Ms. Devita Saraf is the CEO of VU Technologies and the Executive Director of Zenith Computers. She is the pioneer in bringing the concept of luxury technology to India through VU Technologies. Voted as one of the ten young tycoons by The Week, Ms. Saraf writes for guest columns in the Wall Street Journal and the Economic Times.
Markathon: Zenith has largely focused on lower value products satisfying core benefits, whereas VU is aimed at the upper strata of the society. How do you see the integration of both these business models, as VU must have inherited some of ZENITH values?
Devita Saraf: Innovation in products has to be done, no matter what strata you are selling to. Vu has inherited Zenith’s aggressive and innovative core values, albeit reaching a newer market segment.
Markathon: India being traditionally a price conscious market, what is the scope of luxury technology here?
Devita Saraf: Indian consumers are being exposed to new products and concepts daily. The Indian buyer is as knowledgeable as any international buyer. This also makes him a more discerning buyer because he understands quality and is willing to pay for it. So the scope for luxury technology exists because Indian buyers now want the best.
Markathon: With respect to high end electronic gadgets, Indian consumers generally prefer globally established brands. What is the marketing strategy of VU Technologies to overcome this?
Devita Saraf: Even established brands have to work hard at winning over the Indian consumer. This is because we are an inward looking country, and we don’t follow trends of other countries blindly. This is a good thing, because brands are forced to innovate separately for India. VU has always innovated for customers and that is why we have been able to win hearts and trust in such a short time.
Markathon: Being a niche market, the luxury segment is dependent on word of mouth promotion. In this context how do you create brand awareness without mass marketing?
Devita Saraf: We do a lot of BTL activities throughout the year. For example, we partner with Oberoi Hotels for their events. We associate with other brands that are luxury and also try and do co-branding and events. We also have our own events and exhibitions for Vu Owner’s Club members.
During festive season, when sales are high, we do ATL activities such as newspaper ads, outdoor campaigns, special offers etc.
In marketing, you have to keep attempting a mix of marketing programs because luxury brands are subtle and loud advertising will have a bad effect. So you have to quietly slip your brand into the right places.
We also do high-end ads in magazines such as Vogue, but we haven’t calculated the RoMI there yet. A lot of experimentation is always on at VU.
Markathon: VU Technologies have a presence across major social networking sites. What role do social media play in the exclusive segment that you cater to?
Devita Saraf: Social media is important because of two reasons:
1. Consumers spend a lot of time online and reach amongst a younger segment is very high
2. Social media marketing is a mix between PR and advertising and you can build a good base of current and potential customers by educating them on your brand.
Markathon: With its high focus on innovation, how does the California based VU Technologies design for the Indian consumers?
Devita Saraf: Innovation is at the core of everything we do. We don’t really look at competition for inspiration, but we interact regularly with customers for feedback. For example, in USA people watch home videos in a dark room with a loud surround sound. In India, we like to watch TV in bright sunlit rooms in the day with the tube lights on! So the TV has to be sharp enough in this lighting environment. At VU we keep these insights in mind and create products accordingly.
Markathon: Being among the young business tycoons of India, who are ready to inherit and give new dimensions to their family businesses, what is your vision for the company as well as expectation from the management circle in achieving the same?
Devita Saraf: Young Indians have a chance to play on the global playground, which our seniors did not. We have to play by the rules of global competition and win. But the challenge is to win in our unique way. What this unique way is, I don’t know yet. It’s a learning process.