Aishwarya Ramesh
Marketing

“We’re living in the golden age of television”: Jaskaran Singh Kapany, Xiaomi

A conversation with Xiaomi’s marketing head about smart TV consumption patterns in India during this festive season.

Indians typically make big-ticket purchases during the festive season. The leading brand in the market today is a new entrant on the block. Xiaomi smart TVs are becoming increasingly popular now.

During the first wave of the Diwali sale, eight out of the top 10 best-selling smart TVs listed on leading e-commerce platform Amazon were from the house of Redmi and Mi. Redmi Smart TV X (50 inches), Mi TV 4A (32 inches) and Mi TV 5X (43 inches) witnessed maximum consumer demand. Overall, the festive period is expected to end on a high note.

We caught up with Jaskaran Singh Kapany, CMO, Xiaomi India, to find out more about this festive season sale, and also understand the marketing and consumer insights.

Edited excerpts:

What are the most popular smart TV models this festive season?

Xiaomi is India’s Number 1 smart TV brand since Q2, 2018. We’re proud to have played a key role in driving smart TV adoption in India. Since our inception, we’ve sold over seven million devices in the country, with over a lakh being sold in just the first three days of the festive sale. We’ve seen a 53x jump in demand for 4K TVs during this festive season (versus pre-festive period).

What’s the most popular sale medium for the company for smart TVs? Offline or online? Can you give us an idea, in numbers, of the amount of units sold in each medium?

We’ve always maintained a balanced approach between the two channels. Offline, for us, is significantly large and has been steadily picking up. We’re also seeing a healthy online traction. Our own Mi.com platform continues to perform well.

Jaskaran Kapany
Jaskaran Kapany

Is this number more or less than last year? Do you see a recovery pattern?

Within the first three days of Mi sale, we sold over a lakh (each of) smart TVs and streaming devices, and registered a 53X jump in the 4K segment (versus pre-festive period).

We also observed consumers moving to bigger screen sizes, and expect this trend to continue in the near future. We’re confident of ending the festive period on a high note. It’s safe to say, we’re witnessing renewed consumer sentiment, which augurs well for the industry.

When it comes to big-ticket purchases, Indians prefer to touch and feel the product before buying it. How do you convince a user to make this purchase online in such a scenario?

While it’s true that offline plays an important role in allowing the customer to ‘experience’ the product in person, there’s an equally strong trend of the consumers who’re buying such products online. In fact, our research shows that the consumers go through 6-7 touch-points, including online reviews, comparisons, friend/family referrals, visits to offline stores, etc., before they buy the product.

"While it’s true that offline plays an important role in allowing the customer to ‘experience’ the product in person, there’s an equally strong trend of the consumers who’re buying such products online."

In addition, brand trust plays a very important role and eases the consumer decision towards online purchases. For our Xiaomi range of TVs, there are more than a million verified online reviews across trusted e-commerce platforms, immersive detailed online product videos, product reviews from trusted online reviewers, online demo videos, etc. All these have been instrumental in a healthy growth of online purchases. At an overall company level, we have a balanced approach to both the offline and online channels.

"We’re living in the golden age of television. Today, TV is about choice and, for most viewers, there are more choices than they can explore."

When it comes to smart TVs, what are some of the factors that the customers consider before making a purchase?

We’re living in the golden age of television. Today, TV is about choice and, for most viewers, there are more choices than they can explore.

While people still look for hardware specifications, the change in the patterns of content consumption on the back of digital penetration, exponential OTT growth, etc., have also given a new facet to consumer demand. With the changing viewing behaviour, the users are now looking for better software and content experience or platforms that offer easier content discovery, apart from good hardware specifications.

At Xiaomi, we’ve been working relentlessly towards amplifying user experience, with our in-house software, PatchWall. We’ve become one of the largest and most intuitive TV content hubs. We’re offering deep integration with 30-plus content partners, with a clear focus on making television viewing an enjoyable experience.

"The smart TV category has virtually exploded in India. From 15 per cent in 2018, it’s now at a whopping 80 per cent today."

Can you elaborate on your recent smart TV campaign?

The smart TV category has virtually exploded in India. From 15 per cent in 2018, it’s now at a whopping 80 per cent today. But while the category is called ‘smart’, it’s ironic that most brands say or do very little to demonstrate why they are ‘smart’. Most differentiation is done largely on the basis of ‘hardware’.

For us, this was the insight, i.e., How can you be ‘smart’ if you don’t demonstrate or show how ‘smart’ you are?

We wanted to not only educate the customer, but also ‘demonstrate’ how Xiaomi TVs are the ‘smartest’. The campaign takes this head-on and also showcases how they need to opt for the ‘smartest TV’, not just a ‘smart TV’.

We have showcased the power of PatchWall - our unique ‘software’ interface. It gives a variety of useful features to the consumers and eases their content discovery journey. PatchWall has been designed especially for India after taking feedback from thousands of consumers over the last few years. Today, it’s the foremost smart software experience in the market.

In addition to the six films across YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and presence on leading OTT platforms, there is also a large surround digital campaign. It will feature engaging statistics, social contests, other content-driven interventions, etc.

Can you talk about the brief given to the agency and what was the brainstorming process like?


The brief was simple:

  1. Show India who the ‘smartest’ TV really is, and why - Through this communication, we want to encourage the consumers to check if their so-called smart TV is really ‘smart’. And also show how PatchWall helps with its unparalleled host of software features.

  2. Be different in the ‘sea of sameness’ - We were also clear that the communication needs to be executed in a refreshing manner (from a format perspective), given the barrage of advertising during this period. It needs to be a multi-format campaign, not just one, to do justice to the sheer width of offering.

While brainstorming, we arrived at the current narrative, which highlights the ‘misses’ of other smart TVs.

What are some of the marketing challenges you’ve faced pertaining to smart TVs during this festive season?

It’s interesting to note that while the Diwali season accounts for 25-30 per cent of annual sales, the actual purchase decision journey for TVs begins 4-6 weeks before the actual purchase. So, the ‘timing’ of the campaign and its execution area very important. The latter because of the sheer volume of advertising during this period.

For us, these were the critical considerations. The challenge was magnified by the inertia that COVID brings with it and the operational issues of executing such a large multi-film campaign in such critical period for businesses.