By Dipali Banka
With a clear strategy to tap the Indian growth story, Shailendra Katyal, Director, Marketing, Lenovo India is making the right choices to fend off competition.
What is the key challenge that you are trying to address with your recent campaign? What are the insights behind the commercial?
If you look at the technology landscape, specifically the PC category, there are very few brands that stand out in terms of philosophy, promise and attitude. And that was also true for Lenovo before this campaign. While we are a large global brand operating in more than 200 countries, we did not have a very strong positioning. We were seen as any other global PC manufacturer which stood for reliability, trust and recent technology but in terms of a clear emotional identification of the brand, there was none. Also, as we were the fastest growing brand in the last five quarters, we thought it was time we announced to the world what we stood for as a company and a brand, and start building the emotional connect. So the exercise for this global brand campaign started with a new global head of marketing coming on board last year. He started the whole repositioning exercise, and Saatchi & Saatchi New York won the account in January this year. It has taken two to three months to put the campaign together and roll out in all focused geographies, India obviously being one of them.
It being a global campaign, what are you doing to make it relevant to Indian audiences?
If you look at the insight first, it is primarily based on youth, which is what Lenovo wants to focus on as an audience. If you look at youngsters today, they do not want to rely on any system, they want to be in charge of their own destiny. They want to take control and believe in making things happen. So when Lenovo along with the creative agency went through the whole process of looking for insights, a lot of these words kept popping up. This entire sense of ‘doing things’ came through very strongly and that is where the insight of ‘do’ came about. It also resonated well with our internal corporate philosophy which says ‘we own what we do, we do what we say’. So there was a certain fitment between what the youth today wanted and what we believed internally as an organisation which led to the genesis of this whole line ‘for those who do’. And we as a company make tools for people who want to make things happen.
Youth across the world is a homogenous entity. So the theme is very relevant for Indian youth as well. Also, with economic growth of India and growing jobs and opportunities, the timing is also right from India perspective. We are in the process of identifying three or four people who can become ambassadors of this philosophy and there again the preference is not so much for celebrities but people who are doing real stuff with technology.
Last year Lenovo launched the ‘please daddy please’ campaign. How does your current campaign co-relate with the previous one?
Till last year, almost all geographies were working on completely localised insights, and somewhere we felt the need for a common theme, which is the genesis of our current campaign. So the previous campaign ‘please daddy please’ was done in the absence of a strong global positioning and we are not going to continue with that. That insight was based on our earlier positioning of our product range around having fun. So the tonality and execution of the campaign was done in that manner.
What is your media mix for the campaign? How much are you spending on it?
The media mix is geared towards youth media consumption. We’ve followed the logic of media mix along with passion points. If you look at passion points for youth, they will be cinema, music and sports. We’ve looked at these genres for our communication. We broke our campaign during IPL this year and had spots on Formula One, French Open and now Wimbledon. We are heavy on music channels like MTV and Channel V. And apart from television, the number one priority for us is digital because this category is driven a lot by internet search and display, and people want to search for the best PCs and laptops and compare prices, features etc before buying them.
What similarities do you see in the Chinese and Indian PC markets? Are you trying to adopt Chinese marketing strategies in India?
Lenovo worldwide is broken up into two large geographical segments. One is North America and Western Europe markets and other one is the emerging market group. The emerging market group includes BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) countries and other smaller emerging regions. And there are many common themes across these markets. One of them is PC buyer experience. Penetration of PC category in emerging markets is not as high as mature markets. So while you are selling a third PC to an 18-year-old in western markets you are probably selling the first PC to a 24-year-old in emerging markets. So, that is a common element in China and India. Also because of huge population and geographical spread, the retail experience is also similar. We have a very strong presence in tier III-IV cities in China and we have almost 7,500 exclusive Lenovo stores there. We are following a similar model in India in retail distribution. We’ve crossed 400 own stores here and our aim is to open 1000 own stores by the end of this year. And most of the expansion in terms of own store capability is happening in tier III-IV cities because that is where the real growth is happening in India in terms of adoption of the PC category.
How do you plan to combat competition in this category, which is occupied by fairly strong brands?
In last one year we grew two and half times the market and have been the fastest growing PC brand. The reason for that is our strategy, and strategy is all about choice making. We’ve made very strong choices, we call it the attack and protect strategy. Protect our relationship business which is the large business segment where we are the leader in the category and attack the high growth segments like consumer and SMBs (small-medium businesses). Because of this clear choice making strategy on attack and protect, we are able to deploy our execution machinery and investments very well.
And execution is all about getting your 4Ps right. I think for us it is the combination of all the 4Ps falling in line, coming together for us to ward off competition.
Lenovo’s global marketing hub is based in Bangalore where you undertake jobs for countries across the world. How does it work?
We are present in more than two hundred countries and our scale of business may not permit a full-fledged marketing team in all these countries. India being a large market, we have a full-fledged local marketing team, and a couple of other countries. But a lot of countries rely on the hub for marketing support. So whenever they have a campaign to roll out, the creative deployment happens out of Bangalore. Our local marketing team is a completely different entity. The hub supports geographies which do not have a dedicated marketing team.
And it is actually a huge advantage to have a global marketing hub here. There are people who move from Indian marketing team to the worldwide hub and vice versa. And because people have worked across multiple geographies, the overall contribution to the team is very useful.