Ayushi Anand
Feb 24, 2014

Lava looks to dial into premium smartphones

Q&A with Tarun Verma, DGM, Lava International

Lava looks to dial into premium smartphones

Discussing Lava India’s growth and marketing budget, Tarun Verma, DGM, Lava International, underlines the three key pillars, media vehicles for 2014, and the newly launched Smartphone series – Iris Pro.

How was the overall business growth for Lava mobiles in 2013?

This financial year has been pretty good for us and we are expecting the next financial year to be even better. We are expecting a turnover in excess of Rs 2,500 crore for this financial year, with the sales crossing 1.2 million units in the month of January.

In terms of value, this is a growth of more than 100 per cent more than last financial year and similar is the case with volume of handsets.

What is Lava India’s current market share in the smartphone category?

In the smartphone category, the total volume share of Lava currently is about 3.26 per cent. We are targeting a share of 7.1 per cent by the end of May 2014. The overall market share of Lava, including both feature phones and smartphones, stands at 5.5 per cent currently and we are targeting a share of 12.5 per cent by the end of May this year.

How do you plan to increase Lava India’s market share?

So far, we have been pretty successful in the entry-level and the mid-level product category primarily because of strong products and because of our focus on distribution, service, and communication. Going forward, the strategy is to maintain and increase the share in the feature phone and the entry-level smartphone category and to increase our share in the premium smartphone market.

When we talk about increasing our market share in the premium smartphone category, the organisation is focusing on the key pillars that would be required for increasing the market share. For example, the product team is focusing on producing great quality products for the new smartphone category; the service team is working on improving the service level. From the communication and the brand side, we would want to take off from the platform that we have established over the last four years. The associations with KBC and IIFA were the initial steps to uplift the imagery for this new segment of customers.

With the three pillars -- product, service and brand, we feel that we would be able to increase our market share in the overall category, and especially in the smartphone category.

What is the marketing budget for 2014?

For the current financial year, the total marketing budget planned is in excess of Rs 220 crore.

What will be the marketing strategy for 2014? Which media vehicles will be concentrated on, and in what ratio?

In terms of the overall spends that we are looking for this particular financial year, we are looking at an increase of over 100 per cent year-on-year. In terms of the key channels that will be important for us, we have identified three channels that we would be focusing on aggressively. The first is BTL at retail outlets. We feel that we will be doing a lot of aggressive branding at the retail outlets. We had done branding at about 21,000 outlets in the previous financial year and the strategy of focusing on BTL will continue this year. We will be doing an aggressive branding in more than 30,000 outlets in this coming financial year. The second key channel for us will be digital. Digital is emerging as a very strong medium in our category. We have taken some initiatives; we have done some activities in the previous financial year. However, in the coming year, we will be focusing a lot more aggressively on the digital space. The third is on-air presence.

Lava India has recently launched a new smartphone series ‘Iris Pro’. Will it be marketed differently?

We have already spent about Rs 25 to 30-odd crore in promoting Iris Pro and going forward a large percentage of the spend that we have in mind for the next financial year is going into Iris Pro and uplifting the imagery of the overall Lava brand. The philosophy behind Iris Pro is that of 'art meets smart'. When we talk about art meets smart in simple terms, this basically means beautiful ethics combined with great functionality. The origin of this philosophy was in our view a very deep consumer insight which is every individual wants to look beautiful and also intelligent. Now the role of communication is to explain this philosophy to maximum number of consumers. From a communication perspective, we will be doing a 360-degree communication around Iris Pro.

We have done a TVC, we have been doing outdoor activities in the metros. We will be focusing in the retail outlets; we will be doing lot of activities in the digital space. In addition to these, for Iris Pro we will be associating ourselves with some of the premium properties for example we associated with KBC and IIFA. Such associations will continue in this year.

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