Marketing in Story

Blackberry Nation – My Opinion of Blackberry Booming

Antrean BB Bellagio 2011

“Sudah ada 15 orang tumbang saat mengantre BlackBerry Bellagio atau Bold 9790 di Mal Pacific Place. Mereka kebanyakan mengeluh kaki kram dan sesak nafas. Loket penjualan sementara ditutup oleh polisi.” (Detik.com)

Blackberry is very booming now in Indonesia, so popular across age, gender, or other categorizations. Currently, it’s not a surprise seeing an elementary students are holding Blackberry in their hands. It is also the reason why Blackberry decide to launch their newest series in Indonesia last November 25th 2011. On that date, Blackberry succesfully “hypnotized” thousands of Indonesian people so they consciously queued at launching of Blackberry Bellagio “only” to get the newest series of Blackberry. In that event, we can see those people appeal the value of the first one in the world owning newest series of Blackberry and 50% discount offered. This phenomena once again prove that Indonesia is an extremely potential market of Blackberry, despite of the fact that there are still millions of people in Indonesia live in a very low Social Economical Status (SES).

Blackberry (BB) was sold in Indonesia first time on 2004. By the end of 2008 the growth of BB sales has increases amazingly. Numbers of people using BB is increasing everyday. It has become a trend to be BB user. If in the past people would ask your SIM card number, nowadays many people will ask only your PIN BB. I’ve ever read a joke on Facebook: If in the past, cover of college paper had to write down the student number, now you have to write down your PIN BB. BB become a new urban trend (or extremely speaking, a culture) now.

There are many triggers BB can be very popular in Indonesia. At the beginning I stated that people can be hypnotized by values offered by BB. The examples of appeal values offered to Indonesian people are being the first owner and 50% discount at the BB Bellagio launching. Of course those values are snippet phenomena of the BB booming in Indonesia. There are many other values that appeal people with BB. It is interesting to explore some factors how it become a trend in Indonesia.

Firstly, BB positioning was very important at the beginning. In the early time of BB in Indonesia, the target market of BB was business people. It could be seen from its unique feature that time, push e-mail. Push e-mail is a feature that support users to read mail without go to browser and sign in to the mail. It makes us easier to read and reply e-mail we received. Of course, it is really helpful for office/ business people who have to up to date with their e-mail. It is supported with the qwerty keypad so that people will easier typing in BB. These features are very appeal for business people. There’s still no (or a few) other mobile phone that had these features that time, so it made BB was so different with other smart phone.

Earlier, only higher class people had it in their hand since its price was expensive. The exclusive positioning stimulated middle class to use BB also just for pride. Not all middle class people know the real function of BB but craving for it because it is believed (or at least perceived) that people who used BB had exclusive impression. From one of my research projects, it is real that there are some people who use BB admit using BB only for pride or style. Actually, at the beginning, not much middle class people could afford the BB price. Fortunately, BB producer captured this potential market, so they made cheaper price BB series, like BB Gemini and BB Pearl. It made more people could afford BB product. Mostly, those people seems satisfied with BB product because they replaced their cheaper BB with more expensive series of BB when they already have more money. Clearly seen, the expansion of market by BB successfully influenced the growth of BB sales.

Beside offering the cheaper series of BB to middle class, BB is also cleverly “trick” middle class people with the tariff of Blackberry Internet Service tariff, especially Blackberry Messenger (BBM). This feature is very popular as the BB itself. BBM is the unique feature that BB has, so every BB user can message each other without using conventional SMS. When people have subscribed to Blackberry service, BBM can be used without any additional charge. Based on my experience, it is very interesting to see how some of my friends perceived the tariff they used for BBM. Some of my friends who recommended me to use BB because of the BBM feature told me that BBM is better than SMS because it is free. It is kind of illution so that my friends (maybe many other people) think that BBM is free of charge because in fact, they have to pay in advance. BB policy is cleverly “trick” people to think that when they’re using BB, they will pay cheaper than when they’re using other mobile phone. Of course, if middle class think that they will pay cheaper with using BBM, they will choose BB as their phone instead others.

Beside perception of price, actually BBM popularity is related with nature of Indonesian people. Nature of Indonesian people is having big need of interaction with others. Maybe it is why BB in western countries (that is more individualist) is not as popular as in Indonesia. BBM is very suitable to fulfill the needs of social interactions. It can make people connect easily. With only BB PIN, users can be connected automatically. Once they’ve connected, they can chat, send picture/ other files each other, and make a group. Apparently, those features are very appeal for Indonesian people.

Of course, BBM will not fulfill the needs of interactions if only a few people use it, so the pioneer users recommended its advantages using BB and of course the disadvantages of not using BB. The word-of-mouth (WOM) marketing of BB was very succesful because many popular people have used it, i.e. Barrack Obama. The buzz became louder and louder. Story like, Obama didn’t want to replace his BB with the official president’s phone enhanced the appeal of BB. We can see it is spreading like virus. For example, a BB user (Andy) tell his satisfaction story to his friends who trust him. It will persuade his friends to use BB also. After that, a friend of Andy, Tina become a BB user. Of course, Tina has other circles of friend, and she also want to use BBM with her other circles. Tina will also “infect” her friend with BB. At least one friend is likely to be “infected” and this person will “infect” other circles, and so on.

WOM of BB also success because people do conform (do the same with others/ social norms). Conformity happens in almost all cultures, but it will be bigger in socialist culture that the people is very concern what others think about them. As nature of Indonesian people, socialist, Indonesian will be afraid if they are different with their circles. So, they prefer to be the same with their circles. When they see some of people in their circles have used BB, it persuade them to be the same with their circles, that is, using BB. This conformity power is very big, so sometimes it is spontaneously done. Of course, it is advantage for BB

After the successful WOM marketing, BB has become a trend in Indonesia. According to diffusion model in picture 1, there always be people who follow the trend. Those followers make BB usages is still high. The innovators and early adopters in this case are the higher class people who have the BB before it become a trend. Early majority is middle class who have BB not so long after the bigger number of higher class people used it, they can be called as trend maker. Now, BB have become trend, so people who start using BB now is classified as late majority. Laggards are people who follow the trend when the trend is about to disappear, and now, the BB is still on the trend, so this kind of people haven’t appear yet.

Picture 1

This BB phenomena is very interesting to discuss. There are many other flows/ factors that make BB can be very popular in Indonesia (i.e. stuck of innovation of market leader, Nokia). My discussion above is only snippet of the many others posibility. However, from BB we can learn how timing of innovations, positioning, and accurate market targeting are the keys for the sales growth. After chaos launching of BB Belaggio, it is interesting to see what will next BB innovation for Indonesia, “Blackberry Nation”.

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