Tag Archives: mobile

Can the new tranche of Chinese tech brands take the UK by storm?

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In recent years, more Chinese brands than ever have broken new ground in Europe and continued to develop outside of their established Asian markets. One of the most immediately recognisable Chinese brands is Huawei and possibly Hisense but have you heard of Haier, Oppo or Xiaomi? Chinese consumer electronics brands have recently launched in the UK and are fast gaining traction in their respective categories since being made available on the UK high street.

We live in a society where global brands are the norm. Whilst we are, or at least believe we are, familiar with many of the brands we are exposed to, there are others that we don’t know so much about even if we buy-into them as consumers. Do we care about a brand’s origins and heritage? Or are consumer purchase decisions driven by a products’ look, functionality, usage, price point and status? If this new tranche of Chinese tech brands doesn’t focus enough on building their brands and resonance with the UK audience, will they be able to compete with their Californian cousins and achieve their full potential in the UK market?

Cleverly Haier, the world’s number one major appliance brand in terms of volume bought Hoover Candy, a traditional stalwart of the Major Domestic Appliance market in the EU which enables Haier to tap into the trust associated with a familiar European brand. Now listed in John Lewis stores, there’s brand reassurance of Haier is being established among shoppers.

Oppo, China’s leading 4G smartphone manufacturer, launched its range of mobile phones into Dixons Carphone earlier this year. With flagship models coming in at under £800 SIM free, the brand offers premium and innovative features at a fraction of the price other brands may charge. Time will tell if the brand has done enough to resonate and take a big enough market share and see a return on investment on their ICC Cricket World Cup and Wimbledon sponsorship.

Xiaomi, pronounced ‘ShwowMee’, is actually the world’s most valuable privately held company, and the third biggest smartphone maker, selling 61 million handsets last year. Xiaomi has been bold with its UK launch strategy and has opened a great new Mi store at Westfield White City. The store is familiar looking, sharing many similarities, all be it on a smaller budget, to that of its Californian cousins.

It sells a variety of products from mobile phones, TVs, smart kettles, electric scooters and other accessories in an environment where you are encouraged to play and explore. Its pricing is competitive and it’s certainly within the budgets of a far wider demographic than other brands but what it lacks is star quality. Star quality on build, packaging and its ability to give consumers that ‘feel good’ factor from an anonymous brand is essential if it’s to mean more to consumers. All possible if its proud heritage and brand storytelling was more obvious.

Tell me what Mi means to the technology industry and I may be persuaded to purchase some of today’s most competitively priced technology and become a brand advocate. Hide from me what Mi is and I may react a bit more suspiciously and feel the brand isn’t the best fit for me. Brands, wherever they are from, should be proud of their heritage and success. A confident, honest and ethical brand will help instil the necessary confidence in consumers to help a brand to gain traction and ‘win’ in a new market.

To read the full article please visit The Drum.

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Celebrity Endorsement in Technology Still Requires Innovation to Succeed

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Is it a bird or a plane? No, it’s just Henry Cavill using his new Huawei P9+, making him the Ying to Scarlet Johanssons Yang. Both celebrities have cleverly signed up to be the new ambassadors for China’s most recognised international mobile handset brand, Huawei. As two of the most recognised actors on the planet with a box office track record that spans 44 films, which when aggregated amount to almost $8 billion in box office takings (with an average earning of $190 million for each film), why wouldn’t you? After all, Scarlett Johansson has a history of brand ambassador success (if you ignore the disastrous Sodastream ambassador role), which includes Moët and Dolce & Gabbana. She is also one of the worlds most profitable actors, with her movies making on average $84.90 per $1 spentthe highest grossing being Marvels The Avengers.

Johansson, with her own tech credentials in Her and as the indestructible enigma in Lucy, is a credible weapon in Huawei’s armoury, whose current mobile device market share equates to 7.3% (making it the third largest mobile handset manufacturer behind Samsung and Apple in global shipments). Yet in the West, ask anyone about the brand or how to pronounce it, and it would seem that few have heard or know about the most innovative tech firm to come out of China.

