"For every hundred rupees we spend on traditional media, we are now spending 30-35 on digital": Shubhajit Sen, CMO, Micromax

By Ashee Sharma , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Digital
Published : October 16, 2015
Micromax Informatics has rolled out a multi-media campaign aimed at fuelling the transition from feature phones to smartphones. True to the brand's tradition, the television-led campaign uses popular celebrities to drive home the point.

Micromax Informatics has put together a palpable deal for customers to facilitate an upgrade from feature phones to a smartphones this festive season. The brand has brought on board stand-up comedian Kapil Sharma (for North) and Baahubali actor Rana Daggubati (for South) to promote its new Bolt range of entry-level smartphones, designed specifically for the 'value conscious, yet aspirational' Indian.

The television-heavy campaign, executed by Lowe Lintas Delhi, includes a set of three films, each shot with Sharma and Daggubati. The ads feature the brand ambassadors in double roles, for the first time, wherein the smartphone guy is seen convincing the feature phone guy for an upgrade. Each ad is scripted to highlight a particular proposition using tongue-in-cheek humour. The 360-degree campaign will also run across print, digital, outdoor and point-of-sale.

The Prospects

A survey done by The Mobile Indian, had as early as 2012, predicted the 'end of feature phones'. The Handset Hotlist survey (May 2012), brought out by TMI suggested that there was a growing interest in smartphones and 21 out of 25 handsets that made it to the list fell in this category.

The claim was more recently validated by an IDC (International Data Corporation) study, according to which, while the Indian mobile market experienced a 27 per cent quarter-on-quarter growth from Q3 2013-2014, the feature phones growth saw a gradual decline with users showing more interest in smartphones. As per the study, the market share of feature phones declined from 81 per cent in Q3 2013 to 68 per cent in Q3 2014, while that of smartphones increased from 19 to 32 per cent.

Shubhajit Sen

Micromax Informatics, which claims to be among the leaders in the Rs. 7500 handset category, offers phones in three ranges - Canvas (the flagship brand of premium smartphones), Bolt (the entry-level smartphones) and feature phones. Shubhajit Sen, CMO, Micromax, tells us that even as Canvas is the top grosser for the company, it is currently the Bolt range that is witnessing an incremental growth.

"The overall mobile penetration in India in 2014 was 56 per cent, of which smartphones constituted only about 10-15 per cent. Every year, approximately 60-70 million Indians upgrade from feature phones to smartphones, and we estimate that it may go up to 90 million over the next couple of years," he informs. While some experts say that the affordability factor is driving the trend, Sen has a different take, based on Micromax's consumer study.

The company's research has identified three core barriers hindering faster smartphone adoption - the total cost of owning a smartphone which includes the cost of data, hesitation about using a touch-screen or an Android experience, and, lastly, the English language user interface. While these barriers exist, there are also certain triggers that work in favour of the shift.

"The opportunity lies in the ability and eagerness of consumers to connect with family/friends over basic messaging services like WhatsApp and the lure of a larger screen that helps them consume media much better. We, therefore, created an entire product portfolio keeping these barriers and triggers in mind, and the marketing campaign was designed to bust the various myths (the barriers) around owning a smartphone," shares Sen.

The Bolt range of phones combines a large display, regional language user interface, customised data package, free WhatsApp for the first five months and a fully developed customer education program with affordability for the brand's core TG comprising feature phone users who also use basic 2G and 3G data packages.

Celeb Factor

Recently, Micromax launched a blitzkrieg of sorts with one celebrity after another featuring in its campaigns. Post the Canvas Sliver 5 ad with Hugh Jackman, the company rolled out another TVC in partnership with the 'Singh is Bling' team, where actor Akshay Kumar and singer Badshah were seen rapping for Micromax. This time, it's Sharma and Daggubati.

"Most of our campaigns," explains Sen, "do not have a very long shelf life; the shortest running for about four weeks. One of our critical marketing rules, hence, is to build awareness and reach quickly. While nothing beats a good story and script, ambassadors multiply the impact of a campaign."

Talking about the relative importance of different mediums, he says, "For every hundred rupees that we spend on traditional media, we are now beginning to spend 30-35 on digital." Although Sen believes that the utility of any medium depends on the campaign objective, the current campaign is television-led because the audience it addresses is not too digital-friendly.

For connecting with customers emotionally, he recommends the use of television as the primary medium which, in turn, leads to active search patterns on digital. While these searches are directed to the company or merchant websites, the entire browsing cycle - right from grabbing the impression to the final product purchase - can be mapped to better understand consumer behaviour.

The brand employs print medium to communicate offers, flash sales and price-offs and outdoor/POS is used for generating long-term visibility. The latter, however, does not contribute significantly to sales.

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