Customer doesn't know best

Last Updated 16 September 2012, 16:09 IST

Twenty-five-year-old Shruti Sharma from Ajmer  who wanted to buy a computer, spent little time deciding on the hardware.

Thanks to media advertisements indicating that consumers in her income group would need mid-range notebooks, she understood her computing needs and avoided buying a desktop or ultrabook.

This is the result of companies trying to segmentise the market in line with the computing needs of people and thus creating niche demand across these segments.

Segmentisation is all about classifying the market into certain groups from a larger market perspective. This helps companies achieve better positioning and visibility, creating a distinct perception in the minds of consumers regarding what they actually want.

Large corporations are doing this to get a bigger slice of the Indian consumer market.
The process not only improves efficiency but also reduces the effort a firm needs to put in to market a certain product through targeted media onslaughts.

Gone are the days when one would buy a personal computer or a desktop computer for the entire family when today people have more than one computer at home.

“From Dell’s standpoint, there has been an evolution in the way customers use their devices. Indian consumers today are abreast of global trends and as tech-savvy as consumers anywhere in the world.

As we move from customisation to personalisation and self-expression, we have also seen clear segments emerging from both user perspective and form factor points of view,” says Dell India Director of Product Marketing Shishir Singh.

At a time when PC sales have gown 17 per cent to 2.9 million units in the June 2012 quarter, according to a Gartner report, personal computer makers are going for the market with a will.

With the introduction of Intel-backed ultrabooks, these firms are bullish that as and when an ecosystem is created, customers will buy more high-end computing devices chiefly designed for people who travel a lot and need better battery backup.

The ultrabook revolution, an attempt inspired by MacBook Air, is being driven by Intel, which is also working with Microsoft to tweak Windows 7 and optimise its performance in ultrabooks.

According to Dell, it has adopted the customer segmented approach which identifies certain types of products for different customer segments based on their usage needs.

This goes beyond the conventional market classification of Consumer, SMB, Enterprise and Public, to the different customer categories within these markets and how technology can address their specific needs. Dell also offers dedicated product solutions catering to consumer segments like GenY, families with children, young professionals or avid gamers.

Almost all companies have launched ultrabooks packed with second and third generation Intel processors, flaunting a super slim body and solid state drives. Though ultrabooks have premium pricing, industry experts opine that when prices of solid state drives fall, ultrabooks will become more affordable.

“Currently the Ultrabook is positioned as ideal for working professionals who require high performance computing in a highly mobile and portable device. One of the important growth drivers we see affecting ultrabooks is BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) or consumerisation of IT in the workplace,” says Dell’s Singh.

According to Lenovo India Director (Consumer Business Segment) Rajesh Thadani, the consumer business segment is growing pretty well for the company and the ultrabook segment is still to yield volumes as the ecosystem around the new product is in "setting up mode".

“Products are clearly segmented towards buyers and ultrabooks are targeted at travel frenzy people,” Thadani adds.

For Hewlett-Packard, Elitebook is the new age ultralight computer targeted at the business class. HP recently launched its Elitebook 2170p in India at a starting price of Rs 69,000, claiming a battery life of up to 8 hours.

Taking this a step forward, companies are running advertisement campaigns for various segments targeting different customer profiles. Ultrabook advertisements are carving out their spaces in airports where they are more likely to be noticed by potential buyers like travelling businessmen and the ubiquitous road warrior.

Ultra low-cost segment

High-end laptops are not the only ones trying to segmentise the market. Laptops priced at as low as Rs 5,000 are sprouting up, targeting people who can ill-afford costly computers.

In June, UK-based computer brand ACi launched an ultra-low cost laptop in India for Rs 4,999 and hopes to sell 2 lakh units in the first year. The company said at the launch that the laptops will be targeted primarily at government schools.

SMB segment

Like other players, even Acer is ramping up its marketing section to reap the benefits of an evergrowing SMB space in India. The company revisited its SMB strategy in the fourth quarter of 2011 as it felt the need to understand the market deeper. "We have identified 14 locations, where Acer employees addressing the market directly," Acer India Senior Director Sales Jeganath says.

Each of the 14 people in these locations will own 150 SMB accounts to create brand visibility and boost sales. “Even though India has close to 40 million SMBs, their information technology spends and consequently IT adoption, are low owing to industry-specific solutions not being available. That is what we are targeting to build."

The company is ramping up its partner base to extend its reach to smaller towns. Says Jeganath, “Partners should be spread across the state.” Customers nowadays no longer want to spend too much time in thinking what would suit their demand.

They rather be told what would be the best for them. That is the mindset companies are going after, producing ad campaigns that tell you which product you would be happy with. Now it’s up to you to accept one proposal and reject another.

(Published 16 September 2012, 16:09 IST)

Follow us on