Changing the “Tecno” Mentality

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Tecno has just released its latest flagship, the Phantom 5, and there has been a social media buzz about the phone. While many have praised the company for their innovation, some hardliners are not convinced the phone would be a good buy, given what they referred to as its rather stiff price tag. “How can I spend N70,000 on a Tecno?” they ask. “Or, is it not Tecno?” they ask again.

Indeed the company is a trailblazer in pioneering medium-quality but affordable products for mid- and low-income earners. In a country with N18,000 as minimum age, this has been a blessing to many users who desire the status and other perks that come with owning and using a smartphone.

Time was when owning a smartphone was the ultimate status symbol. Many of you guys probably still remember the time, not really so long ago, when a girl would blatantly refuse to give you her phone number but will offer her blackberry pin instead, knowing fully well that you do not have a blackberry smartphone.

Tecno changed all that. Since its foray into the smartphone market, the company has made remarkable progress. A testament to the niche Tecno has created for itself was exemplified in the announcement in 2014 by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) that Tecno was the second most popular smartphone maker in Nigeria, claiming 26.1% of the market.

The smartphone market in the country is valued at N245billion. A brand that commands 26.1 percentage share of that market should be commended. After all, it is one of very many in the industry.

However, the company, like any other progressive-thinking commercial entity, is not satisfied with its market share; it aims to gain more ground by venturing into “uncharted” territory. With its Phantom range, the company hopes to compete favourably with global brands like Apple and Samsung for acceptance among the upper-middle and upper classes of the market.

To succeed in this herculean task, they must change people’s perception about their brand. The “is-it-not-Tecno?” and “It-is-a-Chinko phone” mentality is a mist that must be cleared from the mindset of these potential customers. And to do this may not be easy.

Funny enough, in this area, Tecno may have created this problem themselves. This is so because they initially launched with cheap products targeted at the masses, creating an impression they wanted just the low- and middle-end markets. Because people have grown to see them as such, it may become quite difficult to change this public perception of them. We are all creations of habit.

The Managing Director of Tecno Nigeria, Mr. Chidi Okonkwo said at the launch of the flagship phone earlier this month “Tecno PHANTOM 5 is a testament to continuous strives for excellence by bringing together the best minds and cutting edge technology through world class partnerships that deliver smart phone experience like never before.”

However the company must prove its “strive for excellence” to break into the premium market by: providing software upgrades for their smartphones’ operating system; engaging in aggressive marketing campaigns to change public perception; and producing phones with specifications that match or surpass their competitors’ in this market.

This is because, whether it likes it or not, Tecno has more to prove.

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John is a University of Lagos-trained journalist who has read almost every novel written by Chinua Achebe, Jeffrey Archer and Dan Brown. He's an expert Scrabble and draughts player who is also excellent at swimming.
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