“At Havells, we keep our eyes and ears pretty close to the market,” says Vijay Narayanan, VP Marketing, Havells India, as he talks about the brand’s latest ad campaign with Rajesh Khanna and innovative marketing strategy in a low interest category, which is to engage consumers while they watch cricket.
ABOUT THE BRAND
Havells India Ltd is one of India’s largest and fastest growing electrical and power distribution equipment manufacturers, with products ranging from industrial and domestic circuit protection switchgear, cables and wires, motors, fans, power capacitors, CFL lamps, luminaires, modular switches, water heaters and domestic appliances covering the entire gamut of household, commercial and industrial electrical needs. Havells owns some prestigious global brands like Crabtree, Sylvania, Concord, Luminance, Linolite and Standard. Its 20,000-strong global distribution network is dedicated to customer service. Havells and its brands are popular among individuals and industrial consumers both in India and abroad.
Vijay Narayanan, VP Marketing, Havells India, has over 15 years of experience in the electronics space. In the course of his career, he has had varied roles with global electronics giant LG Electronics in Communication, Products, Product Planning and Brand Management. Narayanan joined Havells India in 2010, as Vice President, and has since then increased brand salience with unique campaigns, maintaining brand recall and visibility.
Q] What were the insights behind using Rajesh Khanna for the TVC, as opposed to a current celebrity? Do you think the youth audience will connect with this?
While we were discussing the fan theme for this year, we wanted to bring out the fact that our fans are all premium ones, with long durability; we were thinking around the idea of durability, long life and narrowed down on this as the theme itself. The agency suggested a number of options and we decided to go with Rajesh Khanna. The clutter level of the current stars is too high. Khanna was the first superstar, which has a different charm altogether. This is his first ad appearance, hence clutter level is nil. Khanna coming into the limelight is another talking point. The general feeling we got was that it would generate a lot of buzz and it has managed to do that. My target group is the 25 to 30+ age group, and they have probably not seen too many films of Khanna’s, but understand definitely what he is all about. They hum his songs even today. It’s not like people don’t know – in fact, they know him well, and the bulk of comments on the television commercial are coming in from youngsters who connect with him in some way or the other. It is not easy to become a trending topic on Twitter, but thanks to the Havells advertisement, ‘Rajesh Khanna’ has become a trending topic.
Q] You have products across segments, so how do your marketing campaigns differ as per category? What is the common thread across the marketing campaigns?
Each category has its own need, so you have to treat them separately. Over the years, Havells has had a very distinct and unique style of advertising, which is more eye-catching and has added value to the brand. If you look at the campaign for wires, which is ‘Wires that Don’t Catch Fire’, or the ‘Shock Laga’ campaign for switch gears, or ‘Switching On and Off Goes On and On’ for switches - the underlying message is durability. The premise is the same, the way of narrating the stories are different. We operate in a low interest category for some products. Generally, the consumer doesn’t go himself to buy these products.,the electrician does. The basic premise of doing these campaigns was to spread awareness, so that even though the electrician is buying these products, the consumers are aware of our products and brand and know what to pick. The wire campaign had emotional content and the ‘Shock Laga’ campaign had humorous content.
Q] What is the common thread across the marketing campaigns?
The common thread is the underlying promise of a high quality, premium and durable product.
Q] Can you share details of your media mix with us? How are you making use of the digital medium to connect with consumers?
Our media allocation would be largely television; and that too during cricket programmes. We have associated with the Indian Premier League (IPL) for all the five editions, and all other leading cricket tournaments, which will be our mainstay in the future as well. At the moment, Digital for us is miniscule, not even 1% of ad spends. Havells is present on all social media including YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. We have regular updates and interaction with consumers. We have two sites on Facebook, by and large people are taking an interest. At present, it is a small exercise and we have not spent money. We are just making our presence felt. We have not done any Digital campaigns as such, our product line - be it fans or lighting – is made up of energy efficient products. We are generally looking for ways to promote energy efficiency on social media.
Q] Do you think the IPL has given you a good return on investment? There has been constant talk of TRPs going down this year and we see fewer sponsors...
Everyone seems to be saying that TRPs have gone down, but currently it is similar to last year’s TRPs. The reach level is already 80% of last year’s reach for matches until April 24. This means more people are yet to see us. Whether we like it or not, IPL is the most performing programme on television, the TRPs are low only in comparison to the first and second year. What also works in our favour is that clutter level is less this year. I would say the IPL this year is giving better ROI than last year.
Q] How has the Indian consumer evolved in terms of expectations over the years?
Indian consumers have started spending more on quality products; cost is not so much a factor as it was earlier. Five years ago, cost would be a deciding factor. Today, if the consumer sees a quality product, he is ready to buy it. He wants multiple options in terms of colour, size, etc., He is now very particular that everything should match his décor, that’s why we had to come up with fans in multiple colours and finishes, even wooden finish fans. So there are choices that people have today and more importantly, they demand products of their choice. Quality consciousness is also very high. People do a lot of research online before they buy anything for their homes. There is obviously a high level of awareness to only go for the best. The Indian consumer is far more evolved, aware and demanding now.
Q] Can you name one marketing campaign that really worked for the brand with significant results and one that didn’t?
Our Shock Laga, Bijli, wires campaigns have all worked very well, in terms of driving brand salience and sales. The brand has been growing at a healthy rate over the last four to five years. There have been stray campaigns such as one we did on CFL, involving a hangman, that got a lot of flak. So we had to withdraw the campaign without carrying it full-fledged.
Q] How do you measure the success of a campaign?
The advantage we have today is of being online. So the moment a campaign is out, the web is a great source for us to take inputs. We also have feedback channels through our dealers and sales teams, and our own research.
Q] What activities do you undertake to talk to the youth, who are increasingly gaining purchasing and hence decision-making power?
We are using the largest media, i.e., television and cricket. We have Havells Galaxy outlets, which are 150 exclusive Havells stores across the country, where we interact with consumers in an intrinsic manner to understand their needs and share information about our products. We also have dealers’ meets, but no consumer connect programmes at the moment.
Q] What are the marketing challenges faced by the brand ?
We have multiple categories; around 13 in all. The challenge would be to balance between the industrial and consumer categories. It shouldn’t be that while we are focusing on the consumer category, the industrial category suffers.
Q] What is your one marketing tip for upcoming marketing managers?
One needs to connect with consumers and understand ground reality. At Havells, we keep our eyes and ears pretty close to the market; so we understand what the market needs and what the loopholes are. Therefore, we are able to plan for it not only through research agencies, but also by getting to the pulse of the market ourselves.