Lenovo plans branding push

10 January 2012

BEIJING: Lenovo, the IT group, is ramping up efforts to engage young consumers around the world, in recognition of the fact its branding performance must "catch up" with other core business metrics.

The firm, which bought IBM's hardware arm in 2004, leads the Chinese PC category and has rapidly progressed in certain sectors internationally; its ThinkPad devices, for example, have been especially popular with corporate clients.

IDC, the insights provider, also showed in its latest quarterly figures that Lenovo's global PC shipments had reached 12.8m units, a 36.1% lift year on year, and thus beating Dell and Acer to take second position behind HP, on 16.7m units.

However, despite this evident success, unlike its major rivals, Lenovo is not a fixture in the annual brand value rankings such as those compiled by Interbrand, the consultancy.

"The business is way ahead of the brand," David Roman, Lenovo's chief marketing officer, told Advertising Age.

"We're number two in the industry; yet outside of key countries like China and India, and outside of key markets like industrial, the brand is not well-known … There is a tremendous opportunity for the brand to catch up."

Enhancing its credentials in this area is among Lenovo's top three corporate goals, and it has established an international team of 15 staff handling activities like social media, design, branded content, retail, events and partnerships.

Lenovo has a global tagline, "For those who do", and is placing particular emphasis on attracting 18–35 year olds, working with allies from Google and YouTube to MTV and Southwest Airlines.

"When we look at the consumer space and who determines brands there, it's the youth market," Roman said. "They decide who's hip and who's not, who's cool and who's not from a brand perspective.

"The youth market is very consistent around the world. A college student in Beijing has more in common with a college student in New York than he does with his parents in Beijing."

Lenovo's recent initiatives have included online contests in Latin America, celebrity endorsements in Japan, building networks of "doers" in India and Russia, and combining high-profile ads with sponsorship and bespoke digital content in the US.

"We're still in the early stages, but it's a good beginning," said Roman. "And because the business is doing so well, we don't have some of the short-term pressures that marketing sometimes feels."

Data sourced from Advertising Age; additional content by Warc staff