Toys, totems and telegraph poles

Date of publication: November 7, 2004

Author: Neil McPhee


The mobile telecoms marketplace is relatively new, very large and considered of major importance to economies across the world. However, marketing and sensitive research have not yet been embraced by mobile handset manufacturers, who continue to seek feature leapfrogging as a route to win the (long-term?) hearts and souls of their increasingly saturated customer base. If the search is simply for short-term market share, longer-term problems are guaranteed to follow and with the features list being the core of the offer, including the divergence issue, reliance on either price support on handsets or feature development will represent an expensive and low margin business.The neglected area must surely be the building of a sound, distinctive brand equity, allowing consumers to act out their self-imagery, rather than the current norm: using brand as a device for naming the products on offer. The research tools relevant to the search for meaningful differentiation also seem to be frequently avoided: handset providers seek solace in quantitative and process-orientated qualitative research, with minimal acknowledgement of the potential contribution that research into real consumer wants can bring. This paper examines how this might be rectified.

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