Who is Blackberry’s target consumer right now and how has it changed over the years?
The way we define our target consumer is not basis demographics as much as psychographics. We look at our target audience as consumers who we define as ‘Blackberry people’. What we look for are traits in our consumers and what we’ve found is that a Blackberry consumer is hyper-connected and is always on the move. They look to do more in life.
As a consumer you may have any ambition, which Blackberry helps you complete. An example of it could be winning at work - Blackberry’s e-mail services help you achieve more. Blackberry Messenger helps you fulfill social engagements. They’re not larger than life ambitions, but goals that are to be achieved every day.
What’s the current portfolio like? How is Blackberry looking to evolve?
What we’ve done successfully over the years, is move from an enterprise brand to the youth segment. That is how the brand has grown over the years. Our entire portfolio has Blackberry OS products (Curve, Bold series) which start at Rs 9,500. Then we have the Blackberry 10 platform in which we have the Q10, Z10 and Q5, which starts at Rs 25,000. So if you look at our portfolio, it spans from Rs 9,500 to Rs 45,000. It’s a portfolio which has an offering both from an enterprise segment and a consumer segment. Devices like the Q10 and Q5 are the flagship products currently from an enterprise perspective.
From the Indian perspective, Blackberry remains one of the most coveted brands as far as enterprise e-mail solutions go. From a consumer segment perspective, we have the Curve series. This is for the audience that wants to move into the Blackberry product portfolio. For people who are only looking at social messaging, that’s a very popular phone. For people who want more features, there’s the Q5 for video calling or touch.
We’ve also introduced very attractive EMI offers for the consumer groups to become more affordable across segments. These offers start as low as Rs 850 per month for 12 months. The intent is to make the portfolio more accessible to both the enterprise and consumer segment.
How does the EMI offer distinguish Blackberry from other brands? All the handset providers are currently offering EMIs…
EMIs are offered by everyone. It’s not to drive differentiation, but to make it more affordable. From a market perspective, it is a great leveller.
Across the range does the Curve generate the highest sales? Would you be able to shed market share in the smart phone category?
We don’t give out numbers specific to our product segments, but in the youth segment the Curve series and Blackberry Q5 that are doing very well. The Bold series, Q10 and Z10 do well in the enterprise segment.
The focus that we’ve had as a brand is on value share and not market share. If you look at our portfolio, we are seeing a substantial growth in the value segment.
Isn’t the keypad is what stands out for Blackberry users? The brand has tried entering the full touch screen market with the Storm, Torch, Curve and Z10. What’s been the response?
If you look at reviews of keyboards of Blackberrys, the Z10 is touted as the best virtual keyboard in the market. It has strong features like flick (predicting the next word in the sentence) and the keyboard is extremely intuitive and it learns as you type. The theme that we carry for the keyboard is two kinds of keyboards, one kind of performance. While we have the virtual and Qwerty keyboards, both work extremely well.
But does the keypad remain the USP for Blackberry? Competition seems to have done away with that...
As far as Qwerty keypads go, we call them the ‘Iconic Blackberry’ keyboards. I don’t think there is any other brand or product available that offers the same feel of the Blackberry keyboard. As far as Qwerty is concerned, the category itself is defined by Blackberry.
There are two kinds of segments in the market; some people just love typing using the keypad. We’ve spoken to people who’ve moved on and they speak on the enjoyment of typing on the keypad. The other segment is more of the data users. For them, the touch screen is an important feature. The advent of both the keyboards helps us address both the segments and reach out to a wider audience. Going forward, we’re looking at our virtual keyboards, especially with the Z10 getting people hooked onto its features.
What do you make of Blackberry’s decision to post its Blackberry Messenger service on iOS and Android? What’s the impact you think it’s going to make on sales?
It’s a question that’s often been asked since the announcement. I personally feel that the advent of BBM across platforms will get more and more people back into the platform. The logic for this is very simple. There was a time when BBM was the core reason for buying a Blackberry. People who are using it or were using it vouch for the messenger service even though there are other services around.
A segment of people have moved away from BBM because of the need to be engaged in a larger media group. With BBM opening up, BBM hardware users get their friends who have move on from BB back on their device. People who will start using BBM again, will have an engagement with the brand again and then it’s a matter of time before we can attract them back to our hardware.
It’s going to be an interesting journey for all of us, but I personally seeing a lot of positive brand rub off from this which will help with sales.
Bundled offers – we saw a lot of them earlier. Currently, we’re seeing a lot of them with Apple and Samsung being offered. What’s Blackberry’s plan to be back on this?
What we have done on the data plan specifically is that our Blackberry 10 devices work on different plans compared to our Blackberry OS devices. Plans for our OS device phones (Curve, Bold etc.) start at as low as Rs 129. On 3G plans, all the Blackberry 10 devices work on those plans (one doesn’t need a specific Blackberry plan). So from an operator engagement perspective, we continue to be fairly strongly engaged with them. It’s across local and national engagement forums. Over the next couple of months, there will be campaigns rolling across for bundled plans.
What’s been the response to the ‘Action Starts Here’ campaign? Blackberry seemed to have invested a lot in that campaign...
The campaign was a brand campaign targeted at the Blackberry people. The whole philosophy of the campaign was that to be successful, action has to be taken. Every action leads to a success. It’s kind of a circle that follows. The campaign portrayed people who have been successful in their respective fields. If you look at the brand metrics that came from the campaign, it was successful and positive.
What’s Blackberry’s plan for the festive season? Any campaigns lined up?
We had the Z10 campaign in March. That campaign put out Blackberry 10 as a platform and launched the product.
Subsequent to that we had our Q10 campaign which was print-led. We’re now on the verge of breaking our Q5 campaign featuring Ranbir Kapoor. It should be on air in the next month or two.
Our marketing campaigns are split across a couple of segments and media vehicles. From a segment perspective, we would look at enterprise and consumers as separate segments. From the media perspective, we look at on-ground integration and activation. We participate excessively in road shows and activation days at enterprises that are supported by a fairly strong e-mail/tele-calling campaign. Also, enterprises are fairly well-supported by forums where we interact with key decision makers in the enterprise.
Once in a while, we have ATL (false) covers on financial dailies to support the on-ground activities.
One of the other key segments in enterprise is the consumers who buy their own devices. This spills over to our consumer segment too.
We understand that this segment consists of frequent travelers. Today if you look at the major airports in India (New Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Chennai), we have created marquee properties in all the airports. It’s difficult to enter or exit these airports without looking at the Blackberry branding.
In the consumer segment, for the coming quarter we would be launching one of the biggest social media campaigns. This would break soon, targeted towards 18 to 24 year-olds. We’re inviting people to participate in the campaign and join Ranbir Kapoor in the campaign.
For the season, we’ll be extremely active in retail. A lot of retail has been branded by Ranbir Kapoor creatives for the Blackberry Q5.
The other big element will be digital. We’ll be active on it during our social media campaign. In the mass segment, we’ll be present in print in a big way, on radio and in cinemas.
You spoke about a major digital campaign. How much of the company’s sales are coming from the online space?
We have been fairly actively engaged with the online portals. That’s a segment that will remain extremely robust in terms of sales. Our growth in online sales should be at around 30 to 35 per cent for the next three months.