Although the mobile phone is no longer just a phone, with smart phones, PDAs, and full-fledged digital cameras masquerading as devices that also accept calls, there’s no other technology product that’s been able to invade the masses so successfully. Whether it’s the basic Rs. 1,000 phones, or the Rs. 40,000 flaunt value gadgets, almost everyone and their uncle own one of these gadgets.
Obviously, being one of the most bought technology items, the mobile phone category is also one of the most hotly contested, with brands fighting it out tooth and nail for every decimal of a percentage of the market share. Add to that India’s ridiculous population, with vast numbers of people in the target age group and income bracket for phone manufacturers, and you can understand why this category is such a joy to observe for us.
Nokia did it again — translate that into Hindi for a funnier meaning. All said and done, here’s one brand that remains unchallenged in the mobile segment. Although Sony Ericsson comes in second, it would be a lie to say it was a close second. In all five of our parameters — awareness, credibility, loyalty, satisfaction and TCO (total cost of ownership) — Nokia stood alone at the top, enjoying the view. The real question for this category is, however, can Nokia afford to be as comfortable at the top as it was for the last few years? The simple answer is, no.
Sony Ericsson came in second in most parameters, and was no lower than third in any of the five. What this means is that for once, we have a clearer runner-up, which is not something the Nokia guys will ignore, no matter how far ahead they are. The only times SE was displaced from its runner up slot were in the credibility and TCO parameters. It’s very interesting to note that Apple seems to have more credibility than SE amongst our respondents — quite a feat considering Apple has basically just one phone model to its name! As for TCO, Samsung edged out SE by a smidge, giving us the impression that Samsung owners just spend less on repair and maintenance after purchase.
Samsung rose two ranks this year to come in third, just edging out Apple, who is our biggest climber — leap-frogging 3 ranks up from last year. BlackBerry fell two spots, and Motorola and LG have both slipped a notch from last year — thanks mainly to Apple’s rise. We also saw two new entrants, Intex and HTC/Dopod. The latter shot straight into sixth place, which is commendable for a brand that not many could identify with in last year’s survey. Also, we have to mention ASUS, who climbed an impressive two spots this year, validating their increased efforts in this category.
Despite being bombarded with advertisements of your favourite Bollywood star, coaxing you to buy from the brands they endorse, we’re happy to report that the respondents of our survey all seemed quite educated about all the brands in the market. “What choice do we have?”, you might ask, because when you go out to buy a mobile phone in just about any price bracket, you’re literally bombarded with way too many options. You have to read up, or ask knowledgeable friends about the choices, because you certainly cannot know everything about every handset out there, especially since there seems to be one new model releasing every other day.
No surprise then, when it came to awareness, the advertising bucks being spent seem to be paying off, and the top three were Nokia, Sony Ericsson and LG. Not all ad budgets seem to have paid off though, surprisingly, with Samsung and Motorola at ninth and twelfth place respectively.
In both unaided and aided recall, Nokia scored a perfect hundred per cent — every single respondent added Nokia when asked to list the brands he/she knew of. Now that’s brand awareness.
When it came to credibility, people felt that Apple the most technologically advanced of all brands, was the most stylish and also the most innovative. Nokia fought back in terms of build quality, sturdiness, responsiveness to consumer needs, and ease of use.
Nokia also trounced the rest when it came to satisfying customers by making their models and information about them easily available. Nokia and Sony Ericsson sales people also seem to be the most informed, and the after-sales support is also ranked in that order.
In terms of loyalty, Samsung was the brand that people most wanted to buy other products of, but Nokia and Sony Ericsson were the two brands that people wanted to buy cell phones of again later. Nokia and SE were also the two brands that everyone wanted to suggest to friends and family to purchase.
In terms of TCO, Nokia was on top, but Samsung edged ahead of Sony Ericsson. Apple fell to last place in the cost battle, with almost everyone rating it at the worst cost of ownership scale. What this means is that although Apple has a very trusted and credible phone, everyone thinks it’s way too expensive to buy and maintain.
A resounding victory for Nokia in the end, but we can’t wait for next year, and hope that one of the others can give them a run for their money — stiff competition between brands is what brings joy to the consumer, after all.