Ciao '14 | A Year of innovation and challenges, Marketers put in thoughts...!

We at Adgully have been speaking to veterans across various industries for quite some time now and in our last but not the least edition we thought of asking some brands about how the past year treated them. As we all know Indian consumers experienced a big penetration of technology this year and hence catering to the ever changing demands of the growing consumers of country, some of the brands witnessed a highly challenging year and some grew with the changing need and demands of their consumers.

As 2014 saw a lot of brands innovatively catering to its target audiences hence Adgully caught up with Ronita Mitra, Head, Brand and Consumer Insights Vodafone India; Pradeep Bakshi, President and Chief Operating Officer (UPBG & M&CED), Voltas Limited; Shantanu Das Gupta, Vice President- Corporate Affairs & Strategy, Asia South, Whirlpool and Amar Thomas, Country Marketing Manager, BlackBerry India.

Year Round-Up:

Mitra said, “At Vodafone, the focus was on communicating differentiated propositions that resonated with core needs of customers. Whether, it was the IPL campaign around communicating a range of propositions that help us deliver a superior customer experience or the launch of Vodafone Red which is a dedicated, compelling proposition for the postpaid consumers. The emotional connect that each creative has with the consumer ensures a strengthening of the affinity that consumers have with Vodafone”.

Bakshi said, “Despite intense competition, erratic weather conditions and price hikes due to star rating up-gradation, the Air Conditioner industry in India has grown this year.  This growth was witnessed after a lull of almost 3 years due to stronger consumer sentiments in the Consumer Durable industry. We feel that this momentum will be further fuelled by the new Government’s outlook towards the infrastructure sector, and revival of the manufacturing sector.” 

“This fiscal Voltas, as a brand, not only consolidated its market leadership but continued to outgrow the Industry. Market share touched an all-time high of 22.3% on secondary charts, with a clear lead from nearest competition. The category is expected to witness positive sentiments after many years of muted performance. On the back drop of broader policy reforms strengthening the consumption story, business outlook for the next few quarters looks better. Easing liquidity and an expanding manufacturing sector, will further aid the momentum,” Bakshi added.

For Blackberry, the year 2014 has been a good year, as they progressed forward with a redefined strategy with the brand transcending beyond a ‘device only’ company. There has been a significant headway with the 4 pillars growth strategy viz- Devices, Unified Communications and Collaboration, Enterprise Services and QNX.

“We have invested heavily in bolstering our enterprise offerings and have added significant capabilities therein; our devices portfolio today is not only stronger and richer but has experienced huge customer response with almost stock out situations for BlackBerry Z3 and the iconic BlackBerry Passport. This year also saw us contributing to partnerships and investments around our IoT play to strengthen our proposition there. We believe we are on track to achieve our strategy aligned to the global vision of reenergizing the brand as a preferred mobility partner for both enterprises and consumers,” Thomas said. 

“Given our large customer base, engagement and affinity building is a critical part of our strategy. Our association with IPL is a key lever that we leverage to engage with our customers. We have established properties offering money can’t buy experience such as the Super Fan and the fan Army. Building local connect has also been our focus in our local markets. We have done this through our own properties like the Vodafone Cycling Marathon in Bangalore or the Vodafone Agomoni in Kolkata,” Mitra added.

Gupta said, “2014 will be remembered as a mixed year. One thought that we were seeing the beginning of the end to the prolonged slowdown that the appliance industry faced. The return of stability in currency and commodities, and the restoration of business confidence, gave one hope.

However, lack of growth is still a worry: apart from the benefit of an extended summer and a comparatively good Diwali, demand in the appliance industry has been sluggish and remains the highest concern as we exit the year.”

Outlook 2015:

At Voltas, the focused approach will continue to be on increasing retail presence, and to further intensify our service footprint. “Our investment in R&D will continue, enabling us to introduce the latest and most innovative products. Our efforts to keep the brand differentiated will be again visible in the coming summers,” Bakshi added.  

Giving his perspective, Gupta opined, “Despite the ups and downs in 2014, it was a better year than 2013. And we expect 2015 to be better than 2014, and the growth to be evenly spread across different consumer segments. But as demand remains sluggish, measures that can stimulate growth are urgently needed. For one, we hope the government extends the excise duty cut beyond December to prevent tax-led price increase. We hope that the budget helps put more money in the hands of consumers. Finally, we hope the implementation of GST does not go beyond 2016.”

Thomas believes that majority of Indians connected to the internet through smartphones. Estimates suggest 70% web traffic(page views)  is through mobile devices and an increasing appetite to purchase online will mean marketers and brands would invest more on the mobile platform; to not only drive transactions but make the ecosystem the first choice for online purchasing. This would also mean more transaction through mobile while driving newer payment options like mobile wallet.

Thomas said, “India will also continue to see buoyant uptake for mobile devices especially smartphones, thanks to proliferation of affordable devices and availability of better connectivity and data services. Therefore, the importance of mobile marketing will be undeniable to brands and marketers in India, with mobile being a core component of the overarching marketing strategies. Advancements in mobile technology, larger screens, will enable improvements in the mobile video experience on the back of 4G roll out.”

“We can therefore, expect marketers to drive in a dash of innovation with video ads/ easily consumable video content that will drive virtual consumer experiences. Social media based, native advertising, will all be centered on driving engagement and relevance. Further, click through, app downloads and e mail opt INS will be tools that brands will increasingly use for driving user centric engagement. Another interesting trend will be the emergence of alternative forms of payment tools with mobile wallets. Mobile retail payments through apps and NFC will slowly dominate over cash payments. We may not yet see huge proliferation of NFC, but 2015 will be the year when brands will increasingly start offering the taste of the first fruits of NFC,” Thomas conclusively said.

Well, undoubtedly 2014 was a year full of technological shift and marketers look forward for 2015 with a lot of hope….We at Adgully wish each and every one a very Happy New Year…….!!!! | By Aanchal Kohli | Twitter: @aanchalkohli


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