks have taken the route of marketing via Bluetooth.” The reason, he believes, is lack of awareness on the part of the brands. “Most of the brands we have spoken to don’t know about Bluetooth advertising,” he says.

Raj Singh, co-founder and executive director, India, ActiveMedia Technology, says 5 per cent of the brands working with his mobile solutions firm, are using Bluetooth marketing. “It’s early days and the technology is also a little complex for brands,” he says.

Vinod Thadani, business director of Group M Interaction, says, “10-12 clients from among the 80-100 digitally active clients we have use our Bluetooth marketing solutions.” Group M Interaction has done Bluetooth campaigns for clients such as HSBC Premier, Lays and Disney. Maxus Interactions, a part of Group M, has done Bluetooth marketing for brands such as Pepsi, Accenture and Lee.

Observing the number of brands trying out Bluetooth marketing, it seems that there are advertisers willing to experiment. The onus now lies on the agencies to educate them about this underutilised and cost-effective mode of marketing.

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