Ritu Gupta, Director, Marketing, Consumer & Small Business, Dell India talks about the brand’s initiative to drive PC adoption in India’s smaller markets and tells us why the youth is Dell’s key target audience
By Christina Moniz
Q] What were the thoughts behind the ongoing Dell Aarambh programme?
The Dell Aarambh programme was introduced with the objective of educating people about the usage of a PC in learning, and to demonstrate the advantages of interactive methods particularly in the developmental years of a child. As a country with a population of 1.2 billion people, PC penetration in India is at a dismal 11%. We’re moving towards a digital economy, yet we don’t have the kind of PC penetration necessary to do that. Research we conducted in 2015 indicated that parents in homes without a PC recognise the value of computers as a learning tool. However we noticed a clear gap between parents from Tier I and Tier II cities who were more receptive to technology as compared to parents from Tier III and Tier IV cities and towns. Also, not all PC users are owners. The objective of the programme was to get schools, teachers, students and parents roped in to drive digital growth and learning for young people. Through this programme, we are driving awareness and enabling better learning for young people in Tier II, III and IV markets. We began this project in June, 2016 with a target of 200,000 parents, 100,000 teachers across 5,000 schools in 75 cities. I am delighted that we have reached over 3,500 schools and over 63,000 teachers so far.
Q] You’ve just gone on air with the Ek Behtar Kal Ka Aarambh TVC. How else do you plan to promote this campaign and amplify it?
Since Dell Aarambh is aimed at transforming the learning experience for students and educators, we have tied up with NIIT whose trainers work closely with the teachers and schools, and with Edurite for the educational content. Additionally, we have partnered with Bajaj Finance to create relevant financing schemes for teachers and schools since finance has been a key barrier to PC adoption in the smaller markets. Our new TVC of course is an extension of the program. The TVC will be aired across leading kids’ entertainment and movie channels, as well as Hindi and regional news and general entertainment channels. Aside from TV, we will also be amplifying this campaign on other platforms like Digital, Print and cinemas.
Q] Are you focusing on any particular markets or cities?
We have focused on 75 Tier II, III and IV cities and towns across the length and breadth of the country. We’re not looking at metros obviously because PC penetration in these markets is not a concern.
Q] What are some of the challenges you have encountered while driving this programme?
I wouldn’t call them challenges but I would say this entire journey has been both satisfying and humbling. It has been an educational process for us as well. This initiative has been an incredible opportunity to reach out to these young, curious minds and watch them grow. It is only a matter of time before we see the fruits of this program in terms of a shift in consumer behaviour towards PC adoption. We have already seen a perception shift and a greater awareness about digital learning.
Q] What kind of response have you seen from teachers and schools so far?
We have had a very positive response from teachers, schools and students. The schools now recognize that digital learning is the way to go. In fact, the response has been so good that we have had requests for training from several other schools that were not even on our original target list.
Q] What are some of the other steps you have taken to encourage PC usage among students?
We’re one of the few PC makers in the country who have repeatedly invested in driving category awareness and adoption. Aside from Dell Aarambh, we have also initiated other programs to drive PC usage in the student community. Dell Champs is one such initiative running for five years now, a 25 city student-outreach program that emphasizes the role of the personal computer in the process of learning for school going children. We maintain a constant engagement with the youth as well, and our college contact programme Dell Campassadors, a youth focused flagship pan India engagement program held in college campuses, is aimed at providing opportunities for the youth to pursue their passions and to hone their skills with the use of a PC. Last year, we reached out to 90 campuses across the country and this year, we are looking to go well past the 100 mark. The key idea is to explore ways to encourage students to have fun learning with technology while also helping them channelize their talent. The governing principle behind all our marketing strategies has been to demonstrate how technology can help shape your mind irrespective of whether you’re a 9-year-old school student or an 18-year-old college youth.
Q] Would you say then that students are your primary target audience?
India is largely a young nation, as you know, so the youth are definitely an important consumer segment for the brand. That being said, family and parents are also key decision-makers and it is important that we include them in our communication too.
Q] What is your media mix?
Digital definitely is an important medium for us not only because it allows us to reach out to a wider audience but also because it allows us to have a genuine conversation with our customers. We design our digital communication in such a way that it permits greater consumer engagement. While we have begun to invest more in the digital space, I should add that all our campaigns have a 360 degree approach.
Q] Have your marketing spends changed in the last year, with Dell Aarambh?
Yes, our marketing spends have definitely increased in the past year by over 10%. Dell Aarambh is an outreach program that we are completely invested in and are very serious about; ours is not a flash in the pan approach.
Q] How do you approach communication in rural markets vis-à-vis the metros?
The media vehicles may differ from market to market but the messaging stays the same because the consumer aspirations are not very different from each other. It’s just that a young person in Delhi or Mumbai has more opportunity compared to a youth from a smaller town. But technology is a great leveller. With technology, they will both have the opportunity to discover their potential and express their passion. As a technolgy brand, our endeavour is to bridge that opportunity gap.
Q] Given that the market is moving towards smaller screens, how does the brand reinvent its product offerings and communication to stay relevant?
Dell’s products this year have won probably the maximum number of awards at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas. We won as many as 50 awards! That says a lot about our products, not just in terms of performance but also their look and aesthetics. In a couple of months, you’re going to see several exciting product launches in the country from Dell.
Q] What is Dell’s current market-share in India?
Our current market-share in India stands at 23.3%.
Q] What are the emerging consumer trends you have identified in the Indian market?
India is already on the path to becoming a digital economy, so we believe that there will be greater adoption of technology in both urban and rural markets. We’re already seeing a trend of consumers who own multiple devices, and people across the country are beginning to recognise that technology is an enabler for everybody. Technology has now become an integral part of our everyday life and this is great for us. The more technology impacts our lives positively, the greater the demand for it.
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