Tencent’s recently launched two television commercials featuring Bollywood actors Varun Dhawan and Parineeti Chopra for its app Wechat Messenger. The campaign highlights the features offered by Wechat including group messaging and voice chat. Campaign India caught up with Rahul Razdan, head, Tencent India, for more on Wechat’s journey in India so far, customisation for Indian audiences, its USP, and the road ahead.
When did you actually launch in India? What have been the learnings?
We had a soft launch in the second half of last year with the intent of understanding the market, studying user behaviour and trying to figure out core motivations for Indian users. We learnt that the voice messaging offered by Wechat has appealed greatly to the Indian audiences. This was attributed to the ease of sending such messages and the fact that many of us speak a mix of languages and dialects which in turn is very tedious to type on phones. From our interactions with people, we learnt that this feature seemed to be solving their problems the best and so we decided to promote it as a key feature and amplified it a lot in our communication.
Another point was that we also invested a lot in changing perception towards Wechat. There was a perception that since it was voice messaging, so it would require heavy bandwidth. But this is not true. We invested a lot in educating people that it works fine on 2G as well.
How has the adoption been?
The first phase of our launch was about understanding user behaviour and learning from them. We did not focus on customer acquisition but once we have our platform in place we will do so now. Globally, we have crossed 300 million users. In India, we have done a five-fold growth even before the TVC went on air (on 10 May).
Is there any customisation done for the Indian market?
We decided to provide the interface in Hindi and thus the entire Wechat is available in Hindi. Secondly, we introduced special emoticons keeping the Indian context in mind, like those for Indian festivals. Then, a few months back, we launched on the Blackberry platform and soon we will be on the Nokia Asha S40 platform. We did this as we realised the significant presence of these platforms amongst Indian users. We have also introduced official accounts on our platform (Wechat) which provide an opportunity for brands, celebrities, merchants to directly engage with people on a medium that users are using the most i.e. smart phones. We have enabled six brands (CCD, Tradus, Goibibo, Big Bazaar, Yahoo Cricket, Santa Banta) to reach out to users so far.
What is the USP of Wechat?
Voice messaging is the single most talked about part of our offering. The way we have our social interaction happening through a feature called ‘moments’ is also receiving great feedback. Lastly, we have integrated with the product location-based features. For example, if I am in Gurgaon, then I can locate my friends who also happen to be in the vicinity. There will be more location-based features that will be introduced in the future.
Where do you see the brand headed in the near future in India?
We are looking forward to leadership position in this space. We are already the most downloaded app in India on Android Google Play store and on the Apple IoS store. This is the first ratification of our appeal to users. We have been receiving very encouraging responses.
According to analysts the smart phone market in India is going to witness an exponential growth in the near future. The sheer velocity of growth in the market makes it an exciting market for us as there will be so many people who will be embracing the smart phones in future. We look forward to being a part of the market and we see ourselves growing exponentially as well.
Also read: Wechat woos youth with voice, video messages