HTC is banking on an increase in brand awareness for its new One Mini handset (pictured, far right) to be a success, following a poor financial performance in recent years.
The Taiwanese manufacturer unveiled its latest smartphone last week against a backdrop of corporate uncertainty and declining profits. Its predecessor and big brother, The One, was heralded for its sleek design and impressive functionality but has failed to kickstart a turnaround in its finances.
Speaking to Mobile, Graham Wheeler, director of commercialisation product management, said the manufacturer had been striving to rebuild its brand. While HTC was one of the pioneers of the Android ecosystem, it has lost considerable ground in recent years to rival smartphone makers. Among its recent marketing activity has been a sponsorship deal with UEFA for the Champions League. HTC has also stepped up its television activity.
Wheeler said: ‘Our brand awareness has jumped up to 80%. Among the younger audience - our target audience really - it’s up at 87%, an all time high for us. We’re really much more aware of it, and they’re really much more aware of HTC.’
The Mini comes after HTC reported a further decline in its profits. During the second quarter of 2013, its bottom line tumbled by 83%. Despite repeated questions about how HTC would sell the Mini into stores or whether it could help turn the business around, Wheeler refused to comment. He said ‘intent to buy had doubled since the HTC One launch’, while ‘94% of HTC One owners would recommend the handset’.
The move into releasing a more competitively priced and lower specced device to a beefier flagship has raised suggestions that HTC might follow a similar route to market leader Samsung, which has created numerous incarnations of the Galaxy S4, as well as other previous flagship handsets. However, with a spec not far off the original One device, Wheeler said that the Mini ‘offers no compromise in experience and great value for the customer’.
IDC analyst Francisco Jeronimo said HTC still has some problems with its image. He said: ‘In terms of portfolio it has great products. Portfolio is not the problem. HTC has three issues: brand, point of sale, and supply chain.‘HTC doesn’t have the money to compete in terms of publicity. It’s difficult with Samsung and Apple in the market who have the brand and the money to invest in point of sale and advertising.’
Jeronimo said that this was improving under chief marketing officer Benjamin Ho, who joined the company last year. He said Ho’s strategy was clearer than predecessors but added: ‘It’s going to take time to implement.’
He said the manufacturer was still suffering from supply chain issues that initially held up the launch of the One earlier this year. He said: ‘If customers went in store to purchase the One and were told they would have to wait a few weeks for it then the chances are they went for something else similar. Hopefully this doesn’t happen with the Mini.’
Author: Matthew Campelli