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Nokia Says Georgia is an Important Market

Published: November 4, 2013 | 8:19 am
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The COMMERCIAL TIMES

Exclusive

Nokia, which was once synonymous with mobile phones, fell far behind as smartphones became more and more popular, and was overtaken by Samsung as the leader on the mobile phone market. A bet on Microsoft software failed to improve Nokia’s market share. Reportedly, now the Finnish brand is giving up its phone business to Microsoft in early

2014. In September this year, US-based Microsoft said it will acquire a substantial part of devices and services business of Nokia for 5.44 billion euros ($7.17 billion) in cash, in an effort to strengthen its position on the smartphone market. The COMMERCIAL TIMES interviewed Mr. Omar Rostom, the Consumer Engagement Manager and Media Manager of Nokia in the Near East, North Africa, & Levant.

 

– What are your expectations regarding the Nokia-Microsoft deal on handing the phone business to the software and PC giant?

– We’re hoping that it’s going to be something good for both companies. However, there is no deal at the moment; it has been sent for approval to regulators. It’s the nature of the industry, everything changes very quickly. There’s no telling what comes next. Companies are always looking for ways to be more competitive. I think this is another step in this direction. We’re on the right track.

– Nokia is the Finnish brand connecting over 1.3 billion people worldwide. How important can

a relatively small market like Georgia be for your company?

– Georgia is a very important market for us and so are our Georgian consumers. The country has already reached 40% internet penetration. I find it interesting that there are lots of similarities with the Jordanian market in this respect. It’s a period when our consumers are learning as lots of changes are happening. This is a very exciting time. The upcoming period is of a lot more heavy involvement for the mobile phone industry. In addition to calls and other basic functions, mobile phones are turning into devices that are used for everything. When you look at the countries that I work for, you can see how internet and mobile penetration has increased and it has dramatically changed the way companies manage marketing.

– Does Nokia allow production of advertising material locally in the different countries that it operates in?

– Nokia has one consistent brand, name and position. The other side is that we want to look locally relevant. We try to avoid the creation of something new because it also creates a bit of inconsistency. Lots of times you find that channels are shared and you might get different Nokia adverts on the same channel and confuse consumers. We decided to make our adverts more or less same for all markets, but when it comes to activation and local plans, all of that happens on a country-to country basis because consumers are not same everywhere.

– How does Nokia conduct consumer dialogue strategy through advertisements? Which media would you say works best for marketing means?

– Advertising works best when you combine all types of media tools together to deliver the message. We’ve seen hugely successful campaigns of this kind. At the end of the day, there is no one media that does everything because some are more engagement-based like facebook, but in developed countries access to social media is not as big as of TV. When you look at the media today, touchpoints here are integrated. For example, in the United States H-tag is very popular. When people watch TV they can share there opinion and comment on twitter behind a particular

H-tag. If in the past everything was scattered and functioned separately, now we’re seeing that integration is taking place.

– How should you know that a particular advertisement is costeffective?

– Advertising is as cost-effective as the marketer is using it. Even a digital ad can be very ineffi cient if you’re doing it wrong. The basic principle is to get a healthy balance and to really understand what your target audience is interested in and to deliver the message on that level. One of the things that should not happen is that marketers a lot of times tend to focus on creation and millions are spent on it and when it comes to airing time they do not spend as much. This does not make sense. What’s the point of having a beautiful advertisement if no one is going to see it?

– How helpful is celebrity endorsement?

– When we do celebrity endorsement we do it on a global level. We’ve worked with Nicki Manaj in New York. It tends to be quite expensive and we’re trying to find the platform for everyone to benefit from rather than on a country-by-country basis.

– What are the main messages to be put in ads so it catches the eye?

– I am a very big believer of content marketing. At the end of the day you cannot force any message down the consumer’s throat. If consumers do not like the commercial they will change the channel, if they do not like the ad in the newspaper or magazine, they will flip through it and same is with online or any other media. It’s important to pay attention to what consumers are interested in and deliver messages that are both educational and entertaining. We ran a study in Egypt in 2011 with Yahoo to understand the reason why people go online and what we found was that the number one reason was information, while the second point of interest was entertainment. These were the two primary motivators. So, it makes sense that when you’re communicating with people, you don’t disrupt the journey they are taking, you become a part of it.

For example, the number one mostwatched video on youtube is the Gangnam Style. There are artists who spend a lot more money to create songs but do not succeed much. It’s really about finding something that people enjoy.

– In brief, what is Nokia’s marketing strategy based on?

– Our marketing approach at Nokia is to build great experiences for our consumers. Our view on marketing is not just about pushing a product or a consumer. We really believe in a quote by a communications strategist who said that companies do not own brands anymore; it’s consumers who own them. That’s the reality and this is something that we recognize. According to our approach, marketing is more about engaging the consumer and not about force-feeding them with a particular message.

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