Nokia targets millennials with two new smartphones

We definitely see India as a cornerstone for our future growth,” said Florian Seiche, chief executive officer of HMD Global, the Finnish company that licensed the rights to produce Nokia phones since December 2016. “If you take Europe as a region, it is still our single largest region. If you take India as a single market, it is probably our single biggest market already,” he added. Keeping Florian company was Ajey Mehta, vice-president and country head — India. After the launch of Nokia 5.1 Plus and Nokia 6.1 Plus in New Delhi on Tuesday, the two of them told t2 why HMD Global is “bold and aggressive”.

By Mathures Paul
  • Published 23.08.18
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(L-R) Juho Sarvikas (chief product officer, HMD Global), Florian Seiche (chief executive officer, HMD Global), Ajay Yadav (Flipkart VP —- mobiles and large appliances) and Ajey Mehta (vice-president and country head — India)

We definitely see India as a cornerstone for our future growth,” said Florian Seiche, chief executive officer of HMD Global, the Finnish company that licensed the rights to produce Nokia phones since December 2016. “If you take Europe as a region, it is still our single largest region. If you take India as a single market, it is probably our single biggest market already,” he added. Keeping Florian company was Ajey Mehta, vice-president and country head — India. After the launch of Nokia 5.1 Plus and Nokia 6.1 Plus in New Delhi on Tuesday, the two of them told t2 why HMD Global is “bold and aggressive”.

Those born at the turn of the millennium will be the biggest consumer segment in a couple of years. How focused is HMD on this segment?

Florian: That is the segment we need to continue connecting with. Right now we are in the process of reaching out directly and increasing our fan base. We are building that outreach first. We believe there is a unique proposition at hand... right now the effort is to reach out to as many millennials as possible and make them use Nokia smartphones, which will help build loyalty.
Ajey: We believe in building loyalty while keeping the values of the brand intact... things like reliability and honesty. There is no reason why these same values can’t make us a household brand again. We did what was right at that point in time (the past) and now we are doing what is right at the moment.

Coming to your two new smartphones — the 6.1 Plus and 5.1 Plus — how did you plan them?

Florian: The new segment (youngsters) was on our mind. We asked ourselves what are young consumers looking for, what are the price segments they can afford and which are the places they look to buy phones from?
Ajey: The designs of these products (the new phones) are stunning with a full screen, offering an all-immersive experience. They offer a great imaging experience and has great specifications.  
The phones we have before us must have been planned well in advance. Technology evolves. How to find a balance between researching and actually releasing a phone?
Florian: The time between planning a phone and bringing it to the market is getting shorter. While we are working with Flipkart to market these two phones, at the same time we are talking to them and others about future products. We keep taking feedback from consumers but also important are inputs from key channel partners. 
On the phone itself there is a Nokia Mobile Care app, which is for troubleshooting and it is also a feedback channel. Millions of users are using the app and they are very active, leaving all sorts of valuable feedback.

So what new technology will we hear more about in 2019?

Ajey: There is a lot of talk around AI and how it impacts imaging, which is a core application of the phone. 
Florian: The other is voice-activated interactions with the phone. Voice is becoming an important way to interact with the device. How do you educate users to do something new? With voice, one can jump from a feature phone to a smartphone. Even if the user hasn’t used a smartphone before, voice interaction makes operations simple for them.

2017 was about shaping your distribution network. What about 2018?

Ajey: This year has been essentially about three things. First, expand our portfolio. Second, deepening our channel presence. Since Nokia.com/phones started, we have had a great number of engagements. At the same time we have strengthened our e-commerce partnership. Third is about innovation, which comes in the form of technology, marketing and business models. We keep thinking of things like if we go digital then do we use influencers or do we use brand ambassadors. For example, we went with KKR and it immediately took awareness 
levels up.
Florian: it is about being bold and aggressive and punching through. We cannot make use of traditional pricing models. So how do we make these phones work? We are constantly innovating.

There is a big discussion on around cutting down screen-time. How do you look at it?

Florian: It can be a great gift and a curse if overused. We just have to make sure people are using it in the right way. 
Ajey: It is about finding a balance.

Nokia 5.1 Plus

Powered by: MediaTek Helio P60 MT6771 octa core
Memory and storage: RAM — 3GB; storage — 32GB (MicroSD card up to 400GB) 
Display: 5.9” notched HD+
Camera: Rear — 13MP + 5MP; front — 8MP  
Battery: 3060mAh
Price: Euro 199 (coming in September; price to be announced)

Nokia 6.1 Plus

Powered by: Snapdragon 636
Memory and storage: RAM — 4GB; storage — 64GB (MicroSD up to 400GB)
Display: 5.8” FHD+ 
Camera: Rear — 16MP + 5MP; front — 16MP
Battery: 3060mAh
Price: Rs 15,999 (available August 30)