Nokia targeting billion customers in rural India
"This is a long term initiative which focuses on empowering rural India," said B V Natesh, Head, Emerging Markets Services, Nokia India. So what began as a pilot program last year has now been rolled across India possibly marking a first for any telecom handset maker and for others to follow as well. The thrust on rural markets in India comes even as the mobile density is around 40 percent with 450 million users thus providing ample scope for full throttle growth.
Most of the growth witnessed so far has taken place in urban areas, particularly major metros with teledensity going through the roof. "Rural in the next big opportunity. Everyone knows that. But the question is how to tap it. All the operators are aggressive. Bundling helps any handset player to create extra 'value' to lure the entry level consumers. But how does one create brand leadership for oneself in such a scenario without depending on others?" remarks Jitender Dabas, Vice President and Strategic Planning Director, JWT.
Nokia knows that if it needs to make money from rural markets, it has to play a role in augmenting the incomes of the target audience. And for that one can't merely rely on a transactional relationship but one that creates relevant value for them. Meanwhile, the industry is watching with interest on how exactly it pans out for Nokia. A senior official from a rival company sounds a note of caution. "Competing with operators is an altogether different story. Unless the value adds is something very unique, it will just be another fad which will fade away in sometime," he says, adding that mobile connectivity has ensured that farmers have access to information like mandi prices. "Further if one gets a plan with a close user group from operators, then why pay extra."
Nokia officials however counter that Nokia Life Tools becomes a retention platform by offering more and more services in the time to come. "The key is to create a base through constant engagement. Once it is achieved, the services can be bundled on all handsets sold in rural market," the official states.
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