It’s touted as the iPhone killer. It’s feature-rich and the firsts it claims for itself are many: As much as 24GB memory space, a 2.8-inch-wide screen, a dual LED flash and a dual-band HSDPA are among a few of them. The much anticipated handset from Nokia, the N96, which is also the most advanced multimedia device from the iconic Nseries range, is finally out. And efforts to promote this started months before the product was launched.
The typical users would be “gadget freaks, people who believe in social networking, those who use the Internet too often and people who consume a lot of multimedia”, says Vineet Taneja, Head-Go To Market (GTM), Nokia. They also tend to be younger men in the “elite” class of society.
Efforts to promote the N96 started two to three months prior to its launch. “Much of our preliminary marketing was through the Internet, where we identified key technology bloggers and used their feedback to further alter our marketing and selling plans.”
The device is preloaded with popular audio albums, the Bollywood blockbuster Om Shanti Om, detailed maps of three countries and three N-Gage platform games. “This is also part of our marketing plan – an effort to indirectly make the user try all the features available in the handset,” adds Taneja.
Nokia will run a complete 360-degree campaign in the next few weeks from now, as it is a flagship launch for the industry leaders. There will be a lot of television advertising, a lot of activity in the Internet and in print. Events both online and offline will constitute a major part of the campaign.
“We also had a pre-booking advertisement to check for interest levels in the market, and to our surprise, we found great response. A lot of people pre-booked the handsets, which we consider something phenomenal,” says Taneja.
Nokia banks heavily on experiential marketing and hence a major part of the marketing spend is allotted to retail. “We have a strong presence in retail – both branded retail, and multi-brand outlets. We have our concept stores in specific cities, where we have a set of well-trained promoters to guide the buyer through his purchasing decision,” he added. “Doing just television advertising doesn’t add value.” Nokia believes in getting the user to experience the gadget before actually buying it. “What we do is equivalent to a test drive.”
On September 15, Nokia announced a consumer initiative; the Nokia N96 24 Gig is Big! Challenge, a contest inviting users across India to discover the enormous memory space of the device. Devinder Kishore, Director (Marketing), Nokia India, said, “The Nokia N96 will set new industry parameters for mobile handsets across all categories.” Nokia is involving the student community in a big way. The Nseries ‘ConvergExpress’, a special wi-fi coach showcasing Nokia’s converged devices, will go around Delhi University.
Starting the fourth or fifth month from the launch, Nokia plans to begin a reinforcement campaign. “We will start reinforcing and start generating positive word of mouth.” Nokia already has a consumer interaction platform – MyNokia, where the users of Nokia get to write about their experiences with the gadget.
With its reputation of iPhone killer, it was expected to be priced cheaper than the iPhone. While the iPhone is priced between Rs 31,000 and Rs 36,000, this Nokia handset is priced at Rs 34,999, a price level similar to its predecessor, N95. “The pricing strategy is not any different and is not altered to suit competition,” adds Taneja.
Elaborating on the comparison drawn with the Apple iPhone, Taneja says, “We welcome competition as it helps us. We have a really strong range unlike our competitors. The N96 is our top end device at the moment. However, we have a lot more to offer to our consumers.”
Another important area that Nokia concentrates is on ‘range planning.’ “Range is an important part of our strategy,” he added. Being market leaders, Nokia believes a wide range helps the company hold its position. “We need it as market leaders. We can’t afford to leave any gaps.”
Elaborating on the creative product strategy, Taneja explained one key technology that has come to play in the handset — the DVB-H, which expands as Digital Video Broadcasting-Handheld. Though the device is currently enabled with the technology, due to various reasons, it is available only in New Delhi and only Doordarshan can be screened at the moment. Nokia expects Mobile TV technology to be the next big thing, though.
Taneja says the device is N-Gage compatible, like other Nseries handsets. Going forward, Nokia also plans to launch its Music Store in India. There could also be an Application Store in the near future.
Listing features in the device, in the order of user preference, Taneja said music comes on top, followed by Web browsing. That would be followed by gaming for the gadget freaks followed by the video capabilities of the phone. So, where does the basic functionality of calling come into place?