The magic of brand loyalty


We are all slaves to perception. What you perceives essentially drives your actions.  Yes, we can think through the issues and mitigate perceptions so that you can derive at a fair decision.

My very first mobile phone, a GSM phone nonetheless, was from Motorola that I bought in 1995 when the organization I was with insisted that management folks use a mobile phone.  My solution to this was to get a phone that was working in the 1800 MHz range instead of the 900 MHz range.  The reason was that the 1800 service from SingTel was not widely available in Singapore and I had the perfect excuse for not being reachable. But as the usage of the phone increased and as our first son was about to arrive, it became untenable that I have a phone but not usable sometimes because of coverage.

That prompted me to relook the phone and asked around to see what I should be getting.  A good friend of mine, Mathias, suggested looking at Nokia. So, I went ahead and acquired a Nokia and a new cell phone # in 1997. I don’t recall the model number, but it was a world apart from the Motorola. It had a very intuitive menu system, quite the difference from the Moto.

I was sold on the Nokia. All my subsequent phones were Nokias (except for one mistake in getting an Ericsson) and I was really happy with them. Nokia 3210, 6120 etc.  We were a Nokia family. I really wanted to get the N800 and other Nokia smart phones, but they were pricey and out of my budget range (even with mobile operator subsidies). My family was happy with the Nokias we had.  I had even helped to start the gnokii.org project in 1998.

My last Nokia phone which I still use is the E61 which is a really nice Symbian 60-based phone that works well for all I need to do.

But in 2009 or so, when Google launched their phone and was available in Singapore through SingTel, I went for it.  Google One (HTC Dream phone) worked well.  I still have it but I am not using it. As soon as Google themselves launched their Nexus One in 2010, I ordered it directly from Google and that continues to be my phone of choice.

I have been looking forward to Nokia coming out with their MeeGo phones later this year and I would have bought it for sure. It is all about both a sense of brand loyalty and being a satisfied customer. A repeat customer is such a valuable asset.  Why do we, as a family, continue with Colgate toothpaste all these years? it serves it’s purpose. We are satisfied customers. Lather, rinse and repeat.  That would have been the same thing with Nokia. But not now.

The selling out of the Nokia business by their CEO Elop to a partnership with Microsoft has killed this brand loyalty [Nokia eloped with Microsoft!].  Sure, my brand loyalty is just one person (and perhaps my family), but the backlash I am seeing across others is quite shocking.  People who use Nokia phones and were contemplating iPhones or Androids were holding out for Nokia to put out their MeeGos.

And here’s a snippet of a conversation I heard this morning in the MRT: “No, actually, there is nothing wrong with my Nokia phone. I know my nephews and nieces all use iPhone and Android phones and they make fun of me and my Nokia. I did read that Nokia was to come out with a phone to challenge Apple and Google. But today I read in the papers that Nokia will be making a Microsoft phone. You know, I have *never* seen anyone with a Microsoft phone ever. I already use Microsoft stuff in my home PC and it is so slow.  When the Nokia phone has Microsoft in it, it will be slow. For sure. Stupid, really stupid.”

It’s really hard to earn brand loyalty and is, in general, eroded gradually and does not end abruptly.  Nokia’s brand loyalty was slowly eroding in the face of Androids and iPhones. The fact that Elop has said that the platform is burning simply meant that Nokia can burn much faster instead on a Microsoft platform than with anything else. Nokisoft or Microkia or whatever abomination it will be is DOA.

Do check out this very interesting analysis of the business and Nokia Plan B.

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