Cleverly, Huawei has not only scored with its choice in celebrities, but also in bringing the brand closer to the psyche of its users. For instance, by partnering with Leica, the German lens and camera manufacture of premium photography devices, they add traditional Western brand credentials to what, in tech terms, is a relative newcomer with ambitious plans. As Richard Yu, CEO, Huawei Business Group, comments, “We believe in cultural technology, born out of people’s curiosity and desire to be creative by changing the way they experience the world around them. With the P9, working with Leica, we have challenged the norm of what was possible in lens technology – a game-changer for smartphone photography.”

In comparison to other brands, its challenges are huge:  How do you engage with an audience who has likely never heard of your brand? Leica, Scarlett, and Henry are good starts to carving out positioning to a wide audience and extending the brand appeal through these partner choices, but it’s the look, feel, and ability of the product that ultimately wins through.

Working on how to engage with audience and retail partners, to convey brand message and vision, is crucial as Huawei embarks on this ambitious ATL product launch. As with any mobile brand, the carrier message and being recommended as the product of choice, will more than likely convert curious shoppers of the brand into customers — who will hopefully not only become advocates, but also loyal brand users beyond their first P9.

The challenge for Huawei is competing against the budgets of other handset manufacturers and creating a cost per acquisition, which makes commercial sense by bringing the ATL to TTL at this critical stage, to engage with carrier staff and ultimately consumers. No celebrity endorsements or brand associations will achieve the cut through your desired target audience without a good product that attracts the backing of retailers and networks to evangelise about your brand and your vision. These will serve to set your brand apart from the usual suspects and achieve financial and customer satisfaction for all.

Establish the brand without gimmicks, lean on your Android platform credentials, become the product innovators to establish your channels, and work hard to develop them. Once you’ve created your core, increasing confidence in your product and brand, go bold and take it to the mainstream — being mindful that you want to keep your premium status whilst remaining profitable, and avoid being yet another brand struggling in a saturated market.

What these clever brand associations and celebrity ambassadors allow Huawei to do is make some significant noise in the market, an enviable position to be in which other brands will scrutinise with envy. This opportunity to make an impact and a positive first impression with many via this campaign, if carried through successfully, will establish and increase brand recall to spark the desired curiosity in the product. This curiosity can be captured and developed by Huawei to become the brand that splits the mobile handset market and gives consumers a choice. Variety in a bland market makes consumers rethink which device to settle for, rather than opting for the default brand they’ve become accustomed to or network they’re familiar with selling.

Now, whilst glamour is assured, I’m not sure if Henry or Scarlet can break the market alone for Huawei. But, with the assistance of an established and respected brand such as Leica and some clever routes to market activation, it’s fair to say that Huawei is in a better position than most to grow market share in a crowded market and position themselves as a recognised brand.

Read more at: http://www.brandingmagazine.com/2016/05/10/celebrity-endorsement-in-technology-still-requires-innovation-to-succeed/

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MWC 2015: Is It More of the Same or Change for the Sake of Change?

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Mobile brands, including carriers and social media grandees such as Mark Zuckerberg, are in Barcelona at MWC15 to announce, prophesise, and speculate on what we as consumers will want, or think we need, in the form of mobile devices and the connected landscape. It’s true to say that we are a generation that relies on our mobile devices, even to the extent that we feel naked without a device to access the web 24/7. This now extends to wearables for fitness, virtual reality, gaming, and next, our virtual wallet and transport.

Next week at its March 9th ‘Spring Forward’ event, and as ever separately to every other brand, Apple will likely launch the Apple Watch to a global audience who may just be underwhelmed considering the announcement of advances in Android-based wearables demonstrated by HTC, Huawei, LG and Sony to name a few at MWC15. Underwhelmed is perhaps unlikely based on consumer enthusiasm, but the exclusive snapshot of the Apple Watch given by Lisa Armstrong, Telegraph Fashion Editor, demonstrates that Apple is offering what every brand must deliver to its consumers — choice. Apple offers choice of styles, straps, and faces, and of course the Edition variant in 18ct rose or yellow gold for those who like their wearables with a bit of bling. One thing these new arrivals, Apple included, all have in common is that they start to transcend the chasm of tech into fashion. They look great, work effectively, and are worthy cost-effective options (with the exception of Apple) that will further ignite the wearables market.

