Start up – Its either the brand or you!

I have been a start-up man almost all my life!

I have always wanted to work with a great brand and on cutting edge (cliché?) brand management work using every tool required under the sun. But I have always been in places which have either been start-ups or functioned like one! They were either new branches or new brands itself. And after almost fifteen years, I believe that even big brands must behave like start-ups.

However, the view that I seem to be (harboring at least for now) is that smaller brands actually end up doing more work than the larger ones. ‘Cutting edge’, ‘razor sharp’… however you would want to term it, I believe that a start up brand has a larger potential for great work than some of the big brands today. I am trying to view this from the point of view of a mobile manufacturer. Micromax.

I am unsure if I would have taken an offer from a nondescript Micromax a couple of years back (even if they had!). Honestly, I was and am still in awe of Nokia. For the user-friendliness and for product quality, I was sold on a Nokia mobile since my early mobile days. I am so in awe of Nokia that I must say I am blinded. But today, Micromax is a household name. Not just because of the size it has reached and is proving to be a huge thorn in the big boys’ feet, but because of the body of work they have done in such a short period. Let me look at it again from the classic 4P angle:

  • Appreciable Product Features. Played well on the strengths of mass production, this brand has proved to be the pioneer in being the ‘cheap alternative’ to the expensive Nokia, Samsung and Sony Ericsson phones. You would get almost all that you would need in a Micromax – starting from video streaming to social media enablers. The phones come with almost all the features of a fully loaded smartphone with GPRS capabilities.
    The various aspects of product development have been managed well to the fore. This include:
    • Features
    • Stability of the software
    • Battery life
    • Design – look & feel
    • Packaging
    • Versatility of the technology
  • Fantastic pricing strategy
    While I have always been a fan of Nokia I have always held a grudge against the brand. You will never get all features in a single Nokia phone and the one that has it will be so highly priced that you can’t think of it.
    But Micromax beat the big brother phone makers by just pulling the carpet from under their legs. You now get a fully loaded Micromax Q7 for less than Rs.5000/-. To get all these features and have the Nokia brand on the phone would cost you a cool 16000/-+. Now I am not surprised when I wanted a ‘second phone’ just for social networking reasons, I thought of a Micromax. I will make the plunge pretty soon I guess! 🙂
  • Placement. I was amazed when I walked to a small time phone vendors store yesterday to ‘check out’ a Micromax. There were in all 2 Nokia models, few Samsung Guru phones, couple of LG models and the rest being Micromax. On questioning, the vendor nonchalantly answered: “I stock what sells”. But the fact remains that the distribution team has gone to maddening lengths to ensure availability of their brand in the smallest of small stores. With a couple of models at the sub INR1000 levels, the brand is clearly amongst the largest selling and is contributing greatly to the telecom expansion in this country. I have visited in the last few weeks many commonplace stores across Mumbai not with the intention of performing a research, but just observing. And I do find that many of these second rung stores stock Micromax in good numbers. I am actually wondering why they don’t have ‘priority stores’ as yet. Maybe soon!
  • I am not a great fan of their advertisements (Promotion), but…
    I do believe that they have a great advertising sense. Their sensitivity to the target audience is very appreciable. With all due respects, the stupid laugh of Akshay Kumar still rings in my ears and will continue to do so for a while to come. Their boy walking while watching a live video and falling of the stairs is not a great ad either, but I am sure it will certainly be appreciated by the masses who want to be entertained. In the process, the consumer remembers the brand name. Job done! Even the ‘Oh! So expensive looking’ Micromax Bling TV commercials are based on slapstick. Very Akshay Kumarish, performed by Mrs. Akshay Kumar. But the brand’s irreverence and aggressiveness comes out blatantly.
    Another killer deal by Micromax is the deal with the BCCI. Whoa! THAT WAS A KILLER. Suddenly out of nowhere, you had a Micromax cup by BCCI. Kudos Mr. Vikas Jain.

Classic marketing principles executed with finesse and conviction can still spell success. Now, do you really need a big brand to work on?

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