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"There is nothing wrong about being affordable" [Financial Express (India)]
[January 22, 2013]

"There is nothing wrong about being affordable" [Financial Express (India)]

(Financial Express (India) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) In 2008, when Micromax entered the mobile handset market, everyone thought it would end up as just another me-too brand. However, the brand emerged as a game changer with a succession of handset models packed with features but light on the pocket. It began with a great knock by being the first one to launch a dual SIM phone forcing market leaders such as Nokia and Samsung to follow suit, in addition to being the first one to introduce the concept of a 30-day battery backup.

Four years later, Micromax is venturing into new product categories even as it strengthens its hold over the India handset market with an array of smartphones. Its Anroid smartphone A110 Canvas 2 is among the latest launches besides debuting in the LED television set market. In a conversation with FE's Anushree Bhattacharyya, Shubhodip Pal, chief marketing officer, Micromax, talks about how the mobile handset manufacturer is working towards an image makeover. Edited excerpts.

While Mircomax has performed exceptionally well in terms of sales, it is still perceived as an importer of Chinese handsets. What is being done to get rid of this belief Apple, too, manufactures its products in China, does that mean it sells crappy products I don't think so. People have this tendency to slot us with the Lavas or Spices of the world who bring handsets from China because when Micromax started its operations there was an avalanche of Chinese mobile handsets. Therefore, to erode the perception that we are a Chinese trading company, will be tough, but the work has begun. And hopefully in the next six to seven months the entire transformation will take place. Going forward the entire tonality of the brand will change and one will see Micromax transforming into a serious brand. The launch of A110 Canvas2 is the first step towards it.

You seemed to be trying out new ideas when it comes to your marketing and communication strategy. What are the changes that have been brought about Yes, it is true that we are playing with new ideas. It is very important that the customer gets to touch and feel the product because unless she relates to the product she will never invest her money. Therefore, 'demonstration' is vital. So a lot more focus is being given to activations and associations such as the Sunburn Festival or the Colors Golden Petal awards, etc. There are three things which touches the Indian consumer - music, movies and sports and I if I am able to ensure a successful association across all the three verticals, I think half my job is done. Over all, the idea is to be more realistic in terms of where I want the brand to be and how I want it to be.

The next part of our communication is advertisements. Generally, all advertisements in the Android category are focussed on the software. For example, all the communication designed for Samsung either talks about the software or the applications. But we are talking about the hardware. At the end of day, what really matters is how different you are from the rest and what your strength is. The reason why a consumer should buy a Micromax phone is because it has much better hardware such as an IPS screen or better quality speakers, so when one starts the music app the experience is completely different. We have divided the entire gamut of phones into two categories - smart feature phones and intelligent smart phones, apart from tablets.

You have long played on the affordability factor. How long will you continue depending on price There is nothing wrong about being affordable. Why should I charge the consumer thrice or twice the amount when I can make gross margins which are even higher than that on a Samsung model My overheads are less, and I do not operate in a thousand different countries. When a consumer sees a spectacular product, she instantly falls in love with it, and when she hears the price, she says, 'wow' and exactly this is where price plays an important role. When I see that delight on the consumer's face which says, 'wow, I can easily buy this phone', it is then that I feel satisfied.

Earlier, Micromax used to say that it belongs to people living in tier II and III cities in India. Has that changed In this country there are people who aspire for the best, want the best and can afford the best. Take the case of Greater Kailash Part I, in Delhi. While there are people who are owners of the posh bungalows and can afford an Apple product easily, the same place has people who, while they can pay a rent of R30,000 per month for a two-bedroom apartment, have to think twice before he or she buys an Apple product. So I cannot say that Micromax only belongs to tier II or III towns. Today my consumer could be anywhere and I have to reach out to that person in the best possible way I can.

Last year you entered the television set business. What is behind this diversification Micromax will be present in any category that is related to the screens business. LED television is just a small step taken towards turning this belief into reality and going forward, one will witness Micromax entering several new categories.

Copyright 2013 The Indian Express Online Media Pvt. Ltd., distributed by Credit: Shubhodip Pal (c) 2013 The Indian Express Online Media Pvt. Ltd., distributed by

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