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But who’s copying who? Fashion brands such as Guess, and luxury watch brands like Tag and Mont Blanc, have made their intentions clear and some could argue are being driven by tech brands. However, why should tech need to look traditional to enable adoption, especially if it only works when I remember to charge it? Where is the value, efficiency, and worth?

On the other hand, we may be blown away by our friends in Cupertino. We have more to digest such as those car rumours in which Google is further ahead in realising, as are some of the more forward-thinking automobile brands. Volvo, for example, is exploring connected car services and is announcing a trial launch, progressing its published plan to create a fleet of driverless cars by 2017.

It’s an obvious move to connect our devices to our transportation – our devices will soon show us how to get to our destination and then take us there in the most efficient manner. Easier said than done, as we all know the pitfalls of satellite navigation. Does a driverless car have the potential to become annoying like a cab driver who is lost, can’t drive, or drives dangerously? Without exception, any mobile or wearable device that connects with our vehicle and 3rd-party applications, like social media, are going to involve advertising, data, and subscriptions, further sacrificing the joy of a quiet and peaceful drive home.

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With connected devices creating more opportunities for brands, every manufacturer understands that they need to have a cross-category approach to devices including phones, wearables, and VR, which is evident from the announcements made at MWC15. As the technology develops, however, brands also need to create amazing, intuitive, and secure software to encourage us to part with more of our tangible assets and transactions, in order to communicate and live virtually.

Are we ready or would we rather, brands included, slow down the pace? Technology is moving so rapidly that innovations are becoming obsolete before they have a chance to become a recognised part of history. The hardware needed to operate these innovations can become redundant sooner thus creating obvious problems in disposal as we can’t indefinitely deal with it by sending it off our shores to become someone else’s problem. Our perceived need to demand more out of our devices, brands, and lifestyles compounded with being forced to update, upgrade, and adopt as a result of market forces may be what drives us to come to a full circle and look for a device that allows a simpler and more traditional private life; unlikely but not impossible.

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Is it too late for BlackBerry’s return to the touchscreen mobile market?

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With Mobile World Congress in Barcelona almost at an end, last night Blackberry chief executive John Chen surprisingly announced BlackBerry’s re-entry into the touchscreen mobile market with the ‘Leap’, joining the recent classic keyboard models, with another three variants to come in 2015.

With an estimated 1,000 smartphones being shipped globally every minute compared to nothing less than a decade ago, can Blackberry reignite enthusiasm – not only amongst new customers, but those die hard brand advocates?

Blackberry shipped 7.9 million phones last year according to a Gartner study, six times less than in 2011 (51.1m).

The brand certainly still deserves some credence, after all it continues to dominate in the B2B sector and has suffered fewer embarrassing privacy leaks than some rivals.

This time, Blackberry will provide access to its services on iOS, Android and Windows phones for a fee as ‘experience suites’, which all sounds very complicated.

With hungry competitors like Microsoft, LG and Motorola bringing similar mid-range devices with more innovations and greater advertising spend to the market, can Blackberry continue to trade on good will and is its market now too business centric to be relevant to make the ‘Leap’?

I hope it’s not too late for Blackberry – it paved the way for the globe’s current top two players who most certainly copied what Blackberry created, and did it well with lesser products but great advertising and brand advocacy.

To survive in my view, Blackberry must once again focus hard on its brand, values, heritage and innovation in a manner which appeals to both more established and emerging demographics.

It needs to stay in the game and keep the competition fresh to offer more choice to both business and consumers.

I guarantee that every mobile carrier wants to see Blackberry survive to ensure certain brands have less control over their business models and a broad spread of brands to partner with now, tomorrow and long-term.

