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Mobile player sets big targets for Hong Kong

In what may be its most ambitious plan in Hong Kong, TCL Communication is making a move into the mid-range smartphone market in a big way, with a new brand campaign for its smartphone arm Alcatel One Touch.

Dubbed “Smart Move”, the campaign aims to deliver the smartphone vendor’s attitude of simplicity and trendy, through a series of TV campaigns, print ads, sponsorship and social media extension.

Speaking to Marketing, Dan Dery (pictured), vice president and CMO of TCL Communication, said the biggest difference for the brand from current crop of smartphone manufacturers is its focus on a mass market.

“We have some competitors who have flagship models and a range of high-end products, as well as some cheap smartphones companies only advertise with their low price.

“We, however, are serving the people in between both levels who can not afford the high-end ones but look for quality ones at the best price.”

Dery half jokingly describes Alcatel One Touch position in the market as similar to clothing brand H&M, since they share the same target group of style-conscious and pocket friendly products.

“Technical features such as tech specs and chipset will never be included in our consumer communication because these are not what the mass market looks for. Instead, they care more about the aesthetic of products and what those products can do for them.”

As a newcomer in the local market which has only been introduced to Hong Kong earlier in January this year, the first thing to do is to build up awareness and visibility for the brand, said Dery, but brand image itself is not enough.

“It is more important to put our marketing budget on actual product communication to our consumers then to merely create awareness via advertising or movie’s product placement. What our products can really do to them matters more to our target customers”.

In order to deliver messages in the clearest and simplest way, specific names were strategically adapted on each Alcatel model that speak for their values and attitudes, including Idol (Stylish design), Pop (Simplicity) and Hero (High specs).

“In the smartphone competition it is very difficult for consumers to make a choice. Catering to mass market, we set up these corresponding names to explain the significant functions and benefits delivered from each model in a simpler way for our target customer to understand easily,” he explained.

Since the acquisition in 2005, Alcatel has established a considerable presence and performance in Europe and especially in Latin America, amounting to 15% market share in the region. Sales in Mexico in particular are climbing from number two to the top overall.

The smartphone arm has been leveraging its global presence to break into Asia Pacific, where sales are mainly driven by Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia.

In APAC, Dery admits that market share in the region remains low at around 1.4% in Q2, but growth he said “is just a matter of time”.

“Our revenue has increased 18% from Q4 2012 and another 40% in Q2 this year; our smartphone volume was also doubling every quarter starting from 1.5 million in Q4 2012 to 3.4 million in Q2 2013. With this new family of smartphone and new marketing strategy, I believe we are getting there,” he said.

The performance indicator of the campaign lies at what it called “spontaneous brand awareness”, a consumer purchase intention index that would be measured region by region.

“Our intention is very clear. Basically we just want people to think about Alcatel One Touch when they think about buying a smartphone.”

It is still “too early” to measure the results, but this kind of unique approach maybe the only way for mid-tier telecom companies to earn a seat at the smartphone market table.

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