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Fitting in and reaching out

Hewlett Packard has developed a three-pronged strategy to touch, capture and keep Indian customers, reports Ritu Tripathi.
Hindustan Times | By Ritu Tripathi
UPDATED ON MAR 14, 2008 12:25 AM IST

When the world is your target and every market in the world has its own peculiarities, what do you do? Naturally, make yourself relevant to each marketplace. Work to hold on to existing customers even as you try to break open new segments of customers. Now how much effort and money you put into making yourself relevant in all these ways in a particular market depends on how important that market is to you, right?

Hewlett Packard, which has identified India as one of its most important markets is putting in a good amount of money and effort. The US $104.3 billion company’s VP marketing – personal systems group & SMB business segment, Asia-Pacific and Japan, Dennis Mark, proclaims: “India and China are the two most strategic countries where we are investing.” The company believes it has an edge over competition because it offers “the best portfolio of products” and continuous differentiation in terms of “our superior services and design to local requirements.”

There are three pillars on which the brand’s strategy rests - total customer care, personalisation of the product to suit different customer types, and tapping new customer groups and market segments. As Mark puts it, “The India strategy is about enhancing customer experience, investing heavily in personalised service, teaching the customers and helping them in transition-upgrade. We have a programme called ‘Total Care’. The idea is to build long-term relationships with our current as well as potential customers.”

The company has invested in additional service centres in 400 cities where trained personnel aid the customers to choose the right product(s) to support their requirements. Mark says, “We are also extending this concept to the web, providing our customers with a virtual one-stop shop where all their needs are addressed and they have total freedom of choice.”

Customisation efforts have arisen out of the realisation that “today the customer sees computing as an extension of himself – a computer is a personal attachment,” says Mark. Add this realisation to the business environment where personal nuances and preferences are gaining strength and acceptance today and the ‘The Computer is personal again’ ad campaign by HP was the result. “This theme has been very well received,” asserts Mark.

Adding power to the personalisation effort is HP’s recent ‘Hall of Fame’ ad initiative that targets entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized business persons. It basically highlights and promotes key successful personalities such as Karan Johar and Dilip Chhabria and talks about how HP computing has given them the power to achieve. The brand has extended its product portfolio to cater to this segment.

HP's India Design Centre is an initiative to make localisation relevant enough to matter. Established in 2005 in Bangalore with the aim to “design in India for India” across product built, packaging, chassis modification, data recovery and diagnostics to address the critical causes of product failures, the centre has achieved breakthroughs to enrich the HP Total Care promise.

Another personalisation effort that also attempts to break open a new customer segment is HP’s initiatives to appeal to India’s youth. Mark emphasises, “Youth in India is very aggressive, brimming with optimism. And HP is out to help them. We have a worldwide programme (partnering with MTV), ‘Take Action, Make Art’, that has invited youth across the world to design computer patterns. Youth want to find platforms to express themselves on the web. In this programme, they got an opportunity to vote for the best design and a student from Portugal with the design theme of Asian Odyssey won.” The winning submission is being used in the design of a special edition HP Pavilion notebook PC, available to consumers worldwide now.

A similar localised programme is in place to engage the Indian youth and give them avenues to express themselves. For instance, the recently held HP Toyrama Contest in November 2007, an online competition inspired by the HP xw9400 Workstation, which invited the best digital content creators to create innovative and rich multimedia stop-motion animation starring five toy characters designed by cult toy designer Pele Fowler. In partnership with Dreamworks, this initiative aimed at providing creative professionals the opportunity to bring their imagination to life with workstation computing technology.

Education as a new segment has appealed to the brand. It launched the HP Learning Solution (HPLS) campaign. HPLS is designed as a one-stop solution for all information communication and technology needs of a school – hardware, software, networking, training, maintenance, and financing through one window. This is HP India's first education solution offering 360 degree development modules for children, including aesthetics, painting, animation, website development, software development and online tutorials.

Women too, are seen as a growing segment and HP is developing products to suit their higher style quotient and feminine tastes.

“On the whole,” states Mark, “we plan to extend and enhance our customer experience through outlets, make them more exciting and open more business solution centers where demonstrations will be conducted.” Some outlets will focus on providing customer solution, entertainment, mobility and gaming-customisation to make computing even more personal, differentiated, hassle-free and truly enjoyable.”

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