Nipun Marya, Director-Brand Strategy, Vivo India, leads a brand that has had its fair share of challenges, even as it commands a large market share. Here, Marya talks of his life lessons, what pulling out of IPL 2020 entailed and his quest to sharply define brand purpose
Over your journey of more than a decade, working with consumer technology companies like Samsung, Lava and now Vivo, what are some instances that have stayed with you and gone on to become marketing lessons?
I have learnt three things in the last 10 years. My first and foremost learning is the importance of knowing your consumer. Many a time, we marketers think that we know everything. But in the consumer tech business, technology is changing very fast and so are consumer demands. There is constant pressure and constant evolution, in fact constant revolution in the smartphone category. Therefore, knowing the consumer and how he or she is evolving, is imperative.
My second learning is the importance of having clarity, and it starts from the leader. Only if there’s clarity, can you and the team be productive, effective and efficient. You need clarity about the larger vision, and sometimes clarity about what you have to do today - both task clarity as well as purpose clarity.
My third learning, which I share with my team often, is that the Devil lies in the detail. Sometimes we believe that we’ve done enough, but the more one goes into details, the finer the execution becomes. I read this quote maybe 20 years back, when I was a student, that ideas are like shoulders, everyone has them - it’s the execution which matters.
FASCINATED BY THE PSYCHOLOGY OF SUCCESS
Nipun Marya’s LinkedIn bio says that at any point in time, he has a book or two on his current reading list, and an experiment or two on his life's to-do list. So which is a book that has left a deep impression or given him a motto for life? And what are his current experiments? “Books are my all-time favourite,” declares Marya. “I would single out two that have left a deep impression on me: Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, and Mindset by Carol Dweck. Both books talk about the psychology of success and have really changed my perception of successful people. The psychology of success has really intrigued me, and I have done a fair bit of reading on it. That’s my current stage - maybe 10-15 years later, you may find me reading the Bhagvad Geeta! I have multiple copies of the Bhagvad Geeta, and tried reading it multiple times, but I haven't yet completed it. I believe that you may buy a book, but you will read it only when you’re ready. As far as experiments go, I have started waking up at 5 am almost every day. I had to push myself a little, and now it helps me get a good head start to the day.”
You just launched the #SwitchOff campaign, though it is very unusual for a smartphone brand to tell people to be off their phones! What is your own smartphone experience, and how often do you switch off and take a break from your phone?
I am in the smartphone business, but I am not an avid smartphone user. I’m not somebody hooked to OTT or gaming on the phone. I am a little conscious about picking up hobbies or tasks which can be done without my smartphone. There are a few instances when I have managed to switch off completely. But generally, I try having a good digital balance. Now the days are different, but earlier, if I was back home at 8 pm, then for the next two hours at least, I would barely touch my phone. That is my family time. Post 10 pm or so, once dinner is done, I would perhaps check the phone once before I sleep. The ‘Vivo Smartphones and their Impact on Human Relationships, 2020’ study just strengthens our belief that while technology is evolving, while we have to keep innovating and pushing the boundaries of what a smartphone can do, we also have to keep reminding people that relationships should still be their No. 1 priority.
Talking of IPL, you had to pull out of IPL 2020 title sponsorship this year on the back of anti-Chinese sentiment. How challenging was it for you as a marketer at that point in time, and how do you address the challenges that come your way?
Vivo is a global smartphone brand, though our parent company is from China. We are present in more than 30 countries worldwide and expanding even further. Vivo is also firmly rooted in India, and global in its footprint. Our India commitment is strong, and consumers realize this. As per market research data from GFK, almost for the whole year, Vivo has remained the Number 1 brand in terms of market-share by volume. We are thankful to our consumers because they love our products and appreciate all that we are doing.
So, what will be your priorities over the next one year? How do you plan to steer Band Vivo forward?
People understand that Vivo is a strong brand, and they would love to buy and use our products. But more effort is required to tell people about what Vivo stands for, its brand purpose. The moment I say Vivo, what is one thing which comes to people's mind? That one thing – that one word – we still have to work towards. As one of the custodians of the brand, that's my goal, both internally and externally. In fact, internally first, because I believe brand-building starts and then it reaches consumers. Stronger the brand purpose, stronger you are as a brand.