Samsung has just released its Galaxy M series of devices in the Indian market. And one word that has been leaping out from numerous communications from the company again is: millennials. Samsung insists that the M series of devices is targeted at the millennials of the country. And as rationale for this, the company points out that this section comprises 34 percent of the population and influences nearly half of all online purchases made in India.
Now, that strategy might sound like excellent marketing – a clearly defined target audience and so on and so forth. But accuse me of being an old fogey (I am SO guilty of not being a millennial) but I have a feeling that it is just that – marketing spiel, or talk. Do not get me wrong – I am all for focused marketing and I know that many people claim that the millennial segment is a crucial one. It is just that I do not think that this segment is where the battle for the M series is going to be. And it would be naive to assume that a company as experienced and skilled as Samsung doesn’t know it!
For, let’s be brutally honest – the M series’ main rival is going to be Xiaomi. Or more specially Xiaomi’s Redmi and Redmi Note series that have been bestsellers over the past year or so, making Xiaomi the number one smartphone brand in the country. Now, cast an eye on the audience Xiaomi has been targeting with these devices. Was it the millennials? Not really. If anything, Xiaomi’s communications strategy for the Redmi Note series (the “Kiska Baja” campaign) has focused on the sheer universality of the devices – the fact that anyone could use them, so everyone did. The star brand in the market right now is targeting just about everyone in the market rather than a third of it, and while it might not sound as fancy shmancy as going after millennials, it is infinitely better math.
It is also better math because frankly, “millennials” themselves are so difficult to define, let alone cater to. Who exactly is a millennial? The Cambridge Dictionary defines the term as someone born in the eighties, nineties or the early 2000s. Going by that definition, everyone in the age group of 17-35 is actually a millennial (technically, Roger Federer and MS Dhoni are close to being millennials!). So basically, this is a group that comprises everyone from a person entering college to a mid-level executive. Now imagine trying to make a product for an audience that diverse. Truth be told, I suspect that for most brands, “millennials” are synonymous with people either in college or in the early years of their profession. A sort of fancy synonym for – cliche alert- “the young and the restless.”
There will of course be those who will say that targeting a certain age group can work. Former OPPO brand Realme has shown us that it can – the brand literally came out of nowhere to claim a significant market share on the shoulders of a campaign that was focused on the young. And before that, Huawei’s sub-brand Honor too scored on a very young sounding “Honor the Brave” campaign. However, it is also very significant that in both cases, both brands also came out with products that delivered staggering value for money – a prerequisite for surviving in the sub-Rs 15,000 market segment. Would the “young” branding have worked on devices which delivered relatively lesser value? I am not so sure, as Honor’s own struggles at higher price points have shown.
There is also a downside to targeting specific groups with a product – you can end up unintentionally excluding others. And when the others comprise a majority of the population, that becomes a bit of a luxury. A luxury which few can afford at lower price points. There is always room for niche products, but in smartphones and indeed in many products, the size of target segments generally tends to vary inversely with the price of a product. The more expensive a product gets, the more focused and often smaller its target segment is. The Moto Razr and iPhone were not targeted at everyone but at tiny niches.
Samsung’s M series is firmly mid-segment with a broad rather than narrow appeal. So why would Samsung position a product that just about everyone would be interested in as one targeted at one-third of the population? I strongly suspect that this is because it, well, sounds cool. No, I do not know how Samsung defines a millennial. But going by what we have heard so far in their public statements, these are people who demand great power and performance from their devices and use a lot of technology, and do not like steep prices. They like to play games. They use their phones a lot, so want good battery. They love good cameras and take lots of selfies.
Sounds like a millennial?
Well, honestly, sounds like anybody.
Sounds like my 70-year old mum actually.
Hey, no one wants an under powered device , do they? And everyone loves good cameras! And a good price is very welcome in almost every home.
Which is why I am telling you: forget what the presentation says, forget the statistics that are trotted out – the Galaxy M series from Samsung is targeted at the mainstream user.
Oh and at Xiaomi too.
Photos by Raj Rout