Smartphones have taken the Indian cellphone market by storm. With yearly growth of 87%, the smartphone is slowly making its way into every household. While international players Samsung and Nokia can claim a significant share of this surge, it is Micromax that is making significant ground in recent times.
Micromax, through its aggressive pricing and calculated compromise on certain features and specifications have made some really attractive mobiles available for the Indian middle class. For example, while a significant number of people are rather allured by the large screen Samsung Galaxy Note, only few can afford its hefty price tag. Micromax offers a much better alternative in the form of Micromax A110 Canvas 2.
Micromax A110 price in India is a little south of Rs 12000 and has some attractive specifications to compare with the Samsung alternative. But with growing Anti-Samsung Ad campaigns and direct specification competition, are Micromax treading on Shaky grounds?
Will Samsung remain silent on the smaller player’s attempts to steal potential customers or will things take an ugly turn?
This post examines Micromax’s marketing strategy and takes a look at its sustainability.
Micromax: The king of Competitive Advertising
For the Indian consumer, Micromax ‘s tongue in cheek approach to Advertising is nothing new, especially in its premium Superfone range of smartphones. In fact, if one takes a look at almost every Ad that Micromax has made featuring its Superfone range; one can see just how blatantly Micromax picks on some of the more prominent smartphone players.
Micromax’s rebellious sojourn began early with its Micromax A70 campaign that mocked the popular iPhone Ad (see image above), simply replacing the iPhone with the sound of throat scratching. While Apple and iPhone were a little too big to be worried by such gimmicks, Micromax’s Ads definitely rang home the message to typical consumers, “You don’t need an “Ahem” to have the smartphone experience”. Micromax has since then gone onto make the Aisha, voice assistant service to compete with Siri.
Micromax has recently come into the public purview with rather humorous take on the Samsung Galaxy Y with the Ads for its popular mid-range smartphones Micromax Ninja 3.5 and Micromax Ninja 4. The “Why Y” campaigns have a hilarious pun that hits hard at Samsung’s earlier campaign for the Samsung Galaxy Y campaign.
The Positive: Brand Attitude
The obvious advantage for Micromax remains the fact that it is a fairly lesser known player and will often be perceived as an Underdog. Everyone loves the Underdog; Fiesty, Determined, Hardworking and definitely appealing to just about everyone.
Micromax will obtain several sympathizers who may see their efforts as being meritorious. Why should someone have to get pay exorbitant rates to get features that can be provided at a margin of its price? It is this message that Micromax repeats almost constantly through its Ad campaigns.
Their products focus on bringing the maximum possible features a particular budget can buy and it is quiet commendable in that aspect. Micromax is out to bang out its international competitors in every way perceivable.
Be it taking the marquee products head on with their own lower priced alternatives or taking on competition in the Ad sphere, Micromax’s new Logo, one of a clenched fist seems apt for this fighting approach.
The Negative: Sue me maybe? The Horlicks Complan Story
Micromax isn’t the first company to think along the lines of hitting straight at the heart of competitor with Ad campaigns. Since time immemorial both Coke and Pepsi have been at loggerheads with each other both on their marquee products as well as on MoutainDew and Sprite commercials.
GlaxoSmithKline and Heinz went on a Blood bath of sorts defaming each other’s health drinks Horlicks and Complan on television campaigns. The story however took a rather ugly turn with both companies suing and counter suing each other. In the end Complan lost its bout and was forced to pull the Ad campaign and pay Rs 2.2 Lakh in damage (judgment here).
The case of Samsung Vs Micromax might be a little different. The Law does state that brands are allowed to pitch their products as better, but cannot directly insult or degrade competitor products.
Micromax’s Ad campaigns may be treading close to a direct attack. It will be curious to see if Samsung bother’s to find any case against Micromax or whether it will take on Micromax in its Ad campaigns. Samsung itself have been taking on its biggest competitor iPhone in its North American Ad campaigns, which may prove detriment for any serious harm for Micromax from Samsung.
For Micromax however, it may be wise to keep a check at just how competitive it plans to get against Samsung in its Ad campaigns.
Drawbacks in Micromax Approach: Lack of Innovation and originality
Micromax may be busy taking on its international competitors by simply making their technology cheaper and more affordable but its approach may endanger the brand in future. While Micromax is a fairly innovative company with some interesting additions to its smartphones, from Gesture control to Voice assistants, it is often the standard specs that are innovated upon.
Micromax has yet to file any significant patent. The company continues to use existing and often out dated processors to produce its affordable smartphones and insists on using design elements that have been used by its international competitors. For them to be taken seriously, Micromax may have to slowly break away from their competitive approach to build on newer technologies and bring in more “firsts” to the Indian market. Micromax has done this significantly in the feature phone segment, but has not yet managed to do so in the smartphone segment. Micromax now needs to emphasize on individual product merit than continue to use popular products as its yard stick.
Micromax is a darling of the Indian middle class and rightly so. Through its ingenuity and frugality, Microsoft has aided in the dissipation of Dual sim technology, Tablet as well as smartphones in the Indian market.
But its approach thus far has been questionable with respect to Advertising and product pitching. Perhaps it’s time for Micromax to build on their own brand value than derive from the brand value of competitors.
It will be interesting to see Micromax’s promotion for Micromax Canvas 2, whether they pitch the product directly against the Samsung Galaxy Note or take a novel approach will define Micromax’s marketing for some time to come.