Brand Health Check: HTC

HTC: sales drop
HTC: sales drop

The smartphone-maker has lost momentum and failed to impress in the US.

HTC has begun to falter as Samsung and Apple strengthen their stranglehold on the smartphone industry.

The Taiwanese manufacturer posted a sales drop of 22% from the third to the fourth quarter of last year, and has said it expects another significant quarterly fall in the first three months of this year.

HTC's fortunes have suffered of late after its devices based on its fourth-generation LTE network failed to gain traction in the key US market.

Sales of these handsets, which allow faster data streaming, have proved unpopular due to their comparatively short battery life.

HTC is banking on regaining its former strong standing in the market in the middle of this year, predicated on the successful launch of a long-awaited flagship device.

The Endeavour handset, which will use the Android operating system, is expected to contain a range of new features that will make it a more potent rival to the Apple iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy S3, also widely expected to be released in 2012.

HTC also faces a battle on a second front, against low-end Chinese manufacturers such as ZTE and Huawei.

As a result, it is now believed to be weighing up the merits of releasing fewer handsets and focusing on 'hero' devices.

The company recently began branching out by launching devices on the Windows Phone operating system; a slight shift of focus from its previous strategy of being the champion of the Android platform.

Is a policy of redefining its focus the best way for HTC to regain its mojo? We asked former Research in Motion EMEA brand engagement manager Matt Jones, now managing partner at Monk Brand Engagement, and Wieden & Kennedy planning director Kevin Chesters, who worked as lead planner on Nokia.


MATT JONES, MANAGING PARTNER, MONK BRAND ENGAGEMENT (ex-brand engagement manager at Research In Motion)

HTC was seen as the new kid on the block, offering a desirable range of flagship devices and the 'best of' its competitors. Almost overnight, it ate into the market share of competitors Apple, Samsung and BlackBerry and at an impressive rate. It's not really a surprise the bubble has now burst, however. In a turbulent market, HTC has been unable to differentiate itself as it once did. It needs to get back to where it was, capitalising on an aspirational 25- to 35-year-old audience, with entry-level to mid-range devices. Otherwise, expect a wave of Eastern competitors such as ZTE to quickly come into the market, using HTC's proven route.

Retention is now key for HTC. With a smaller marketing budget than some rivals, it must find a way to shout about its upcoming high-spec portfolio. It needs to keep hold of market share in the build-up to its launch of a new 'social hybrid' device with Facebook.



- Continue to focus on developing desirable phones and openness to collaborate with partners. This gives more value to the user.

- Tell the brand and music story. So many telecommunications brands treat an audience's passion-points (music) as a superficial 'quick win' to launch a device. HTC's $300m acquisition of a 51% share in Beats last August will resonate with its audience.

- There are more than 800m active Facebook subscribers. The promotion and anticipation for its 'social hybrid' device will be incredible, but it could go either way.


KEVIN CHESTERS, PLANNING DIRECTOR, WIEDEN & KENNEDY (who has worked as lead planner on the Nokia account)

I was surprised to hear about the HTC business being in trouble. It has a very solid set of products and a good base to work from.

The brand came from nowhere in 2009 and is now worth roughly twice as much as Nokia. Yet in trouble HTC is, according to its first-quarter results.

I was less surprised to hear about the brand suffering. HTC has never really done any proper, stand-out work with, or to, consumers to establish what it is asking people to buy in to (beyond good phones from those folk from Taiwan).

Its brand trouble stems largely from not having a solid identity. What is HTC and what does it stand for - maverick challenger? Solid middle-man? Android champion? Jack-of-all-trades? Clearly all of those.

Now that all phones are smart, all ecosystems are smart (apart from Symbian) and all manufacturers offer good deals, HTC needs to go beyond its previous efforts. It's a crowded market, and full of unimaginative advertisers, with deep pockets, doing expensive, generic ads that don't differentiate in any way. Finding a more interesting way to connect is key.



- Find your voice - it is far too generic right now. Be a company people can buy in to, not just from.

- Be confident - the products are really good (always a good start from my experience in the sector).

- Don't try to advertise your way out of the problem - budgets are too small. Do something more interesting instead.


Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus
Brand Republic Jobs

subscribe now


John Lewis walks consumers through its history to celebrate 150 years of business
Waitrose boosts content strategy with 'Weekend Kitchen with Waitrose' C4 tie-up
Hottest virals: Cute puppies star in Pedigree ad, plus Idris Elba and Fruyo
Amnesty International burns candles to illuminate new hope
Toyota achieves the impossible by calming angry Roman drivers
Tom of Finland's 'homoerotic' drawings made into stamps
YouTube reveals user habits to appeal to 'older' marketers
Ex-M&S marketing chief Steven Sharp consulting at WPP
Wolff Olins reveals new CEO after Apple poaches Karl Heiselman
Glasgow offers £30,000 prize to best digital idea for 2014 Commonwealth Games
Google's revenues surge but shares drop as it grapples with transition to mobile
Facebook beats Twitter to most 'marketing friendly' social media site crown, says DMA
Fableists believe children like Finn should be outdoors enjoying life
Homebase, Baileys and Camelot join the line-up at Media360
MasterCard renews Rugby World Cup sponsorship to push cashless message
Lynx unleashes £9m 'Peace invasion' campaign
Social Brands 100 Youth: Pizza Hut most social youth brand in UK
Cheryl Cole is wild and arresting in new L'Oreal work
Morrisons told not to show alcohol ads during YouTube nursery rhymes
O2 head of brand Shadi Halliwell departs after 23 years at company in restructure
Tesco hit by further sales decline as it turns to digital Clubcard and social network
Branding guru Wally Olins dies aged 83
Duracell short film captures epic Transatlantic voyage
Ash runs Tinder experiment to show smokers are less desirable to opposite sex
British Airways teams up with Gerry Cottle Jnr for summer of rooftop film screenings
Arklu says 'girls can be superheroes too' with doll design competition
Coke enters squash market with Oasis Mighty Drops
Virgin Galactic signs up Land Rover as space flight sponsor
Motorola marketer Andrew Morley departs as Google gears up for sale to Lenovo
US Airways apologises after tweeting obscene image at a customer