SUMMARY: Beautifully crafted devices with a fluid design. Among the two, I loved holding the 3v as it projected a rich and sophisticated image away from the me too designs in the market; a 6” slender design in a blue metallic jacket. The 5 is a serious “me too” form factor that would get lost in the rack of similar models on display. Face recognition feature has been an integral feature in Alcatel phones that should be “Shouted” much more as it usually reflects premium high-end models. Both products had interesting software features proprietary with Alcatel that should be highlighted on the box itself but comes as a surprise to a new user. Slow Motion feature on the 5 is fantastic as the new top end flagship has been brandishing this feature as if they are the first ones to introduce it.

Top Takes: Aggressive pricing and positioning for both products with a rich feature set. Materials used are unique and emanate a feeling of a high-end brand. Alcatel brand name is still synonymous with the past leaders of the mobile Industry especially in the IR market, so brand recall at shop levels is fair. With a consistency of work especially at the BTL, the brand recall can be re-established. Phenomenal display with the iconic “a” making a statement “please notice me as I am a blast from the past as well”.

Downers: Unfortunately, I must do a bit of a bashing here. The packing quality left a lot to be desired as well as the material used, and the opening of the box had been an effort. It took a while to figure out the unboxing of the 3v as I had to ensure that the package would not get damaged. Accessory placement was also loose and felt cheap and did not reflect the great build quality especially of the 3v. Camera resolution for the price being offered is acceptable and can be compared with the competitive devices. The other challenge had been the “Brand Equity” that is still missing and is associated with the “Chinese” products widely available in the market. Lack of branding at KDR and IR levels also felt like an injustice to some nifty devices. I understood from the Alcatel team that the strategy is to be at selected KDR’s at the premium level and then have a strong IR push to create a mass awareness; if executed well then it can be a winning proposition.

Key Domestic Retailers: High listing fees and then a lack of attention is keeping a lot of mobile brands away from Key Retailers. However, selecting the premium partners in this sector is a clear win and this is how Alcatel is approaching the market with a push at Carrefour, Lulu and soon at Sharaf DG in the UAE.  In other KDR’s competitive products were widely displayed but the absence of Alcatel had been a surprise for me but then the strategy defines it all. Working with the KDR’s with a heavy footfall and a targeted product based promotion is a way to go.

Independent Retailers: Again, sporadic availability with the counter sales personnel equating the brand with entry level mass market Chinese devices. There is absolutely no product positioning of Alcatel even with flashy devices as it just gets drowned in the clutter. Also, feature phones aren’t visible although it wasn’t a part of this review. Mega branding from Tier 1 and 2 brands have completely overshadowed the presence of any other Android devices. The brand needs a strong promoters and branding exercise that I understand is in the making and we should be seeing the results soon.

Tradability:  DAFZA does not understand Alcatel except for the feature phones and this is an alarming issue for any brand. DAFZA reflects the demand for the region and anything and everything that moves here is a direct manifestation of what the Middle East, Africa and even South America is looking for. We are not discussing competition, but Nokia smart phones are also in the same league but hmd has been able to successfully push their smart phones at the back of their extremely successful feature device range. Also, there is no flag bearer of Alcatel phones when it comes to traders, like some of them still working well with Motorola and some EOL Lenovo models.

Recommendations: Lastly, a spokesperson in terms of a DAFZA trader is required who is incentivized to push the brand in some selected territory.

PS: A team of promoters with a targeted focus has been deployed in the UAE and we will address that in the next set of reviews.

Major DAFZA traders are struggling today and a couple of them with a hand holding at a slower level can build the brand in new markets as I had discussed with them.

Photography: Courtesy Mansoor Ahmed