Saturday, August 25, 2007

Why is Nokia doing well in India?

For Nokia India is the second largest market and in India Nokia is the largest selling phone brand, period. This post started off, like a few good posts, as a comment here and now has a life of its own.

If you are in India and have seen Nokia, it is not a surprise at all. Almost since day one, they have exhibited a good understanding of the customer. One of their early ads (they were the first to advertise) was about a banker with his kid in the park. His phone is shown as bouncing all over the park, it falls on the slide, but he nonchalantly picks it up and uses it - the look and feel of the phone and overall reliability to take the rough and tumble of Indian life went hand in hand. This was the super reliable Nokia (was it 3310 or 3315?) series . This was the model that took the race away from competition. Till then there were many were other handsets around, but this was the best with the sturdiness to weight ratio, a decent price point and good looks (it even had interchangeable covers). It broke through the clutter and how.

Also in those early days Nokia was never in a supply shortage situation. Somehow, the market was flooded with Nokias, grey or white, Nokia was all over. And they established dealerships very fast in every major city which almost made them synomous with the mobile phone in India. By the time the others established a toe hold, Nokia was driving the bus.

One of the other things they did was appealed to the thriftiness of the Indian consumer. Their charger was mostly constant across phone models. For every phone lost, you could continue to use the same charger while you upgraded your phone. Also, in a place with multiple phones, it was convenient to have lesser chargers (yes, the price dropped if you did not want the charger in the grey market). While the Sonys and Motorolas went with multiple charges, Nokia had (and even today nearly has) just one charger.

Also, as people upgraded Nokia found a life in the used phone market - thanks to its durability and sturdiness again.

Then came the game changing 1100. With a rock bottom pricepoint, utilitarian looks, a torch (simply brilliant), a look that conveys sturdiness all over and performance that took rough handling (who can forget their ad where the phone is hung outside a truck under the engine like a slipper to ward off the evil eye) smoothly, this phone was a runaway success. There were other no frills models with radio and simple looks and Nokia never really looked back.

Now of course, Nokia straddles the higher end and the lower end comfortably and it is because the brand has delivered in all respects. Sundar, Sasta, Tikau (Beautiful, Cheap, Durable) at the entry level and Sundar, Tikau and Feature-rich at the higher end.

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