Nokia is the top brand in India for 2011, and not just among mobile phone makers. Nokia topped a list containing Tata, Airtel, Bajaj, Maruti and LIC, which is no small feat. How did Nokia do it? One word: Trust.
Over the years people have come to trust Nokia because of the durable products it builds. None of the Nokia’s phones are as sexy as the iPhone 4S or a Samsung Galaxy S2, nor are they terribly slim like the Motorola Droid Razr. Nokia’s phones are sturdy, functional and, most importantly, well tested for Indian conditions. That has put Nokia in good stead.
Despite the Android onslaught, the deluge of cheap touch screen phones and the bundled offers being thrown in by the carriers, Nokia is doing well for itself. The brand presence and the trust Nokia built over the years is so strong that it can’t be easily erased by dual SIMs and cheap hacks.
Nokia is doing its bit to re-invent itself too by catering to the right segments.
Nokia initially ignored the dual SIM market, took its time to correct itself, and launched dual SIM phones including its recent Asha series of phones. Now Nokia seems to be in the thick of things. At the top end Nokia has got into bed with Microsoft and launched Nokia Lumia 710, and Nokia Lumia 800. It had even gone to great lengths and painted Jet Airways aircrafts with Lumia colors but that’s another story.
Is it just trust?
It is not all trust which is helping Nokia. There is a mistrust element to the story. Indian brands are facing a perception problem. Like I explained here, Indian branded phones are an afterthought. Nokia and Samsung are Indian consumers’ first choice.
Indian mobile manufacturers haven’t done anything significant to address these perception problems. Their solution is to launch more phones. When Nokia ignored the dual SIM category, everybody made merry. That segment is saturated and cheap touch screen phones is the new gold rush. Which means slightly expensive phones. Indian consumers are not yet ready to hand over big bucks to the Indian brands.
You need something more than cheap phones and cute ads to overcome this perception.
How long will it last?
Nokia would have had it easy if it wasn’t for the Korean prodigy: Samsung. Elsewhere in the world, Samsung is accused of copying. In India it’s accused of being the fastest rising brand. Samsung is ranked fourth in the top brands list of 2011 and is quickly becoming the choice of Indian consumers.
Just like a military general places his troops in key positions and covers all bases, Samsung has positioned its products quite well in all price categories. Of course Android helped a bit but it’s Samsung which is really helping Android. People aren’t buying any Android phones. People are buying Samsung’s Android phones and this is a problem for Nokia.
Nokia’s threat isn’t an Indian brand, but Samsung. That won’t be reversed anytime soon because Nokia doesn’t have enough phones in all price categories and most importantly in the smartphone category.
The next survey might still place Nokia at the top but Samsung will continue to rise.
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