Monday, April 01, 2013


M-Commerce and Samsung

Move over. M-Commerce is here

By Harish Bijoor

Q: What’s this buzz about M-commerce now? Do you see it growing?
-Partha Venkatesh, Vijayawada

A: Partha, M-commerce is the new e-commerce. I am a strong believer in M-commerce and its many platforms of possibilities. This firm belief is however for the tenure that starts 30 months from now. I have been speaking about this for the past two years at fora after fora.

My logic is a simple one. As of today we have a total physical market audience of 1.2 Billion in India. Of this, the virtual market audience today which uses Internet is a total 148 million. Of this, broadband use is a smaller subset.

Let's move to the mobile space then. Here, we are talking a total of 937 million connections. Of this, lets remove duplication numbers in the same common hand to be 180 million. In that case we have unique connections with 757 million people in India. This is a large audience for M-commerce. This number is growing at 8- 9 million per month, The future is therefore bright for commerce that moves on the mobile phone and commerce that can get facilitated on the mobile hand-held device market at large.

Add to this logic point the fact that cheaper than mobile hand-sets’ h devices are slated to make an entry later than sooner over these next 30 months. Aakash is one such. This will make the market possibility boom. M-commerce is therefore an idea whose time will come.
The mobile phone is a 24 X 7 on media. It is closer to all of us than our spouses are. It sits closer to our heart than our spouses do. Physically at least. It is ubiquitous. And best of all it does not fight with you. Not yet. M-commerce is certainly the future. Sadly a slightly more distant future than what M-commerce oriented companies will have you and want you to believe.

Q: Are Below-the-line spends growing in recent quarters, as compared to Above-the-line spends? If so, why?

-Pratima Moorthy, Mumbai

A: Prathima, bang on. This is absolutely what is happening in many categories. The lead categoreis in this trend are really the consumer durables, cosmetics, and the motorized two-wheeler segment. 
The fact remains that times are tough. Growth has plateaued at large. The macro numbers are not looking exciting. We are a sales economy spoilt by a 8.5 per cent GDP growth rate mindset, and as a marketing economy, we have believed in spending ahead of the curve in the years gone by. Not anymore. There is a change in mindset among marketers. There is a clear and perceptible shift of budgets from ATL to BTL.

In many ways, if ATL represents theme, and the ability to build brand image, BTL represents sales and the ability to build immediate revenue requirements. In tough times, cash flow is an immediate imperative. Cash flow is like blood flow in the human body. If there is a slowdown or cessation, the body at large suffers. Marketers today understand it better than in any time-period gone by. Marketers are pitting their big bucks on BTL. Money is certainly moving from theme to scheme.
I see this tendency starting first with the big ones who advertise the most. This tendency is yet to bite the smaller players in the market, but expect it to happen.

Q: Samsung seems to have come in from nowhere, but it is certainly capturing the imagination of consumers in the space of televisions, durables and mobile phones. How did they do it?
-Parag Arora, New Delhi

A: Parag, today is the day and age of convergence. Add to it the fact that the consumer is looking for technology that is human friendly, technology that is seamless in its delivery, technology that makes lives happen, and technology that is not a part of the "bells and whistles" fraternity of products, but technology that touches lives every day with meaning. Samsung has been successful in offering this, a little ahead of the curve. A few months ahead of the consumer actually articulating this need and want and desire. In fact Samsung has been the expert at delivering not only need and want, but desire and aspiration as well.
Ahead of the consumer articulating its need. That's the Samsung winning formula according to me.

Add to it the fact that Samsung is ubiquitous in its presence across segments. This is a big plus in a market like India. Samsung further dominates across categories. I think Samsung is the only company in this space that has also occupied every screen of our imagination. The company is in large format projections systems, in television sets, in desktops, in laptops, and in mobile phones. These are the many screens that hold relevance to our lives today. Samsung is therefore the only multi-screen entity in the country. Also, this screen is bound to find its way into durables of every kind as well. Onto refrigerators with a screen, onto washing machines with screens and more! Samsung is yours and mine, every-screen company!

I think they have played the Indian market well, and therefore they deserve the space they occupy. Consumers are very fair to companies that are fair to them.

Harish Bijoor is a business strategy specialist and CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc.

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