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There was once a time when Nokia dominated the mobile phone market. The company revolutionised the mobile industry with their ‘candy bar’ style handsets. They were the pioneers of the industry, creating nearly indestructible phones and developing some of the world’s first colour screen mobiles.
Skip forward a decade, and Nokia are now telling a completely different story. The rise of the smartphone and the availability of mobile technology has led to the market being saturated with numerous other brands, each claiming to produce ‘the next big thing”.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the challenges Nokia are facing, and the digital marketing techniques they’re utilising to overcome them.
Established in Finland in 1865, the company specialise in communications and IT. Since introducing their first mobile phone in 1987, they have continued to revolutionise the mobile industry.
However; the Finnish firm’s share of the market has been dropping considerably over the last few years, whilst its closest competitors have seen a meteoric rise in sales.
As a big name brand, Nokia faces heated competition daily. Below is a graph showing Nokia’s two major competitors, Samsung and Apple, and their market share over the last two years.
Top mobile phone manufacturers in 2012 (millions of units)
As you can see, Nokia’s sales and market share has dropped considerably. Compare that to the dramatic and notable increases seen across the board by their two biggest competitors and we begin to see the issue at hand.
So what are their competitors doing that’s working so well? What marketing magic are they performing in order to rise up the ranks so quickly?
Samsung seem to be constantly updating their products (there are already five different types of their flagship phone), each with exciting new features and new-fangled technology. They figured out quite early on that the best way to showcase this was through video marketing.
From cheeky video attacks on Apple (see above), to well-shot demonstrations and pet advice from celebrity dog-whisperer Cesar Millan; they’ve manage to cover a lot of bases and audiences with quality, well rounded video content. This content is then uploaded to the company’s social media accounts where it helps build the brand and encourage conversations.
Since Apple released the iPhone in 2007, they’ve managed to successfully revolutionise the mobile market. They made big-screen touch-based smartphones popular, and have become a divisive brand.
Their content strategy is based around inspiring people with their products. Their product consistency is both their best feature and at times their worst enemy. People know what to expect when they buy an Apple product, even when they add new technology to their handsets, an iPhone is still an iPhone. Because of this, Apple have to get creative with their content. They focus on emotive content and colourful imagery, which also helps showcase the fact that their products work particularly well whilst doing so.
The likes of HTC and Sony have all risen up to challenge Nokia’s brand position.
HTC’s odd new adverts featuring Robert Downey JR. (Sans Iron Man armour sadly, missed a trick there) haven’t really found the right balance between quirky and entertaining yet, instead coming off as slightly forced. That being said their smartphones are selling like hotcakes, with their flagship phone, HTC One, being voted by many reputable sources as 2013’s best mobile.
Sony have focussed their content around the USPs of their handsets, with adverts featuring people getting their mobiles as messy as possible and then cleaning them by dousing the technology in water. Why and when anyone would ever do this is another story, but it certainly shows off the fact that the phone is waterproof.
As you can see from the figures above, Nokia’s sales are declining. There’s no two ways about it, they need to shake things up.
Rebranding itself as a challenger brand is a huge step in right direction.
Tuula Rytilä, chief marketing officer at Nokia, has a lot to say about Nokia’s new strategy: “In many ways, we’ve changed the way we market Nokia and our products. At the core of Nokia brands are attributes such as quality, innovation and relevancy.”
It seems the company is now aiming to “evoke a stronger emotional response” from its consumers. This will obviously work alongside the brand’s current “trust-worthy, ethical and innovative” qualities.
“For years we were the leader in our industry. When a leader is [at the top] for a long time, naturally they have more to lose and become more defensive. Now we actually get to act like a challenger. It’s quite natural, and we’re having a lot of fun with it. We want to be more bold in our approach, and [we want] a global brand as well.” (Source: Ad Age)
“As a challenger in the mobile market, we want to be bolder in order to make our point clearer. And importantly, what we do needs to resonate with the consumer.”
It’s that last part which is especially key here – resonating with the consumer. No matter how you look at it, the modern marketplace is consumer driven. Whereas stores used to lead the passive masses by the hand and tell them exactly what they should like, most brands now rely on customer insights and user reviews in order to generate custom.
It makes perfect sense for Nokia to focus on social; this is after all where the large majority of their potential target audience reside. Their new strategy encourages them to be responsive to what’s happening around them, a tactic that many brands could benefit from adopting.
