From a utility item to style statement to office on the move – the mobile phone has come a long way. Mobile phone makers are having a tough time keeping up with growing demand for phones that match consumers’ lifestyle, hence the frequent launch of new models and feature rich phones.
And the choice couldn’t get more difficult – a Chocolate or a PEBL, or Sony’s Walkman phone, or Samsung’s recently launched world’ slimmest phone or the feature rich Nokia N-Series.
H S Bhatia, Product Group Head (National), GSM Mobile Phones, LG Electronics India, said, “With user lifestyle on an upswing, there is acceptance of new products and newer technology in the market. The consumer, too, is becoming conscious and believes in making a style statement. Today, mobile phones are a fashion statement. Since fashion and trend is not steady and changes every now and then, mobile manufacturers are also launching advanced features and sleek designs.”
“The mobile industry has always been dynamic in terms of design and features. Of late, most manufacturers are launching 2-3 phones every quarter because today’s consumer has become more demanding. Higher incomes and easy financing options have made it easier for the consumer to possess trendier gadgets,” he further said.
According to Asim Warsi, DGM-Marketing, Samsung Telecommunications India, “Mobile phone usage has seen a shift from just being a basic communicator tool to the fashion and personality statement. With the ergonomic design, today’s consumers are demanding hi-fi music, mega pixel camera, wider screen, high colour resolution, TV out function and higher memory loaded phones. This shift in usage has not only reduced the life cycle of the phones, but also let to an upsurge in the replacement market. To match the pace of this change in market, companies keep launching phones at regular intervals. We at Samsung believe that Slim with Substance is in now and all our phones that have been launched recently fall under this category only.”
Sudhir Agarwal, Director-Sales, India, Nepal & Sri Lanka, Motorola Mobile Devices, said, “The Indian audience today is very clearly bifurcated into the rural, mid and upper segments. We have a vast and varied product portfolio to cater to all strata. However, I would like to bring your notice to the fact that the urban and mid segments are upwardly mobile. We believe this consumer will now evolve to view the mobile phone as a style quotient of his personality.”
Agarwal further said, “Today, the consumer is not buying the phone for only features. He has moved to the next plane of consciousness where the mobile phone is concerned. He is interested in the looks/design of the device that he is carrying, he is very conscious of his image and style quotient in society.”
Namrata Suri, Director (Marketing Communication), Haier Telecom, which is a relatively new entrant in the market, said, “Mobile handsets market in India has always seen a lot of activity, this is nothing new. The Indian customer is very discerning and the mobile phone manufacturers constantly try to meet the emerging market requirement. This is the basic reason for such innovative products being launched.”
Motorola’s Agarwal pointed out, “By 2007, mobile telephony will cover 85 per cent of the country. This shows that the Indian mobile industry is growing at an exponential rate. It is the second fastest growing market after China. Each month there are 4-5 billion new subscribers. Today, these set of consumers are educated, intelligent, technology savvy, and know what they want. It is for this discerning individual that we are constantly innovating.”
With so many options available in the market, how do handset manufacturers make their phones stand out? LG’s Bhatia said, “The LG brand name stands for reliability and state of art technology. LG’s phones are a right mix of technology, style and pricing and hence they click easily with the market. However, phones are not lifetime products as the replacement market holds a very imperative position in India. Today, changing mobile phones every six months to one year is the latest trend among the youth as they want to possess the trendiest handsets available in the market. So, keeping that in mind manufacturers continuously have to innovate to keep the consumer enthusiastic about the brand.”
Haier Telecom’s Suri also highlighted the significance of continuous innovations in order to meet customer expectation.
Warsi of Samsung said, “Nowadays consumers are more focused and clear on their requirements. So, the focus of companies has moved from mass branding to the focused segment branding matching the specific demand of the consumer. It is quite evident that the person looking for the music phones will have different set of requirements than those who are looking for smart phones. In such scenario, where the market became heterogeneous and handsets have been more of fashion statements companies with strong global brand identity along with the innovative phones with features will only be able to retain the customers and keep them excited.”