This week’s post was originally going to have a Rocky theme, as I have been thinking of the Lumia 820 as Nokia’s Rocky phone - a “people’s champion” phone that would signal the start of their fightback against the smartphone version of Ivan Drago.
I’d even allowed myself the indulgence of a five minute Google trawl to find a suitable Rocky photo to give a visual anchor to the analogy. I liked this one myself.
Unbeknownst to me, the good folk at Nokia we thinking along similar lines and have launched a outdoor campaign in Berlin for the Lumia range under the tagline “Everyone loves a comeback”.
It’s not a bad idea. Nokia likely believe there is a groundswell of dormant public affection for the Nokia brand that could be re-activated by pairing the brand with the right phone. I think they're right, and the Lumia 820 could be that phone.
So why is the Lumia 820 the Rocky phone and not the 920?
I’m more bullish on the 820 mainly due to it being pitched at the £25 / month mid-range tier. In the top tier of £35+ / month, the Lumia 920 is slugging it out with the iPhone 5 and the Galaxy SIII. I think they’ll struggle to get customers to choose the 920 over competition of this strength. This makes the mid tier segment a great beach head for Nokia to stage their UK fightback.
So far so good with Nokia and the 820 Rocky phone. However there was something wrong with their marketing execution of the 820 / 920 Lumia launch that nagged at me, and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.
The answer came to me last Saturday, when I attended the Mumsnet BlogFest in London last Saturday. I was pretty much the only male attendee there, but the Mumsnet team were fantastic, and made me feel very welcome.
I attended for two reasons, firstly to get some technical tips on blogging and on-line marketing for this blog and the fledgling Tariff Hound on-line mobile technology recommendation business I’m building.
Secondly I wanted to talk to a large female audience about their technology needs to help me develop a hypothesis I have that mobile phones, tablets and other mobile communication devices are by and large poorly marketed to female consumers.
In my talks with the Mumsneters, two recurrent two technology needs came through. Firstly the need for technology to help better share information, and secondly the need for technology to help enhance family life by reducing friction points in day-to-day family life.
Windows Phone 8 is positioned well to help out on both these points. At the official Windows Phone 8 launch on the 30 October, Microsoft’s Windows Phone head honcho Joe Belfiore showed off two innovative features of Windows Phone 8 - Kids Corner and Rooms.
(Note: the following images are all courtesy of Engadget’s Liveblog of the event )
Kids Corner is kind of a separate account log-in for your kids. It allows you to put the phone into a “kids mode” state that gives kids access to a subset of your phone’s applications and functions - so they can access child appropriate apps (that you set), without you having to worry about them reading or sending emails, deleting contacts, purchasing apps, accessing inappropriate websites etc. - basically all the things a parent worries about when handing over their phone to keep a child amused.
Joes’ quote from the launch about the Kids Corner feature was:
"We went out and showed it to a bunch of parents, and we've never seen feedback more universally positive on any other feature."
The Rooms feature allows small groups such as family members to share services together like photos, calendars, and lists. Information stored in a Room can only be accessed by users invited to join the Room. I can see this feature also being popular with families.
Moving from the global launch of Windows Phone 8 to the UK launch, Microsoft have employed tv presenter Holly Willoughby to promote Windows Phone 8 in the UK. Here's a tv spot where she highlights the Kid's Corner feature.
In terms of marketing to female consumers, Microsoft are ticking a few boxes here. We have some innovative features in Windows Phone 8 that are clearly differentiated from the competition and likely to appeal to female smartphone buyers. They've been clearly described in a way that promotes the benefit they add to everyday family life, rather than couched in tech-speak.
(I think Kid's Corner would also appeal to fathers as well, however Microsoft UK have decided to promote the Xbox capabilities in their James Corden "mens marketing" variant of this spot).
Coming into the all-important Christmas buying period, the Microsoft Windows Phone 8 female consumer marketing compares well against current Apple consumer electronics spots. This is important as Apple have traditionally been better than Microsoft in getting women engaged with their products and brand.
For comparison, here's a blurry shot of an Apple iPod spot I took from the tube last Monday.
Well done Microsoft. Now let's compare Microsoft UK's marketing with Nokia UK's.
Many women like to connect and communicate via Facebook, so let's see how Nokia UK promote the Lumia 820 there.
Nokia's key positioning of the 820 is that it's a "versatile" phone. There must be a better way to introduce this phone to the UK public as opposed to pitching it as "versatile". What does this even mean?
Nokia helpfully go into a little more detail by explaining it has a camera, and maps. Hardly differentiated features in a smartphone. They then talk about "wireless charging shells", at which point the reader's eyes glaze over.
Perhaps the retail execution is a little better. I took a stroll into Carphone Warehouse and was confronted by these displays.
If I'd seen Holly's tv spot and come into a Carphone store, I'd be a little confused. None of the unique features mentioned in the advert seem to be being re-communicated in store. I bet there are a lot more people interested in learning about the "Kid's Corner" feature than wireless charging plates.
The Lumia 820 isn't designed to be a "women's phone" but it is a phone that should appeal strongly to women due to the unique features of Windows Phone 8 and the strong residual brand affection the UK public still have for the Nokia brand. At the £26 / month mid tier price point it should dominate this segment.
But Nokia's UK marketing campaign for the Lumia 820 seems tone deaf compared with Microsoft UK's equivalent campaign. Given the critical nature of the Windows Phone 8 success to Nokia in the UK, this is both surprising and alarming.
Microsoft chose a good spokesperson in Holly Willoughby to talk up the family friendly elements of Windows Phone 8. Nokia talks about wireless charging plates. Nokia needs to reconnect with their feminine side quickly if they want to stay relevant in the UK market.
At the moment Nokia are making the same mistake I did at the start of this post, in thinking that this story is all about Rocky when instead we need to be focusing on Adrian.