On the night that Apple debuted their hotly anticipated new iPhone models, featuring the brightly coloured iPhone 5C, a simple yet brutally effective two-word tweet from Nokia’s UK account managed to steal the show. “Thanks, #Apple” read the message, which was accompanied by a picture featuring Nokia’s equally colourful Lumia range with the text “Imitation is the best form of flattery”.
— Nokia UK (@nokia_uk) September 10, 2013
It’s worth noting of course that coloured iPhones had been rumoured for quite some while, so this tweet may not have been as quick-witted as it seems, but they still seized an opportunity in an ingenious way. It’s reactive marketing at its best.
Pretty smart huh? Yeah everyone else thought so too. The tweet has been shared and retweeted over 40,000 times since it went live, quickly knocking the highly coveted Oreo Super Bowl blackout tweet off the top spot, and scoring massive amounts of free publicity because of it.
It’s not just the large number of shares that are impressive here, it’s the fact that they managed to draw the attention away, even if only for a moment, from one of the most monumental tech unveilings of the year. That’s pretty impressive if you ask me; now all they need to do is find a way to convert all those social metrics into actual sales.
It’s important to remember that the way pictures and videos are presented is just as important as the copy when it comes to successful content marketing.
Nokia know this all too well, one of the major selling points on their newest Lumia device is the fact that is has a whopping 41mp camera, allowing for some absolutely amazing images to be captured.
— Nokia UK (@nokia_uk) October 12, 2013
In fact the photographic prowess of the Lumia devices has always been a big selling point for Nokia, and this is something they’re taking advantage of in the most ingenious ways.
Microsoft and Nokia have partnered with the University of Southampton to showcase Nokia’s passion for innovation (whilst also advertising how great their phones are). Last year the company attached a handset to a weather balloon as part of the ASTRA project and launched the Lumia 800 into the Earths Stratosphere, documenting the journey via the mobile’s camera throughout.
This not only showcased the brilliant camera, but also highlighted the device’s outstanding aerial, as it was able to maintain a data connection 8km above the Earth, 3km longer than other devices at the time. The photos were then shared with Nokia’s community via their ‘Conversations’ blog, check out the photos for yourself, the results do not disappoint.
This wasn’t just a one-off experiment though; the company regularly produce content showcasing their phone’s features and highlighting how these can be used to benefit users. They actively encourage those with a great idea to apply for a trial with their smartphones, which of course leads to great publicity for both the brand and the user.
Their latest endeavour, for example, is an electrifying experiment involving lightning and a phone charger. According to the brand’s official blurb, this shockingly good video is a “testament to the renowned high quality and durability of Nokia’s devices and the company’s continuing research to increase the already outstanding reliability of its products.”
Pretty awesome, right!
Microsoft recently spent 5.4 billion euros to buyout Nokia’s mobile division and license its patents.
32,000 of the company’s 88,000 employees will be moving to Microsoft. That’s a large percentage of the workforce; it’ll be interesting to see how Microsoft handles the takeover, and whether they opt for a complete rebrand or simply carry out changes behind the scenes so to speak.
There’s been speculation that Microsoft are likely to drop the Nokia (and possibly even Lumia) title from the ‘Nokia Lumia with Windows Phone’ range of handsets, labelling the devices simply as Windows Phones. Streamlining and simplifying the brand like this would allow them to potentially access a whole new market, and may tempt those who have been previously put off Nokia phones to come back to the brand.
With fresh-faces behind the wheel and a renewed focus on online media and experiential demonstrations showcasing the “unique capabilities” of its devices; Nokia are finally stepping up to the plate and properly utilising all the resources available to them.
Windows phones are still lagging behind (quite considerably in fact) when it comes to the availability of apps. Hopefully the new buyout from Microsoft will help draw in the majority of app creators in much the same way as they have done with their Xbox Live platform.
Despite their disappointing sales figures, there’s still a lot to learn from Nokia when it comes to marketing your brand.
Nokia may not be excelling in sales, but they certainly know how to create good quality content that keeps their brand in people’s minds and ensures they remain a contender.
What are your thoughts on Nokia, and the marketing techniques used by the mobile industry as a whole? Do you think the Finnish manufacturer will ever be able to regain their crown as king (or queen) of mobile? Let me know in the comments below.
Cell Phone via BigStock
Samantha Noble is well known within in the search industry, she even won the UK Search Personality 2016 at the UK Search Awards in November. This year, she continues to make an impact on the industry by judging not only one, but three, prestigious industry awards.