Beyond the Pink Phone: Handset Branding for Female Mobile Youth ® MOBILEYOUTH youth marketing mobile culture since 2001 By Graham Brown mobileYouth http://www.mobileYouth.org
Handset Branding after The Pink Phone There are over 1 billion female mobile owners in the world aged under 30. On the basis of this data alone, we could assume the mobile industry "gets" women. Is this really the case? In this article I look at the current roadblocks to progress and the 3 things handset brands need to be focusing on to win this market. img (c) Flickr Sophe89Back in September 2011, we introduced the “Pink Phone Syndrome” in our ebook “Influence: A Marketer’s Guide” The first mass market pink phone was Motorola’s V3. In the UK alone, it shifted 400,000 units – raising the bar for the handsets that followed suite. But, that was back in 2007 and the market has moved on considerably in the last 5 years. Handset manufacturers now have to go deeper but many are still falling short when it comes to the lucrative female market.
Have Creative Agencies Locked Handset Brands in a 70s Timewarp? Take a look around the app stores and you’d be forgiven for thinking the mobile world had sprouted a parallel Universe that was somehow stuck in the 70s. In this world of Vinolay and polyester shirts, technologists try to “engage” young women with calorie counting apps, calming form factors and, you got it, the resurgent pink phone. Handset manufacturers need to scrutinize the “thought leadership” provided by their creative agencies. Ad Agency JWT’s latest piece on “Always On Women” highlights how brands like Nokia (JWT’s client) are being fed insights that hold them captive in this parallel Universe like Jim Carrey in a 70ʹ′s version of “The Truman Show”. The white paper focuses on women as “family chroniclers”, that their key drivers are camera phones to take pics of babies. It stops short of recommending Nokia focus on cute kittens. Handset Branding for the Next 10 Years Comparing traditional handset marketing to females (favored by creative agencies) with marketing with females
Reality Check: What Creatives Say About Females Isn’t Important Anymore According to our data, 62% of youth buy handsets not because of what the agency says but because of what their friends say. Handsets need to derive their insights from what the key influencers are saying not what creative agencies think they might be saying. Developing mobile phones for women can be fraught with error because most handset brands are focusing on the wrong things. Here are the 3 things handsets have been consistently getting wrong with women over the last 10 years, or as we call it “The Pink Phone Syndrome”: 1) Developing phones for female mobile owners 2) Focusing on content (e.g. pink, curves, calorie apps, baby pics) and relying on the creative agency to sell this content as a key point of difference 3) Targeting all females rather than the key change agents who influence the market 3 Things Handset Brands Should Focus On: So, what should handsets be focusing on? Based on 10 years of mobileYouth research, here are the top 3 priorities for any handset brand looking to capture the female segment: 1) Focus on what you do not what you say: Women aren’t buying the phone, they’re buying what the phone does for them. Most women don’t want pink phones, they want phones that deliver great experiences. Although JWT would tell you differently, there are female mobile owners interested in other stuff – like travel, adventure, PHP, design or starting their own business. What females want are phones that help them belong, help them be significant and if that’s with a pink phone, then so be it. There are women for who “women’s issues” aren’t the most important thing in the world. There are also moms who want to have a life outside of motherhood. If you look at our latest SMART index research data you’ll find the most popular models are Blackberry (i.e. “Dad’s phone”) and the iPhone. Neither pampers to the female market. 2) Target and measure the key change agents shaping your brand story: Customers are the brand. Handsets need to identify the core female change agents that shape the phone’s context – the influencers who control the 62%. In the mobileYouth report we profile the role of the Disruptive Divas and how they act as the critical interface between
phone and the mass market. Divas were first to market with mobile social networking, BBM and BBM groups. Divas also don’t buy pink phones. By applying tools such as the mobileYouth MAP (Measure – Articulate – Plan) you can use EMIs (Earned Media Indexes) to identify and measure your existing positions of strength the female market. 3) Immerse marketing and research within their daily context of their social lives: mobileYouth’s MAP tools employ ethnographic techniques to help young female mobile owners tell their story. These insights help brands identify the key sales messages, existing lines of influence and also, importantly, behaviors and trends. In a recent study in the USA we employed mobileYouth MAPs that helped our client identify emerging video chat trends being led by female teens. A clear pen profile of these influential users helped the client develop a clearer picture of the key drivers, messages and lifestyles as the basis for marketing and product development rationale.