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How to "Win Customers as a New Brand"
The ascent of Micromax is a very interesting marketing case study to say the least. The most interesting part has been their use of aggressive pricing with smart positioning. Pratik Seal, Head-Marketing, shares how the company challenged the cash rich mncs in a crowded market
Anchit Gupta | Issue Date - 03/02/2012

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Q. In a relatively short span of over three years, Micromax has become a strong contender in the Indian mobile handset market. What was your strategy to tap rural and urban markets?
If we look back and see the secenrio three years back, India was a booming market for telecom. The interiors were where all the focus was happening. UP was a poster boy for telecom followed by Bihar, et al. So the game was all about penetration as more and more people were adapting to mobility. So rural consumers were also coming in with great anticipation. They were looking to take advantage of the usage of mobile phones; seeing the benefits that an investment made in a phone and a SIM card could provide – and that it could lead to betterment of their lifestyle, connectivity, et al. At that stage, we foresaw that and we were selling in rural areas. Now the challenge was to tap the urban areas or the replacement segment. If you go to rural areas, the brand awareness is pretty high. But if you come to Delhi and even a city like Meerut, the brand awareness is much less as here, consumers aspire for multinational phone brands. It was a cluttered environment and it was important to differentiate ourselves and create a positioning when there is a bunch of multinational brands. Then we realized that we should climb up the value chain. We started looking at more and more consumer insights. The promoters are first generation entrepreneurs and engineers who look for innovation and not just making a phone. We looked into all the 4Ps of marketing and looked at smart price positioning. The journey of a brand never ends we are still climbing the value ladder.

Q. On the question of consumer insights, which market factors did you leverage in particular and how?
Take the instance of the phone Bling. We did not price it for Rs.10000. To meet customer aspirations, we priced it at Rs.5000, looking into the affordability factor. We thought of making a quasi-brand, which cuts across segments. We targeted youth. Social networking was germinating. There was a bunch of early adopters who were already on Orkut and were moving to Facebook. At that, we stared looking at what youngsters do most with their phones. They listen to music, surf, et al. But they text more than they talk and there is a privacy element to that. So we thought of a QWERTY keypad in that segment with social networking (Q5). QWERTY was present in the Rs.15k+ bracket. So that was our foray in the youth segment and today, we have a large chunk of users who are youth. We focused on communication, which was more differentiated and destructive.

Q. How important was the digital medium in your entire scheme of things?
Digital wasn't just another medium for advertisement. There is one interesting aspect – the consumption in the digital medium is highly democratic, opinion forming and opinion disseminating. It is the primary medium that the youth looks for to sort out any problem or to take advice. Advice is generally from peer to peer. So for us, the digital medium was where dissemination of information took place and people conversed in a democratic way. We also used it as a feedback forum for certain ideas that we came out with.
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