HTC aims for One (M8) marketing to transform it into a ‘thought leader’ brand

HTC is hoping the launch of its new flagship smartphone, the HTC One (M8), and corresponding marketing campaign that has shifted its communications to focus on the device’s design credentials rather than functionality will help it become a “thought leader” and boost its market share in the UK region to a “double digit” figure.

HTC One M8 Gold
The HTC One (M8) launched today (25 March).

The smartphone maker announced the high-end smartphone at a series of global co-ordinated unveil events today (25 March). Headline features of the five-inch device include an “aeroplane-grade” finish metallic body, a Duo Camera that includes a 5MP front-facing camera, a microSD card slot and four launch colours.

A global multi-platform marketing campaign, carrying the strapline “Feel It” launches this week to support the device, which HTC vice president of the UK, Nordic and partner markets Peter Frølund told Marketing Week will mark the brand’s biggest ever marketing spend – an increase on the reported $1bn activity starring Robert Downey Jr. to support predecessor flagship, the HTC One (M7).

The HTC One (M7) was the most plaudited smartphone of any launch last year, having won a series of awards from industry bodies and technology publications. However, its marketing efforts were diluted by delayed availability and being considerably outspent on advertising by rivals such as Samsung and Apple.

Frølund said HTC took lessons from 2013 – a year in which the Taiwanese company posted its first ever quarterly loss as it lost ground to competitors – and admitted the company had been “too sophisticated” in its marketing by trying to communicate too many features. That is why the forthcoming campaign will “100 per cent” focused on design and craftsmanship and why the brand will look to be more “bold and creative” in its marketing approach, he added.

The “bold” approach will be evident in an experiential activation set to launch in London later this week and corresponding digital and social activity, Frølund hinted.

This “boldness” is also represented in spend, as the activity will continue through HTC’s sponsorship of the UEFA Champions League and its renewed use of brand ambassador Robert Downey Jr. in activity planned for later this year.

Frølund hopes efforts such as these will help HTC achieve at least a 10 per cent market share in the UK by the year end – up from 9.1 in January, according to comScore (see box below) – and that the brand will come to be seen as a “thought leader in the industry”.

He added: “If you look at BMW and Tesla, people may still buy a BMW because it’s an easy or more conventional choice, but lots of people are talking about Tesla changing the car industry.

“We are not saying we want to be bigger than Apple or Samsung, we want to be recognised as a thought leader – doing useful things others have not done before, not just gimmicks.”

Ben Wood, chief of research at analysts CCS Insight, says the early indicators about the success of the new device are positive because the marketing campaign is “significantly more focused” than its predecessor [the HTC One (M7)] by emphasising its design credentials, but adds that HTC still has a mountain to climb.

He adds: “It must capitalise on the distinctive design and premium materials used on the HTC One (M8) compared to rivals. A key goal will be to capture consumers upgrading from Samsung’s Galaxy S3. Luring only a small proportion of these customers over to an HTC device would be a step in the right direction. “HTC will be hoping the positive sentiment towards the HTC One (M7) will act as a halo to a consumer’s purchasing decision when evaluating the HTC One (M8).”

Last month HTC’s vice president of global marketing Fiona Naughton told Marketing Week the company was embarking on a more “purposeful” marketing approach in an attempt to build love for the brand.

comScore smartphone market share box out

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