Chinese telecommunications equipment and services company Huawei believes in engaging with consumers by creating an experience for them. Suhail Tariq, CMO, Huawei Devices Business, tells us why no ads blitzkrieg on TV can help achieve that for the brand
Q] Why did Huawei tie up with Rannvijay Singh’s Squadrann for the Honor 7X and why not a television show like Roadies?
I have zero experience in mobile technology, but I am fairly proud that I have a very strong understanding of the consumer. Unlike cars, mobile is bought by everyone and I realized that people, while they do consider the RAM and memory of the device, don’t buy phones just for that. They are looking at a connect with the brand too. We decided to call our campaign ‘Max your view’ through which we communicated the features of the phone interestingly. And for that, we tapped Rannvijay’s Squadrann which features tasks that are doable yet with their own twist of difficulty, so they were bound to test the phone’s camera, great gaming experience, screen and battery life differently. I believe Digital is the best way to connect with millenials.
Q] This is perhaps one of the first phones being projected in an adventure space through an adventure web series.
There is no denying that it’s an interesting space to be in. The TG that we are talking to are millennials who are into gaming, travel and adventure and if this is what they want to do, this probably is the best way to go out and communicate it to them. So, if my consumer is able to connect with this kind of a lifestyle, the job of communicating with them becomes much easier.
Q] Most phones have this one feature that they try and highlight like Oppo and front camera. What is the USP of Honor?
While we are not keen on highlighting just one feature, if we absolutely had to then it would be the dual camera. Honor as a brand stands for the legacy of dual cameras. Apple started it this year but our first phone with dual camera came in 2015. Today, we are running photo workshops for people who want to experiment with the pro mode of the smartphone camera because more often we don’t carry the DSLR everywhere we go. What do I do when a great shot presents itself? Simple-- use an Honor phone. So while dual camera is a legacy for the brand, as far as this phone is concerned it has to be the edge-to-edge display in the budget category that stands out.
Q] What is the marketing mix for the campaign?
It’s dominated by PR and Digital. We have used mass media but that’s only tactical. A lot of brands in the category use brand ambassadors, we call them influencers. Rannvijay is an influencer in the territory we want to operate in. I believe when a brand talks about a great camera like an Oppo, one should also build an experience around it. If I gave you a great device but didn’t tell you how to create an experience, it’s going to be a challenge. Every weekend, we invite enthusiasts across 4-5 cities and teach them the tricks of photography. For example, we may take them to a beach in Chennai first thing in the morning and ask them if they would like to learn about low light photography. So instead of banking only on the selfie as a brand, we are creating an experience. And I have created a pool of people which comes back and keeps sharing the rare experience that they have had with the phone. No amount of mass media usage will get me that.
Q] So you are not spending on Television at all?
The entire campaign is a mix of PR and Digital, about 80%90% of which includes social media and influencer marketing. Resources are not an issue. Our belief is that we haven’t tapped the market really well and what I mean by that is that there is a sizeable population that we need to engage with. ‘Widening reach’ is not a target for me. For example, I put a million dollars to reach out to the people through Television, but have I created meaningful engagement with them? No. So, this campaign that we are trying to build is an attempt to create an experience. It’s not that we haven’t tried Television advertising - we did it for Honor 8; but we just feel Digital works better.
Q] What is the current market-share for Huawei phones in India and what is the target?
We want to be among the top three phone brands in the next three years.
Q] How important is India as a market for the brand?
China is our headquarters and beyond that India is one of the markets that will drive growth for us. In fact, India is not a country for us, it is a region, it’s the size of the penetrable market that we are looking at right now. That’s how important India is for us. We have a ‘glocal’ approach, i.e., you behave like a global brand with the nuances of a local. So, the kind of products that we launch may have slightly different configuration but we will curate it, the way the audience wants it.
Q] How did you add an Indian touch to Huawei’s Honor 7X?
The Indian audience is very price sensitive. So, while I may be giving you a great product if I don’t give it to you in the price that you are looking for, I will face a challenge. So, when we launched this product, we said it’s at a global best price we are offering in India. The phone was available for 30% less when compared to what we sell it for in the rest of the world.
Q] What are the strong growth areas for you within the ‘India region’, as you put it?
Kerala is one. The digital barriers were much less down South, because the literacy rate was high. So, South – comprising Chennai, Bangalore, Kochi - is a key market for us driving growth and Delhi comes next.
Q] What are the upcoming features or products from the Huawei stable that can be game-changers for the brand?
Next month, we are coming up with a new phone which will be thoroughly based on artificial intelligence. One interesting feature which will make it a big hit in India is the translator. You won’t have to be online and yet will get translation on the go. So if you are travelling in a country as diverse as India and do not understand a particular language, your phone will provide you with instant translation of multiple preset languages. It has got an in-built Microsoft translator feature. Also, there was a time when a phone was launched globally, and came to India after 2-3 months. We will turn that around completely.
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