Brands adapt in India

07 April 2011

NEW DELHI: Companies such as Lenovo, Renault and Yum Brands are adopting new innovation models to boost sales in India.

Lenovo's global marketing is now coordinated from Bangalore, at a site that began life organising back-end office tasks, but currently boasts 150 staff.

"The traditional way of doing marketing was taking up precious dollars and the idea to decentralise the function took root," Ajay Kaul, Lenovo's executive director, worldwide marketing services, told the Economic Times.

"We will be launching a master brand campaign across the globe soon, so the guidelines for creative work, tactics for local adoption, brochures, direct mailers, microsites, websites everything will be done from here."

Kaul added: "The local markets can then take the prototype and adapt it to the local market before rolling it out."

Other duties fulfilled in Bangalore include software development, consumer research and analytics, serving a useful purpose on a number of fronts.

"The data helps us understand where the marketing dollar is effective and where are the leaks," Kaul said.

Another group employed at this base liaises with Lenovo's three main marketing allies: Microsoft, Intel and AMD.

"A lot of marketing activity that we do is funded by these partners; in some cases the funding can go upto 100%," said Ravikumar Srinivasan, leader of this alliance compliance team.

"We put the money in the market and then go back and claim it from them … If there is lack of compliance then we don't get the money and it results in losses."

Automaker Renault established an R&D centre, one of six worldwide, in India during 2008. Originally, the firm believed it would take the centre around three years to fully make a mark on business operations.

Having already unveiled its Logan model, the firm plans to introduce the 838 sedan and H45 four-by-four, both aimed at affluent shoppers.

"Even though we haven't had anything to show for the past three years, we hope that our work will show in the next two years," said Jean-Phillipe Salar, the chief designer for Renault in India.

Three mass-market offerings could hit the market in 2012, as Renault endeavours to meet the distinctive demands of Indian drivers.

"Each market has its own needs and that's why Renault has set up a design studio in India - to be able to give the right product for the right market," Salar argued.

"At the moment the brand is not well known. But, we want to write our story through our product."

But vehicles developed in the Asian nation may be exported overseas, as all Renault's R&D hubs receive a statement detailing broad requirements, and compete to deliver the preferred proposal.

"The design that is the best - the one closest to the brief - is chosen and that is used globally," said Salar.

Yum Brands, the parent of KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut, has constructed a Food and Innovation Technology Centre in Gurgaon, responsible for creating original formulas, ingredients and menus options.

The company holds biannual "innovation days", alongside "cook offs" to explore ideas, with the best suggestions then being trialled in restaurants.

"This gives an advantage of nimbleness and bandwidth, as against say an FMCG brand, which cannot do controlled tests in a similar manner," said Sandeep Kataria, chief marketing officer, Yum Restaurants India.

Data sourced from Economic Times; additional content by Warc staff