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Intel’s general manager for the GCC tells Gulf Marketing Review how the chip maker plans to ‘leap ahead’ in marketing.
February 19, 2010 11:04 by Alex Malouf
Walk through any electronic retailer’s floor and it’s easy to see what Nauthoa means. Brochures, posters, and other PoS material from Intel and its partners surround the computers on display with the aim of educating consumers about the technology on offer. Often promoters will be on hand to talk consumers through different products and their usage models.
Recently, Intel has expanded its product line-up with one computer segment that has seen unprecedented growth, despite the difficult economic climate.
UAE retailer Jacky’s Electronics announced in July last year a 40 per cent increase in demand for netbooks for the first six months of 2009 as compared to the previous year – its sales contributed 20 per cent of the company’s total revenue. Nauthoa believes that the success of netbooks is down to not only its pricing point but also Intel’s marketing blitz.
“The netbook category was driven by Intel’s investment in technology.
The idea behind the Atom processor, the chip which created the netbook segment, was to create a device that would connect the next billion users to the internet. Recent history has shown that our strategy has been successful, as netbooks have been bought by people who want a simple device.
“From day one what we tried to do with retailers is to make sure that the positioning of the netbook product was correct. We did a lot of training with retailers on the shop floor. If a customer is coming in to buy a notebook we want them to buy a notebook, so in effect we want a salesperson to guide them as to what type of product they can buy. We want sales to position the products where they should be.
“For notebooks we designed what we call the stars rating campaign, to rate and position products accordingly based on performance and battery life. This rating system does not apply to netbooks. We want to get materials into the hands of customers. Our marketing manager, Shabbab Al-Ghamdi, has done a lot of work online as well in the region. We have been talking to retailers about category management, to position their products accordingly so they can maximize their revenues. If a consumer comes in to buy a notebook for a thousand dollars we want to make sure he spends that,” explains Nauthoa.
In addition to retailers, Intel works with local computer assemblers as well as with global OEMs including the likes of HP, Dell, Toshiba, Lenovo, and Acer. Regionally, Intel’s GCC team is most active with local assemblers, many of whom look to Intel for assistance with marketing and awareness campaigns, as Nauthoa explains.
“We have programmes used by local assemblers to advertise their own products, such as Intel Inside. Our marketing team works with marketing development managers from local assemblers to put campaigns together. These campaigns are a mixture of Intel Inside, marketing development funds for advertising as well as product training to get partners up to speed on every aspect of the market that they are selling to as well as to build their own brand in the local market.”
Intel’s local assembly marketing is complemented by its channel sales organization, which drives demand generation across both business and government sectors through Intel’s distributor and reseller partners. For Nauthoa and the team, the aim is to ensure that customers have all the information they need to understand what Intel’s products can do for them.
“Our marketing approach extends across verticals and horizontals. Our channel sales organization works with distributors on pushing processor and motherboard sales, components rather than end products. We do co-marketing activities with local computer assemblers. Where we directly work with end users is on the government side, as we need to make sure those people are up to date. Intel provides government agencies with roadmaps, training, updates, and we also hold events for them and with them. A recent event that we did in cooperation with a government agency was an oil and gas day in Abu Dhabi, where we met with IT managers to share our product development plans, so they can forward plan their IT spending.”
On the CSR front, Intel’s activities span the Gulf’s higher education sector. A focus on education, including the funding of research projects with universities in Saudi Arabia, allows Intel to position itself as the first point of contact for the youth market as well as drive technology usage among its most important user base.
Speaking to Gulf Marketing Review, Intel’s GCC marketing manager, Shabbab Al-Ghamdi, explained that university students are his most effective evangelists. “We’ve targeted students through road shows, to show them the latest technology and let them try and test what’s new in IT. We’ve also given them offers and discounts. Why? Because we believe in their influence on others. They’re keen to know more and they help us to spread the word.”
While Intel has been the market leader in the processor industry for decades, Nauthoa does admit that the firm has undergone a change in its marketing model, from a company that pushed products to one that wants to engage with the customer on a much broader level.
“Marketing has changed from what we learnt in university. In the days of old, marketing was often supply led. We would make a product and then we’d go out to sell it. Today people have more access to information. With the digital age, social networking users have become content creators. We have become a much more customer-centric company, putting the customer at the centre of everything we do. We do a lot of studies to see what customers are looking for, including regionally. On a local level we want to see and know what opportunities exist for our solutions and make sure that our products are tailored to customer needs.”
The next 12 months will see Nauthoa and his team engage more than ever, as Intel looks to enter into and strengthen its position in an increasing number of product markets, from graphics to solid state hard drives and even the consumer electronics market. The chip manufacturer also supplies many of the world’s smartphone brands with processors, and with the expected rebound of computer sales in 2010 Nauthoa’s aim is to keep hammering home on the education front.
“Globally, Intel launched in January a whole range of products which we’ll be rolling out here this month. We’ve drawn up integrated communications plans for distributors, retailers and local assemblers but we will also be focusing on direct marketing, mainly through educational materials such as PoS and online mass communication. All the data that we have from analysts suggest that the market will pick up this year, and that we’ll see double growth versus last year. We remain bullish and optimistic that 2010 will be one of strong growth, and we’ll have to support those sales through marketing.”
Intel’s biggest marketing campaign over the last three years wasn’t product-led, however. Aimed at promoting the Intel brand and conceived by San Francisco-based agency Venables Bell & Partners, “Sponsors of Tomorrow” launched last year. The ambitious campaign aimed at conveying the message that gigantic advances of the digital age have been made possible by silicon – the key ingredient in microprocessors – and the vast majority of this silicon has come from Intel.
“Sponsors of Tomorrow was our first corporate campaign with adverts online. We aimed at leveraging the campaign locally through PoS as well as through our retailer relationships. We also targeted Gitex with Sponsors of Tomorrow. Moving forward this year, our corporate campaign will have product elements in it. The fundamental message was that all that we do today in terms of technology and more is made possible thanks to Intel. A lot of what we take for granted is due to Intel.”
Last year Intel is estimated to have spent $150 million on master brand adverts and more than $300 million on media planning and buying globally.
Intel does not comment on advertising budgets globally or locally.
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