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Consumer electronic companies in India: you need a social media strategy today

by on July 18, 2010

India currently has about 71 million Internet users and that number is growing at an impressive 20% every year. Even with those numbers, Indian marketers have a wait-and-see approach when it comes to using social media strategies. The hesitation stems mainly from the lack of quantifiable, measurable ROI that companies want to see before making social media marketing investments. But, with the perfect storm of having an Indian population that’s growing in wealth, the industrialization of rural areas, and having technology-hungry consumers who feed off each other’s passion for the latest innovation, companies that would like to reach young, technologically savvy Indians need to go beyond just exploring to actually using social media strategies.

With the high Internet use coupled with equally impressive mobile Web use, it’s not surprising that one of the few  companies leading the social media marketing charge in India is a cell phone brand.

Samsung is now the fourth technology “buzziest brand” in India, and the top consumer technology brand (beating Apple and just behind Google, Microsoft and Yahoo!). Samsung was able to do this by using a creative social media strategy that taps into what’s driving the boom of Internet use: the technology-savvy, well-networked Indian youth.

When Samsung launched its touch-screen, social media-ready Samsung Corby phone targeted to young consumers, the press dubbed the new product as a “Twitter phone”, highlighting how the company is positioning the Corby model.

Besides using the standard social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Orkut), Samsung launched the “Samsung Corby Colour War” on Twitter as a viral marketing campaign to create buzz and generate excitement within their target audience of young cell phone users. Using Twitter as the main channel, Colour War teams were formed around the five colors of the Corby phone:  black, white, pink, orange and yellow. Each Colour team, led by a social media leader (with hundreds of Facebook, Orkut or Twitter connections), rallied their virtual network of friends to tweet about their Corby colour (e.g. #SamsungCorbyBlack, #SamsungCorbyWhite, etc.) within a 12-day period from November 2-13, 2009. The team leaders that recruited more than 200 unique followers and, through a prize drawing, a couple of people in each of their teams received Corby phones. The team leader with the most followers also received a cash prize.

During the 12-day event, the Samsung Corby phone generated 3,284 tweets–2,853 of which were from the Colour War teams and amplified to 615,000 total exposures through the team members’ network.

With a minimal expense of the phones and the cash prizes totaling about $1,240, Samsung was able to increase brand awareness within their target demographic, build excitement around the new product using viral marketing, and engage the consumers in a fun, entertaining way. Blogs and word-of-mouth marketers hailed Samsung’s Corby Twitter event as one of the Social Media India highlights in 2009.

Companies that are targeting the young electronic goods consumers in India need to take Samsung’s example. High-tech consumer goods companies that are marketing in India such as Apple, Sony and HP need to push for a stronger social media strategy to engage and build brand loyalty. They also have to remember that they can’t stop there. As more companies catch on and start using social media channels, brands such as Samsung need to keep pushing out innovative, creative ways to keep their consumers engaged and loyal to their brand and products.

Although the number of Indian Internet users at 71 million is already impressive, it’s still a small rate of penetration. The number is predicted to raise, especially as the Web and mobile technologies reach the rural areas. Marketers, especially consumer electronic brands that market to the young Indian population, cannot afford to wait and have to add a social media to their marketing strategies today.

From → India

  1. Dave T permalink

    Roela – great commentary. I agree that it’s amazing to see India’s hesitation in the social media realm given the explosion of online usage. Hopefully they learn quickly before it passes them by!

  2. The Samsung campaign that you chose to focus on this week was a very interesting effort and rightly deserves to make the list of one of the best social media efforts from the past year in India. Your conclusion that consumer electronics brands need to do more to take advantage of social media definitely made sense. The opening point you made about Indian marketers wanting to take a “wait and see” approach was one that needed stronger justification, though. It sounds like it would be true, but then you link to a post with social media highlights from 2009 that seems to list plenty of brands willing to try out social media. Are those just the most adventurous brands and did you find discussion elsewhere about brands moving more cautiously? If so, you need to link to that to support your conclusion. At the end of your post, you also list a few brands who could learn from Samsung such as “Apple, Sony and HP.” Whenever you throw out a list like this, you need to be sure that none of these brands are actively doing much with social media (one of your classmates spotlighted HP, for example, as doing some significant work). The idea that Apple might engage in social media (in any country) is probably unlikely given their track record of indifference towards social media, but that doesn’t make your suggestion incorrect. Aside from these small points, a good post. (4)

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