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How Nokia became and remains a market leader

How Nokia became and remains a market leader

By Melinda Varley

Nokia is the biggest manufacturer of mobile handsets in the world and currently has a 46 per cent share in the market, up from 35 per cent in 2006. With the introduction of new mobile technologies and gadgets such as the Blackberry and Apple’s iPhone, how does Nokia stay ahead of the market?

Will Harris, UK marketing director at the handset giant Nokia, says what’s important to the brand is to look after its customers rather than worry about the competition.

He said, “We don’t tend to worry about competition. As long as we’re making products people want to buy we are OK. The moment we start forgetting about the consumer and start worrying about the competition, that’s when you kind of lose the plot.

“We make phones people want to buy - having said that, looking at the iPhone, I think they’ve brought some excitement back to the category and that is a good thing. I’d prefer be working for Nokia with the iPhone around then I would for other manufactures. I think we have such an amazing design and technology capability and we are so big and so fast that what you see is that we rise to the challenge.”

This year, Nokia has been focusing its marketing activities on the three specific applications that are now available on all its handsets: games, maps and music.

In its latest television campaign, Navigation created by Wieden+Kennedy, Nokia promotes it 6220 handset. The ad features a group of people creating a massive hand drawn map, which appears to fill New York’s Central Park.  

Harris said, “We are concentrating our marketing spend into small things that work, like just doing a really creative TV campaign, or just doing a really engaging digital campaign - that’s where the ad world is going - you have to do less, well.”

Earlier this month, Nokia also launched an online campaign to drive awareness of its new Nokia Maps service. The campaign, which was created by digital agency Work Club, comprises five online films directed by The IT Crowd and Nathan Barley actor Richard Ayoade.

Nokia's mapping service combines GPS navigation and social networking to help users find nearby friends and venues such as restaurants and cash machines. The films to promote the service are only shown on Nokia’s website, a strategy Harris says is about doing less marketing channels better - rather than fitting one campaign across several different channels.

“Digital encompasses many things including mobile, social media, broadcast sites like YouTube and email,” explains Harris. “There are now so many different marketing channels, and yet people are still trying to do the same things, which is to take the campaign and amplify and activate it into all these different areas.

“If you look at Nokia’s model now however, its changed. You can’t take the one campaign and put it into as many different channels as possible. You’d just have chaos because you cannot chase consumers down all their different digital and non-digital avenues.”

Harris says that the booming media world and the launch of social networks and blogs have made what used to be the 360 degree campaign impossible.

“Its difficult from an agencies point of view as its difficult to manage all these channels because you can never follow the consumer all the way down the different marketing channels. The critical thing is you can’t ever do anything properly with the money you have.

“To do a 360 campaign, you could spend millions and millions of pounds because you’ll  never know where to stop. What you find is you take your budget and you fritter it across all these 360 degrees, so it’s a combination of more channels. A different agency structure and an undiminished media spend means that 360 is just more and more difficult to do,” Harris said.

While the birth of the social media channel that has given consumers more of a critical voice, brands can use this new form of communication to their advantage as a way of connecting with “fans”.

Earlier this year, Nokia launched a campaign on Facebook where it recruited 200 people to spearhead an experiential campaign by showing Nokia users how to use the applications on their handsets.

“We ran a short burst buying banners on Facebook and started a Facebook group,” explains Harris. “We wanted to recruit 200 people and interview 1000. In the space of ten days we had 12000 apply and had to stop taking applications because it was too much to handle. That social media campaign cost pennies compared to a TV campaign and yet the results were staggering.”

The campaign involved the recruits going around the UK showing Nokia users what they could do with their phones.

Harris said, “Nokia as a business is increasingly selling services. So we have maps, games and music, those three things on all our devices. People aren’t aware of all our phones can do, so by having this team of people going around talking, explaining what customers can do, it makes a difference.”

Social networks may be a fad for brands, but in the time that they are popular, brands need to have a presence on them.

“Every time you see a new media phenomonon emerge, brands climb all over it, and it might work for the first two weeks, but it soon becomes outdated. Take YouTube for example. Everyone used to put their ads or corporate videos on YouTube.

“What brands believe is that if you put something on YouTube, people will watch it. But actually, a good idea is needed in order for it to be something for people to look at - a good idea is still a good idea.”
Harris works off the strategy to do less better, “If you’re going to do TV, make sure its really creative, really well shot and really well thought through. You’re entertaining people as well as informing them. If your going to do digital, make sure its engaging. Brands have got to get better at using video to tell their stories,” he said.

Its also important for brands to do sponsorships that matter and that draw attention to your services, according to Harris. Consumers need to be able to see a link between what their favourite brands put their names to.

Harris explains, “We’re trying to do things that are interesting. There’s no point for us to sponsor a football team or anything like that, we’re trying to communicate what services are available on our phone.”

Nokia is currently sponsoring the Royal Parks half marathon in London which will take place on the 12 October. The sponsorship aims to communicate Nokia’s guided maps product, which is available for free on all Nokia handsets.

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