2009, INTERVIEWS, MAY 2009

Interview: “BTL, online & mobile to be the key media in the future”

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Deepti Dang

Technology marketing offers its own sets of challenges. The marketing head for commercial & small and medium businesses under the personal systems group of Hewlett-Packard India Deepti Dang shares the challenges she faces and how she plans to overcome them. Dang is responsible for marketing strategy, planning and programmes, including channel marketing for this division. Correspondent Deepti Aggarwal finds out what new developments are taking place at HP.  Excerpts from an interview:  

How does HP look at the domestic market? How have the ‘made-for India’ PCs fared?
We clearly see a big opportunity here. We entered this market in 1988 and today this is one of the largest and most diverse sites for HP outside of the US. Our 30,000-plus employees are spread over 42 locations in this country.

This market is driven by connectivity and mobility, riding high on fashion and style. Thus, HP is focusing on bringing technology-rich and stylish products that are positioned towards the youth and women. At the same time we always keep in mind the price-sensitive nature of this market. We believe in creating products that are customised for the market, region and customer.

Our ‘made-for-India’ PCs are in line with this belief. HP clearly sees a coverage opportunity here. As the market moves to more broadband penetration or 3G, we see the opportunity to provide more connected products at affordable price-points. We recently tied up with Bharti Airtel to promote broadband and PC penetration here. Under this partnership, Airtel will offer consumers a broadband connection at discounted entry-cost with every HP and Compaq notebook and desktop.

HP has lately been into experiential marketing in a big way. How has it been taken by the market?
Since brand awareness and brand recall of HP notebooks are very high, the challenge is to get users to experience the products by seeing touching and using them. We created ‘experience zones’ where customers could get first-hand experience of our notebooks. Airports are chosen for these since they are one of the best places to reach our target audience. Delhi and Mumbai airports were chosen to set up our kiosks because of the high traffic factor.
Next in this line is the HP EliteBook at a gym in Bangalore under the theme ‘All Muscle, No Fat’. Drawing parallels between the strength and the outer elegance that one is bestowed with while working out at the gym.

All these events have been hugely successful, as they could excite users, since they are based on the insight that the users would like to first touch, feel and see the product before making the final purchase.

Please share the specific marketing campaigns targeted at SME customers?
We have had a slew of activities to communicate with the particular segment. The first being the ‘Computer is personal again’ campaign. This campaign emphasises the vision of a highly individual and personal relationship with the computer, unique for each user. Customers seek more than just better products. The look of the ‘Personal Again’ campaign brings these ideas to life, with iconic images of a hand and head, its ‘handwritten’ type look, and its relaxed, colloquial ad copy. The ‘Total care campaign’ talks about our continued focus on providing complete solutions.

Another popular one is the ‘Hall of Campaign’ showcasing and drawing a parallel between India’s ‘game changers’ and HP’s partnership in the journey towards their success.

How does HP leverage mass media advertising and BTL tools for marketing?
Globally, the advertising industry has seen a steady shift from ATL to BTL and this trend will continue. This year and beyond, BTL will be the focus as it can be effectively measured and directly translated into sales. Since BTL communication is not media dependent there is a much larger scope of being innovative and creative. In the coming years we will see more unconventional forms of BTL communication being introduced. We will also see an increase in the use of the mobile medium as a content delivery tool.

In the current scenario, a communication plan is incomplete if it does not include BTL activities. In addition to one-to-one engagement, BTL media allows marketers to stretch the marketing dollars much farther. The HP Notebooks kiosk activity at the airport is a good example of effective BTL communication.

What are the marketing challenges you foresee in future?
We are already witnessing the rise of the new media– namely the Internet and the mobile phones, the use of which is growing at a rapid pace. In the time to come, it will only increase. As more and more consumers move online, they are expressing themselves and connecting with like-minded individuals across the globe. Thus, the need to monitor the conversations taking place on blogs, YouTube, social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, and in the comments sections of news sites—as well as to respond to them—is creating a new challenge for marketers.

The mobile phones, or the ‘third screen’ is emerging as a lucrative platform for marketers. But the challenge will be to be relevant and not run the risk of invading privacy.

How is HP planning to leverage this surge in online media?  
With more consumers moving online, our aim is to reach and engage them wherever they are. Going forward digital will be extremely critical. Blogs, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter etc represent a wide base where consumers are spread out and come together to discuss every aspect of life. We will have to keep our ears open to gauge what they are thinking and doing and hence mould ourselves accordingly. Experiential marketing will also go a long way in helping the consumer to make the final purchase decision.

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