Take one of the most visible items of conspicuous consumption, create an even more exclusive, expensive and more importantly “blingy” limited edition of an already “limited or premium” model and in today’s wealth boom you might add $100mn to your top-line just like that. But make sure you skew supplies to the “noveaue rich” economies- the dragon, the elephant, the bear, a certain West African state and the land of Black Gold.
I am not talking of an uber premium hand bang or diamond ring. I am referring to the Sirocco series of the NOKIA’s 8800 model (originally launched in 2004), which was launched in September 2006. Now they have launched an 18k gold plated version retailing at £850( yes, you read it right). There are 2 other versions – black and light, priced at £600. My prediction – 100,000 of these will be snapped up in no time.
The Gold model is clearly positioned on bling and exclusive value. It is pitched as an evolution of the impeccable design heritage (of the 8800). The only change (i.e.the evolution) vs. the original 8800 model is the addition of an 18k real gold envelope/coating on the stainless steel body. No technological improvements are mentioned in the print ad vs. the original 8800 model, but a quick look at the Nokia website re-assures that it is functionally quite up to date.
Nokia has done its consumer research well. Not everyone is buying phones for their features – better camera lens, higher storage capacity etc. There are enough rich people who will pay for the show-off and exclusive value of such a mobile phone, if it comes with good core functionality and from a reliable and respected brand. So with no new significant investment in product design (hardware as well as software), Nokia potentially has incremental $100mn in revenues.
If my prediction (of the sales volume) turns out to be true, it will partly prove what I have always believed – “Innovation” is hyped too much and is just another “fad” in a long line of management buzzwords. A whole bunch of things which good companies were already doing in the normal course of driving growth, are now clubbed under the broad umbrella of Innovation.
The Nokia 8800 Sirocco Gold is simple and smart thinking based on good consumer understanding and category insights. This is still the cheapest way to drive growth. You don’t need management tomes on Innovation and a massive re-wiring of your organization to churn out such initiatives. In today’s innovation obsessed management world, this is perhaps an example of “incremental” innovation ( as opposed to radical innovation). As long as the consumer likes it and it builds business, does it matter what we call it.
The Sirocco series has been marketed well in general. There was (apparently) product placement in Casino Royale and there have been charity auctions of celebrity signed limited editions. They also created a special Lamborghini edition. In India, the gold version can only be bought via pre-booking. The only slight niggle I have is on the print campaign. The advertising copy as well as the product shot is average, at best. Copy could have been more evocative and the product shot more alluring (i.e. in the same league as shots of luxury watches, jewelry, and perfumes in the glossy magazines). Media placement also is not stellar. I have noticed the advertisement two times now – once in TIME and the second time in NEWSWEEK. Not sure these are the right publications given the target audience. Also, a dedicated web site would have helped to synergise better with the print campaign. Its a bit deflatory to be directed to the normal Nokia site when you type “Nokia Sirocco” in Google.