 

Read more at: http://wallblog.co.uk/2015/03/05/is-it-too-late-for-blackberrys-return-to-the-touchscreen-mobile-market/

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Mobile World Congress Plays Backdrop to the Telecoms’ Brand Fight

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As the great and good of the mobile world gather in Barcelona for this year’s GSMA Mobile World Congress, an event attended by none other than Mark Zuckerberg fresh on the back of his WhatsApp purchase, what will a crowded category of brands announce next?

Samsung, Apple, LG, Blackberry, Sony, Nokia, Huawei, Motorola and the list goes on. The number of mobile brands out there is large, so how does this mass of brands gain affection? Samsung has just launched a brand marketing platform in a bid to become the ‘most loved brand,’ while this year we’ve seen Huawei ink a partnership with Arsenal. The opportunities for these brands to overstep each other are limitless, so who will win this aggressive marketing match?

You don’t have to look far to see evidence that the world of successful, high-end smartphone makers is shrinking to a few major contenders dominated by Apple and Samsung – while other important brands, like BlackBerry, LG and Motorola, fade in prominence or struggle to compete. Still, lesser known brands have a chance to grow, even thrive, in emerging markets. Lenovo is picking up steam in China, the most important growth market there is; and, even though they’re on the brink of extinction, BlackBerry phones are still selling throughout Africa, South America and the Middle East. ABI Research says that smartphone penetration is at 20 percent out of a global population of 7.2 billion people. Looking at it another way, smartphones accounted for a little over half of all mobile handset sales in 2013. That means there are a lot of people who will be shopping for their first-ever smartphones, people who perhaps aren’t as focused on brand loyalty as they are on value.

So what are these brands doing to gain market share? Sponsorship is a core strategy for many of these brands. Huawei hopes its tie-up with Arsenal will boost awareness of the brand in the UK. It had a 0.9 per cent share of the UK smartphone market in November, according to comScore, putting it 9th in the rankings behind brands including Samsung, Apple and BlackBerry. That is also well behind its global share, which Strategy Analytics estimates at 5 per cent in the third quarter.

Then, there are the beloved celebrity endorsements that catch many an eye. However, it remains unclear whether they have helped some of these ailing tech businesses. HTC had been struggling, but hoped that its signing of Iron Man star, Robert Downey, Jr., last year for a two-year deal could turn things around. In picking a big-name actor to not only front its campaign, but also help shape it, HTC is following a well-trodden path; however, the endorsement has failed to attract at a high level as its net income fell by more than 90 per cent last quarter.

The problem is that there are so many brands out there and the ones that are winning the match are those that have strong brand identities. Whilst Apple focuses on experiences for customers rather than sponsorship and celebrity, the brand keeps consumers at the heart of everything it does, allowing it to anticipate what they want next, breaking new ground in design and performance. Samsung’s products are equally as good (just look at the recently launched S5) and the brand’s marketing approach, a large investment set to drive brand loyalty, is as scientific as its nearest rival. A “brand dependence” index revealed at CES suggested that more people are dependent on the Samsung brand than any other in consumer electronics. As part of its brand strategy, it has invested heavily in social engagement and that too is paying off as it clearly knows its audience and how to target it. With EE in the UK announcing a 68% increase in 4G customers, consumers want a handset which not only compliments the network, but also meets their needs – whether this be functionality, speed or style.

For brands on the periphery to succeed, there needs to be some deep-seated consideration taken in what the brand stands for and what its target audiences are. The brands out there at the moment seem to be clambering after everyone rather than taking a step back and establishing a concrete outlook into the future and where they want to be. Nokia, which – we don’t need to be reminded – is now owned by Microsoft and oddly launching an Android device, is a great example. As with any demographic, brand is everything. For a category that we cannot live without in this connected world (where our smartphones get thinner, get larger in screen size and become not only phones, but also cameras and media devices), these brands could possibly transform their businesses by holding back on the random star endorsements and sponsorships until they know who they’re targeting.

The land grab opportunity is huge and everyone attending MWC this week knows the value of a 1% global decline in emerging markets as predicted by GfK, but who will dominate and buck this predicted trend in our brand-fickle world?

Written by Daniel Todaro

Read the full article at http://www.brandingmagazine.com/2014/02/25/mobile-world-congress-2014/

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