Feature-based advertising won’t work with tier 2, 3 consumers: itel mobile’s Goldee Patnaik

The head of marketing elaborates on the strategy behind making itel no1 brand in its segment

MUMBAI: Working towards democratising technology in India with its range of sub-5k smartphones with all the latest technology led to itel being named as the number 1 smartphone brand in the less than Rs 5K price segment for offline channels in the Counterpoint Research report for Q3 2019. The brand, which is just three years old in the Indian market recently touched the 5-crore user mark in the growing segment, as well. got in touch with itel business unit head of marketing Goldee Patnaik to understand the strategy that is driving this magnificent growth of the brand, the prime TG for which resides in tier 2 and tier 3 cities.

Patnaik shared that the brand diversifies its target audience in two major chunks—the minimalists, who are feature phone users and are looking towards buying their first smartphone, and the aspirers, the existing smartphone users willing to upgrade to a better version to have an advanced experience.

“In both groups, the aspiration quotient is quite high. They want to look good when holding a mobile. It has become a status symbol,” he elaborated.

The brand is trying to satisfy those aspirations of the new smartphone users who expect to enjoy the experience of HD screens and AI-enabled cameras within their budget.

“The entire brand philosophy is based on democratising tech. For example, our A46 flagship model has a full HD screen, AI dual camera, text translation, etc., all premium features below Rs 5000. We are taking care of the trends and technological advancements at affordable prices,” Patnaik explained.

But the brand is not using these features in its marketing collaterals to drive sales. Patnaik shares the target audience they are catering to do not always understand what the technical terms mean and therefore while creating ads, they focus on the benefits of these technologies.

“Feature-driven communication is of no use. Our current tagline is ‘Har Haath Mein Jaadu’ (magic in each hand). For our consumers, AI is almost like magic. Facial recognition and fingerprint sensor are magical to them. That’s why we market the benefits of these features.”

The brand is focusing on reaching out to the regional audiences in an emotional manner as well. itel is working on a robust localised marketing strategy. They are advertising in 9-10 regional languages including Marathi, Tamil, and Kannada. There is a keen interest in utilising all the regional festivals for promoting the brand.

“At itel, the brand emotional quotient is very high. We invest in a lot of BTL and on-ground activations. We advertise during local festivals and events. For example, earlier this year, during the Kumbh Mela we created watch towers and kiosks. And this was done with not just the intent of branding. It was to help people and avoid stampedes,” Patnaik said.

He added that all the festivals like Pongal, Ganesh Utsav, Bihu, Durga Puja, etc., are opportunities for itel to increase brand awareness as these are the times when people look for good products as well as value deals.

itel is also very particular about its in-showroom experiences and out-of-home on-ground activities. Patnaik notes, “The consumer in our segment doesn’t come to a showroom with a brand or features in his mind. He is completely reliant on the experience. He looks at the models, the packaging, and also trusts the salesperson, maybe. So, it is important for us to maintain a strong presence within the showrooms.”

Another important aspect of itel’s marketing strategy is its focus on sports and entertainment. It was the official sponsor for UP Yoddha in Pro Kabaddi League and has run two successful campaigns on TikTok that collectively gave the brand more than 11 billion video views and helped it reach more than 197 million people. Another campaign on content app Helo led to traffic of 3.5 lakh people landing on the official site within a day.

Patnaik thinks that this is because consumers are attracted to content-driven marketing. “Consumers, irrespective of tiers, are looking out for differential content,” he said.

He is looking forward to using the same trend to the brand’s benefit in the coming year as well. He sees his consumers as the next generation of influencers for itel. The brand will be running more consumer engagement programmes.

Patnaik elaborated, “In 2018 when we came to the market, our messaging was ‘Full Hai Wonderful’ as we were equipping the user with all the latest technology. In 2019, we moved to enable them with ‘Har Haath Mein Jaadu’. In 2020, we are looking forward to moving a step further and give them the ambition to lead the change, use the magic in their hand to express themselves better.”

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