Mumbai: Finnish mobile phone maker Nokia's rural marketing has thrown up some insights and challenges that are now witnessing new features in Nokia's handsets. One such feature is multiple phone books that open on a single handset.
Nokia decided to go in for this feature, given its finding that in rural India, a handset is typically shared by two or more families, or all the members of a joint family, which necessitates separation of phone books basis the number of users.
Nokia has forseen the future in India as being rural, and plans on capturing the rural market as a core strategy. Previously, the company had launched hand sets that were designed to be used in dusty rural environs, and had a built-in torch, given the need for torchlights in rural India on account of a general lack of electrification.
According to Bob McDougall, sales director, Nokia India Private Limited, ''The rural market and its needs are very different. Along with specific handsets focusing on low-cost models, we are also setting up care centres and outlets to interact with the population, educate them and provide them with a great Nokia experience.''
Nokia's evident two-pronged strategy now sees it lead in the executive and premium segments with smart phones and GPS enabled navigators, and phones for the rural market.
A study commissioned by Nokia in January 2007, which was done by the Centre for Knowledge Societies revealed that seven major service sectors, including transport, finance and healthcare, could be radically transformed through mobile technologies. Nokia's other marketing initiatives include operating vans that enhance its reach into far-flung areas, and a wide product portfolio in the entry-level segment that is customised to suit people's budgets.
To give their rural sales a further push, McDougall says Nokia is looking at micro-finance opportunities with financial institutions. Besides, with seven global component suppliers slated to commence operations in Chennai, the manufacture of low – cost handsets might just get a leg up as well.