New Delhi: Up until six years ago, Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos intended to let his flagship product Kindle speak for itself. “Advertising is the price you pay for having an unremarkable product or service,” Bezos was cited as saying at a shareholder meeting in Seattle in 2009.
Over the years, Kindle, Amazon’s e-reader, took to advertising across markets and India has been no different. People close to Kindle’s ad campaign here say India is an important market for the company where the product requires a sales push.
In its latest campaign on television, Amazon features popular authors Amish and Ashwin Sanghi, who talk about their love for reading and share their experiences on moving to e-books. In their testimonials, the writers highlight the features of Kindle.
“The objective of the ad is to build a connect with the readers. After creating intrigue and emotional connect with our first ad, we now wanted to differentiate Kindle from other devices,” said Manish Kalra, integrated marketing head at Amazon. “The advertisements are really working for us and we are getting good feedback,” he added.
The campaign is targeted at audiences in big cities with its English language ads being aired on English news, infotainment and entertainment channels such as Star World. “We may choose to go mass media and broaden the reach once more awareness and more demand is there,” said Kalra. The campaign has been created in-house by Amazon and will be on air till mid-July.
“India is a huge market. Customers in the metro cities are aware of the product but if you go deeper, there is a need to educate the consumers about the product,” Kalra said.
According to media buyer estimates, Amazon has spent anywhere between Rs.10 crore and Rs.20 crore on its television ad campaigns such as Kindle Paperwhite. The company did not comment on its advertising budget.
Besides the television commercial, the company is using newspaper jackets and social media to promote the e-reader. Consumer discounts have also been offered to push sales.
“Kindle has not taken off as the company would have hoped it to. People are either not willing to buy Kindle or the ones who have it hardly use it,” said Jessie Paul, chief executive officer at Paul Writer, a Bengaluru-based marketing advisory firm. Case in point is 23 year-old Mumbai-based Madhur Gupta who owns a Kindle but has hardly purchased any e-books. “A lot of Indian authors are still not available on Kindle. Also, e-books are comparatively expensive in India compared to buying a hardcopy,” he said.
“The company has been struggling with Kindle sales in India. They have massively increased their advertising budget both for television as well as for on-ground activities. Even the philosophy and message of the product has changed,” said a senior executive who is closely involved with the distribution of the product.
“We are living in a multi-screen environment and a consumer can have a Kindle app whether or not he owns a Kindle device. So, the company has to give a very strong rationale behind why a Kindle device is superior and why a consumer should have one more screen,” said Mallikarjun Das, chief executive of Starcom MediaVest, a media-buying agency.