Despite rapid growth of tablets and smartphones in India, HP, one of the world’s leading technology companies, continues to have strong faith in the personal computer business. Ranjivjit Singh, Chief Marketing Officer of HP PSG India, has gone beyond the traditional marketing activities to connect with youth by coupling technology with user experience
Q] The Personal Computer market in India continues to grow at a high rate despite a significant growth of mobile and tablet products. What is your approach to the PC market?
We have always said that PCs are here to stay. While mobile phone penetration in India stands at 60%, PC penetration is lower than 5%. It is still a growing market and a lot of PC adoption is yet to be witnessed here. IDC estimates that 346.2 million PCs were sold worldwide last year and the PC market will grow 9.3% year-on-year in 2012 (Source: IDC). That is a huge market. Less than 18% of the world’s population uses a PC, and as PC usage continues to proliferate to more than 2 billion people in the next three years; the majority of this growth will come from rapidly developing countries. Meanwhile, people are creating and consuming more content than ever, and the PC is the product of choice for this. At HP, we see this as a huge opportunity. The recent restructuring in PSG along our primary customer segments: commercial, consumer premium and consumer volume is the key element of our overall business strategy when it comes to our approach to the PC business. Three things need undivided attention for our brand to grow - good products, a stable distribution channel and a strong team to drive growth and thankfully, we have all three of them.
Q] What has been the response to HP notebook products in India? How are growth opportunities in this segment?
We see huge potential in the notebook segment. We have now come up with a clear product strategy, where the focus is to offer products that best suit the lifestyle and work style needs of the youth. The company has hence moved beyond highlighting the technology differentiators like memory, processing power, graphics and started focusing on how user experience, for instance how users can enjoy studio-quality music, play games comfortably for hours, avoid the trouble of remembering multiple passwords, etc. Looking at the positive response, we now offer these features in notebooks across price points.
Q] Is the fast-emerging tablet market on your agenda? Do you see it as a challenge to PCs in the near future?
Tablets are very much on the cards; in fact we are launching new products like our new tablet PC ‘Slate’ which runs on Microsoft Windows 7, but our view of the tablet is different. It won’t necessarily replace existing laptops and desktops. It would be an added device, meant largely for entertainment and mobility. Fundamentally, the PC will stay central to work, education, entertainment and other such scenarios while other form factors will accessorize usage. So it’s not really an ‘either-or’ situation, the two devices can co-exist and offer the consumer more choice.
Q] What are the marketing activities that you undertake to build your brand? What is your media mix?
Our current campaign “Everybody On” gives customers a powerful reason to buy HP products. It promises a superior experience. Our technology enables consumers to ‘create, share and shine on’ and gives them the power to ‘Feel every emotion’. Through our research, we realized that the young generation is always online, even when on the move. So, digital plays a significant role and a major part of our marketing spend will go there. We have 87,500 Facebook members on our brand page. For the past few years, HP has been associated with the NBA to promote basketball in the country and has hosted the visits of many basketball players. Our last TVC launched in partnership with MTS and Intel, focuses on the youth’s need for ‘Mobility’ and ‘Connectivity’.
Q] What is the rationale behind using music to connect with people?
Youngsters are really passionate about music. In a recent study (by Synovate Study) 23% of Indian youth said they spent more time listening to music and 83% said music formed a very important part of their lives. Keeping this in mind, HP decided to give its young consumers the option to experience best quality music at the most affordable prices. We launched our star product designed for the young: HP Pavilion Dv6 with beats technology- ‘Finally a PC for Music lovers which allows you to hear music the way artists intended’. We are now expanding our ‘BeatsTM Audio’ range to offer customers laptops with this technology starting at prices as low as Rs 24,000.
Q] What is HP’s global marketing campaign ‘Everybody On’ and the recently launched campaign ‘Feel the Emotion’ focused on?
HP’s current campaign “Everybody On” focuses on unique, relevant, differentiated features and their key target benefits. The compelling HP product stories give reasons why everybody should be on HP technology. We are trying to build ‘A New HP World’ where everybody is “on” and, everybody is connected – where shared passions connect people’s personal and professional lives, and where experiences connect people with each other. Developed in collaboration with Goodby, McCann, OMG, Publicis, DesignKitchen, Creature and Edelman, the “Everybody On” campaign celebrates how people around the world are using HP technology to connect to their world and achieve their personal and professional passions. The next step is that our technology enables you to ‘create, share and shine on’ and gives you the power to ‘Feel the Emotion’.
Q] How do you plan to target the top end of the market?
The early adopters form an interesting and important segment of our target audience as they set the precedent for the rest. We plan to closely engage with this segment by tailoring our communications with respect to what the brand stands for, as well as by offering new and innovative products that suit the preferences of this segment.
Q] Can you elaborate on your strategic alliance with MTS and Intel?
This is a unique initiative that marks the coming together of three brands that have innovative products offering value to the youth. By bringing together complimenting elements of technology, we aim to provide a one-stop solution for youngsters that will significantly enhance their computing experience in social media consumption and other entertainment selections. As a part of this partnership, our customers can now buy HP Pavilion notebook powered by Intel’s processing capabilities & get MTS Mblaze at Rs 699 only.
Q] What is your strategy to regain the top position in personal computers and improve profitability?
PSG is the third largest business of HP worldwide. Globally, the PSG unit contributes to one-third of HP’s revenues. PSG is about a $40 billion business operating in more than 170 countries around the world. This industry has always been competitive, but for any brand to survive and be profitable, two things are really important— innovation and agility. This explains our strategy- having a broad-based technology leadership and providing experience to our consumers by meeting their requirements. These would be the differentiators for us. If we take care of these, market leadership is bound to happen automatically.
Q] What is your biggest challenge today?
In a fragmented market like India, the biggest challenge for a marketer is to engage with their audience situated in different parts of the country. There is so much to communicate and so many opportunities to connect with your target audience, but finding the right channels is a challenge. We are constantly trying to develop solutions to engage in interactive conversations that will build affinity for the brand.