My Marketing Communication subject faculty used to tell us that India is very strange place to be in because no one knows what works here. This is the only country where Adidas/Reebok is preferable over Nike, Coca-cola is not No.1 soft drink and P&G ranks behind HUL. And this belief even strengthens if you have read recent Brand Trust Report. According to report, Nokia is most trusted brand followed by Samsung & Sony. During the time when Nokia is suffering through Rs. 13,000 crore Tax Bill, this news comes as great moment of joy for Nokia.
It comes as a great surprise that during the time when Nokia is going through one of its the worst phase, it still maintained to keep No-1 trusted brand position above Samsung and other brands. How this happened? As they say, “Brands are not built overnight”, a lot of hard work of Marketing team of Nokia has gone into making the brand the way it is perceived today.
Nokia, the Finland based mobile manufacturer of mobile phones, which launched its first phone in 1981 and entered in India in 1991, made its mark in the word in age of Motorola and Sony Ericsson. Nokia, whose market share was 70% at its peak, has reduced to around 30% market share.
When Nokia entered India, its strategy focused on mobile phone market, establishing dealership network, developing innovative product for Indian land, creating brand awareness and achieve cost effectiveness. And this focus paid of company in terms of market share and brand loyalty. The other advantage Nokia got was that they were first in investing Brand, people, manufacturing, R&D and distribution.
- Over the time it introduced wide range of mobile phones that served different strata of the society. It produced some “viral” products like Nokia-3315, Nokia-1100-Phone made for India and Nokia-6600 among many
- It was the first company to introduce map in mobile phone in India and first to understood power of app
- Nokia always strived to be cost-effective company and that was reflected in the price.
- They provided many phones at entry level at much lower price than competitors
- Even for lifestyle segment their prices were very competitive
- Nokia preferred to work with distributors associated with dealers of fast moving consumer goods (FMCGs) and consumer durables. Some distributors were former FMCG middlemen who found the margins in the mobile phones business
- In India, Nokia has some 95,000 outlets that sell mobile phones and according to D. Shivakumar, Nokia India’s vice president and country manager, 50,000 of them — and that’s a conservative estimate — only one brand is available, Nokia
- This was the only place where Nokia was not as best as it was on other fronts
- Nokia heavily used mass media to promote its mobile phones but there was no connect between advertisements
- Nokia flawed on basic rule of Integrated Marketing Communication, “One Message, One Mantra, One Look”
Mobile handset of Nokia were so innovative(in that era) and were available at most places in the country at very reasonable price that it overshadowed promotional mistakes and Nokia went to create greatest mobile phone manufacturing brand in India in terms of brand loyalty as well as market share.
Indian economy grew like never before after 2000 and suddenly market started growing rapidly. India saw rise of Middle Income group people and their spending ability.
While Nokia was trying to achieve its cost leadership and logistic efficiency, its competitors, Samsung, Sony-Ericsson, LG, were promoting their brand and products as “Cool” products. Nokia was strong in Entry level(< Rs. 7000) market but between entry level and lifestyle (> Rs. 18000), they were very week. Nokia has product ranging from Rs. 1500 to Rs. 45000. But as they say in branding, “Brand can’t be everything to everyone” and branding each and every phone differently is not feasible in mobile phone industry as life span of one model is very small (<2 years). To mitigate this problem, Nokia started promoting common features of mobile platform i.e. E-Series, N-series. Through this Nokia did maintain focus on mother brand as well as clearly segregated mobile phone segments. Nokia provided all what it customer aspire for. They provided entry level phones, mid segment phones- where they were week though and lifestyle phones- which were not promoted with same intensity as entry level phones.
Thus, when market changed and Androids & iPhones hit the market, neither Nokia was caught off guard. In race to make most cost effective mobile, Nokia missed on sensing changing market demography and psychography. People wanted something new, something different while Nokia still promoted its Symbian OS without much visible changes. Nokia didn’t have any leader product in lifestyle segment. Nokia did offer N-series handsets in mid-level segment but they lost their charm when Androids entered. Nokia’s brand image was built as “value for money” mobile phone and not “cool” or “stylish”. This allowed wide space for competitors and they capitalized on it. But old Nokia users were so emotionally connected with brand that they were very hesitant to accept new brand and this helped Nokia to survive.
In desperate attempt, to fight with android and apple smartphones, Nokia teamed up with Microsoft to launch first Windows-8 based smartphone. Meanwhile It also launched “value for money” smart phone- Nokia Asha to fight with lower end android smart phones. Launch of Lumia and Asha has given some support to falling market share and revenue of Nokia but it is still shrinking. Nokia is trying to bounce back and this is visible through all the campaigns they have undertaken to promote Asha & Lumia and I think it is the reason why Nokia is still most trusted brand even in 2013.