Currently, Micromax is associated mainly with feature-rich, low-cost smartphones. To build on this image, certain strategies need to be adopted.
Instead of aiming at a global target audience, it would be wiser for the company to target groups with high potential and engage with them. The demand for smartphones is on the rise. The industry is in the growth phase, as far as the Indian market is concerned. With a population of over 1.3 billion people, only around 16 per cent — around 210 million— are smartphone users. To know which direction to go in, the company should aim at groups that will be part of this growth.
Centennials or Gen Z
Reposition its new identity as a trendy, but pocket-friendly brand
~ Reposition the name to reflect a chic, face-of-the-youth brand, instead of sticking to the value-for-money rhetoric. Create a new identity that is young and energetic.
~ To achieve this, increase customer engagement through contests in colleges, sponsorship of tech fests, comic cons, special offers for those with student IDs and other such activities.
~ India has a 20 million large student pool that can be tapped. First-time mobile buyers, who are about to enter high school — aged between 14 and 16 — can be specifically targeted.
~ This team needs to add more apps and features keeping students in mind. Pre-loaded features such as easy recharge apps and scientific calculators are some examples.
Diversify — hip and affordable smartwatches, laptop and mobile accessories : This is another area which can be tapped to rope in younger customers. Here’s what the team at Micromax must do to make the most of this customer segment.
~ Develop hip but affordable smartwatches that become a style statement of sorts for the youth. Diversifying into accessories like speakers, power-banks, headphones, even gaming consoles, is an option the company can look at. Focus on students, keeping their wallet sizes in mind.
~ This trend can also be extended to other appliances like LED TVs. Target young couples who are setting up a home for the first time.
Reduce the number of product lines under the mobile phone category
~ Have few but well differentiated models with clearly distinct features and price ranges. Example, one model can be priced at ₹2,500, one at ₹5,000, another at ₹7,000 and at ₹10,000.
Get more effective online: Make the most of internet
~ Make the e-commerce site accessible and user-friendly. One of three smartphones are purchased online. Make the most of the opportunity to convert this statistic into a Micromax purchase.
~ Run more online offers — get bloggers to review the product before the launch, or make an exclusive online launch.
~ Pay more attention to Facebook and Twitter complaints. This means always replying to them, even if it is with a redirection message to a site or a toll-free number.
Rural and Tier 3 cities
Potential in Tier 3 — Customer segment that wants to upgrade from feature phones to smartphones.
Potential in rural areas — Upgrade from basic phone to smartphone
Following are the needs of this consumer segment:
Availability of affordable devices and services
Though a few telecom players are looking to penetrate this segment to provide data services, they haven’t been able to realise its full potential due to high costs. To target this segment, the pitch can also be based on a vernacular language keyboard.
Other major steps
~ Educate consumers about the benefits of smartphones in their day-to-day life and change its image from being a luxury to a necessity.
~ Manufacture affordable 4G phones tailored specifically for this segment.
~ Tie up with service providers for access to low-cost internet facilities. This will enable consumers of this segment to experience smartphones fully, thereby expanding the customer base.
~ Extend the software suite to include practical apps in regional languages.
Hiring and retaining top management
Another problem many companies face is that of good, top-rung employees leaving. Possible reasons for attrition could be:
~ Too much interference from promoters
~ Lack of freedom or space when it comes to decision making
The way forward
~ Use third party feedback to find out why they left the firm .
~ Bring in external professionals and team them up with executives who have stuck with the organisation for over a period. This way, neither new ideas nor the underlying spirit of Micromax would be lost.
~ Give the hired professionals company stock options to increase a sense of belonging to the firm.
~ Promoters should take a back seat and give more independence to top executives and managers.
(The second runners-up are doing PGPM (Marketing) at the Great Lakes Institute of Management, Chennai.)