In your own words, how do you describe a ‘hot’ brand?

A ‘hot’ brand is often found in the consumer retail space, and characterized by high recall, demand and sales, and usually, easy availability. It is associated with unique selling points that connect with the end-user, who is drawn towards the brand for its features, style quotient, popularity etc. In my mind a hot brand is something that solves an essential need of the consumers while establishing a strong emotional connect with them.

What can be few steps taken by brand owners to keep their brand stay top in their customers’ mind?

The popularity of a brand is directly linked to its effectiveness in telling its story, and in creating the consumer connect. We live in an era where the market is bombarded with innumerous products within each category, and each product equipped with similar features. It becomes a challenge to find a place in the customer’s heart.

It is imperative for the brand’s marketing campaign to be aligned to the business objectives, and this campaign typically encompasses direct advertising, PR, outdoor activation and social media. What gives any brand its edge is the quality of dialogue it engages its customers in; that quality is achievable if the conversation is in line with the brand’s business goals. Emotions stimulate the mind faster than the rational thoughts, so it’s no longer about ‘just another buy’, but a relationship with the brand. The idea is that you are able to tell a compelling brand story in many different ways while continuing to maintain consistency in messaging. For instance, at Intel, we realized that women are the future torch bearers in the technology sector; Our research told us that women in India across ages believe innovations will drive better education (59 percent), transportation (49 percent), work (45 percent) and healthcare (46 percent). Last year we launched the Intel® Easy Steps in association with Kudumbashree which aims to make women in Kerala, digitally literate, by providing functional and need based resource support. This is a strong relationship that we’ve built and will continue to strengthen because we believe that women are an important audience for technology penetration in the country.

Realizing the future of 1-to-1 communication: Targeted Advertising is Smart Marketing?

Every brand wants to reach out to its consumers because recall is often related to purchase decisions. We live in a technologically advanced world, where social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest etc. are changing the way that brands reach out to, and communicate with consumers, and even business partners; even one ‘like’ or ‘comment’ matters. In that sense, targeted advertising is smart marketing. The new world of marketing is using online and offline tools to create personalized experiences for different stakeholders – influencers, consumers, business partners, and potential customers. Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn give business and industry insights, and are also leveraged as platforms to bridge the gap of brand understanding. Today, there are a few brands that target, and even fewer instances when, mass media advertisements are released to blindly target the key audiences. One of our more recent campaigns was to bring to life Intel’s brand proposition of ‘Look Inside’ by telling a story like in the case of India we told the story of Dharavi through the eyes of two boys who live inside Dharavi. The idea here was to tell users that it’s what inside that matters and we chose to release this film only online because it helped us reach the consumers with an emotional connect and strike a conversation versus just giving them a quick exposure to the brand.

New Rules of Engagement: Changing Expectations of Brand+Customer Interactions, your view vis-a-vis your own brand?

From a time when consumers were largely complacent about products and services they bought, to today, the Indian customer has changed, as have their expectations. Today, the end-user is well-aware of what to expect from their purchase, owing to the plethora of information available to them, real-time, in the online and offline realms. With the advent of many international brands in the Indian market, and the global expansion of local brands, the consumer expectation of a brand has increased significantly.

Intel has worked with its customers in the Indian market for several years, and even though our business is not consumer facing, we ensure that the retail sales people from our OEM ecosystem (Hewlett-Packard, ASUS, amongst others) are well-trained by us to engage in meaningful conversations with gadget enthusiasts. The truth is that in today’s highly competitive marketplace, if you do not take care of your consumers, somebody else will, so as a brand, we always strive to be proactive in our communication. While we engage with our offline customers through tech experts, and hands-on experience on Intel Inside devices, we leverage social media platforms for direct engagement with end-users of our technology. One of Intel India’s flagship program is called ‘My Discoveries’ and it aims with the aim of creating awareness on the benefits of a PC for every user. We put forth specially built experience zones where the consumers could experience the devices and ascertain according to their preferences and needs which computing device suited them the best. Targeted at young Indians, this program helped us reach out to over 5 million youth and give them an experience of computing devices are the center of their digital world.

Any brand experience recently that wowed you?

There have been a variety of examples that primarily use the medium effectively to tell the story. One of the recent examples that comes to mind is MCL Cinema video that went viral across the world. To me this was a great example of delivering a very important social message of driving safely in a very impactful way. While the activity itself was done only in Hong Kong, the impact that it had on audiences the world over was very significant.

Profile: Sandeep Aurora is the Director – Marketing & Market Development, Intel South Asia and is responsible for defining market growth strategies and brand strategies for all of Intel’s products and technologies in the South Asia region. Sandeep is an industry veteran with over 20 years of work experience and has been with Intel for over 16 years. He is currently responsible for Intel’s initiatives for market expansion while driving relevance and preference of the Intel brand. Sandeep worked with HCL for six years before joining Intel.

Sandeep has a Bachelor’s degree in Science from Delhi University and a Master’s degree in Management from IMT, Ghaziabad. Sandeep has been a Member of the Executive council at MAIT (Manufacturer’s Association of the IT Industry) where he also heads the Market Acceleration Committee. Sandeep has also been recognized as one of the top 50 CMOs in India by the World Brand Congress in 2013.

Sandeep Aurora is also a Speaker at Paul Writer’s Futurist Marketing Conclave.

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