Communicate gets an exclusive interview with Stephen Taylor (left), Chief Marketing Officer, and Devasish Auddy (right), Head of Marketing MENA at HMD Global, to learn more about how they differentiate themselves in the market and their plans for 2021.
How is HMD Global envisioning their marketing strategy to cement their differentiation in such a crowded market?
Stephen Taylor: Our marketing strategy centers around our consumers. We are laser-focused on redefining who our audience and consumers are. Although our audience’s tribes are nuanced and unique, we believe that what unites the four tribes - from families to younger passionate leaders - we’ve identified is a shared belief that every situation can be improved. Collectively we call all these tribes ‘Positive Balancers’ – an audience that is defined through culture and a shared mindset.
Getting to the granular detail of who our products are for is what matters to Nokia phones, which is why putting the tribe at the heart of our communications helps ensure [the product's] relevance on a cultural and personal level. This approach is underpinned by our promise to deliver purposeful technology, that is accessible to everyone and available across different price points.
Keeping our audience at the core of our operations helps to shape the way in which the company evolves. Looking through the lens of what our consumers need, means that we are pushing beyond hardware and becoming a more holistic mobile provider that offers services, that make a difference to our consumers' lives.
Last but not least, our ongoing commitment to security - through our promise to deliver three years of monthly security updates and two years of software upgrades – is a big differentiator in the market. So much so that Nokia smartphones recently lead the 2020 trust rankings from Counterpoint Research for the second year running. The findings were based on software, security updates and build quality.
Is there a regional adaption for this strategy in the MENA region?
Devasish Auddy: The MENA region is a very competitive market with higher mobile penetration rates across some of its countries, such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia. We understand that today’s consumers are more demanding than ever before, and we always look for ways to continuously engage with them and address their needs.
As a brand, we are constantly looking at ways to expand the human possibilities of the connected world and build the right kind of partnerships at a market level so we can reach and service all of our fans in the region. The encouragement, support, and excitement we have felt from the operators and retailers we’ve met so far has been humbling and drives us to bring quality, performant and reliable phones to all consumers regardless of the budget or geography.
How has HMD dealt with the challenges in 2020 both globally and in the region?
ST: There’s no doubt that COVID-19 has had an impact on the industry as a whole. Having said that our strategy and vision remains unwavering and as a result of that, we have reached a number of milestones over the last 12 months.
For instance, despite the challenges of such unprecedented times, HMD Global successfully raised 230 million USD. The investment will fund our plan to make 5G smartphones accessible across the world, enhance our digital-first offerings, expand our presence in key growth markets and strengthen our leading position beyond just hardware and into a holistic mobile service provider.
DA: The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of 5G devices, especially across the GCC region. In order to be aligned with the current digital transformation, we have been enhancing our offering including affordable devices, ready for the future, and packed with creative tools. We are more committed than ever to bring the best technology experiences to our customers during these difficult times, to ensure that they can stay connected to their loved ones.
How is HMD enhancing their ‘human’ communication through marketing activities tailored to the regional audiences?
DA: I strongly believe that being human, genuine, and trustworthy are key ingredients to becoming a brand that’s truly loved by consumers. And this is why, at HMD Global, we remain focused on our own strategy and innovation, rather than that of our competitors.
Rising above product specs-led communication, we have focused our marketing and communication efforts on brand storytelling while enhancing HMD’s identity as an enabler brand that makes technology accessible to all regardless of their geography.
Our focus has been on technology that truly mattered, rather than marketing gimmicks and the specs race. Additionally, as part of our customer-centric approach, it is crucial for us to truly know our audiences and go beyond the demographics features. Therefore, we have done an extensive analysis that put the audience culture at the heart of decision-making to driving relevance and meaningful growth for our brand. Aligned with this research and the market insights gathered, we have identified different human tribes, each with their own specific aspirations, requirements, and priorities that will redefine the way we approach customers and marketing initiatives overall.
Our human approach is also reflected in the way consumers perceive Nokia phones and we are proud to have been recently featured as one of the most loved brands in the MEA region for Talkwalker in 2020.
What is HMD's vision for 2021 globally and in the region?
ST: In 2021, our mission of creating a more connected world through purposeful technology will remain. This will continue to ensure that our communication, and devices, remain relevant to our consumers while staying true to our brand values.
We will continue to be true to our Finnish heritage, ensuring our Nokia Android smartphones and feature phones deliver premium design, reliability, and security. We are already the world’s #1 feature phone brand and have been named “best Android smartphones for maintaining value”, with over 240 million consumers in the last 3.5 years. What’s next is building upon this success, and we believe that the best is yet to come.