The smartphone market in both the US and Europe has grown inexorably to the point where it can be hard for manufacturers to stand out from the competition.

In the US, Apple may have the profile, but Samsung undertakes a huge amount of spend on marketing.

LG on the other hand, is coming up fast on the rails and Huawei has the market firmly in its sights as part of its vast global ambitions.

It is important for all smartphone manufacturers to adapt to changing market conditions so they can differentiate themselves with deals and propositions that instantly grab consumers.

In the US, for example, the overwhelming majority of smartphones are still acquired on contracts of 24 to 30 months, whereas in Europe and the UK, there has been a shift to SIM-only deals, as consumers stick with the same device for longer.

In both markets there may be a growing feeling that smartphones have reached the point where there innovation is more gradual, making frequent upgrades less necessary for those who want the best functionality they can afford.

Promotional tactics can make the difference.

This is where some smart promotional tactics can make a significant difference. Cashback deals, trade-in schemes, gift-with-purchase propositions, satisfaction guarantees and customer loyalty platforms are just some of the mechanics which can all be deployed to act as powerful ignition systems, encouraging consumers to see value in buying a new phone or engaging in a new, higher value contract with the same brand.

Ultimately brands want guaranteed loyalty from their customers, but to achieve this they must attract consumers, convert them into purchasing customers and then retain their custom.

Before initiating this process, brands must decide what their customers are worth and how much they are willing to invest in luring new patrons.

Just as in the PC market, these promotions will not only increase sales, but can also increase the average selling price of each unit and reinvigorate brand-loyalty.

They remove the need for carriers or retailers to slash the price in order to move product.

This seems simple enough, yet in the past, smartphone-manufacturers putting together deals and promotions have had to overcome many hurdles, dealing with omni channel partners to ensure that every aspect runs smoothly.

That includes running the customer service aspect in call centres, operating redemption schemes and payment systems, while guaranteeing data security without jeopardising efficiency.

This all has to be taken care of in addition to finding the time and resources required to come up with a genuinely creative proposition that works in a very crowded market.

On top of that there is the danger of over- or under-redemption and the complications of ensuring that their P&L is not overly exposed.

End-to-end solutions.

If, however, manufacturers work in partnership with an expert in risk-managed promotions such as Opia, they can overcome all of these challenges and enjoy the full benefits of engaging a specialist with genuine creativity and deep experience. Opia is a leading international risk managed sales promotion specialist.

We design and deliver compelling “point of difference” campaigns for our major blue chip clients.

We provide a comprehensive, 100% in house end to end managed service.

Opia will end to end create and build the promotional campaign, through its 100% in house team of project managers, creative design and customer services team Opia’s extensive experience in redemption forecasting combined with a sophisticated promotional insurance product means clients can become more creative in their promotions, whilst removing the financial risk of adopting these solutions.

The risk management solution allows a fixed pricing model where the client has full certainty with a capped risk, therefore protecting a client’s P&L from over exposure.

Over redemption costs are covered by the promotions agency or via insurance policies underwritten by Lloyd’s of London underwriters with whom Opia have developed close relationships with.

Promotions can now be far more creative, capitalising, for example, on the addiction of many consumers for taking photos with their smartphones.

Customers could be asked to upload pictures of their pets, homes or holidays within a certain time and in line with the promotional terms, in exchange for cashback or gifts.

Not only are sales boosted, but the promotion and its website become an important mechanism of data-collection, allowing brands to engage closer to their customers and personalise future offerings to drive sales or attachment.

For the manufacturers the advantages can be measured in higher sales, greater confidence and certainty protecting their P&L and hugely-boosted brand-loyalty among their customers.

With transparent fees and full risk-backing in the insurance market, these innovative promotional tactics allow smartphone-brands to see exactly where they are and where they will be long before consumers start snapping up their products.

As always, the main focus is in delivering compelling promotional mechanics which compels the consumer to purchase, offering a beneficial reward and achieves measurable results against the challenges set.

By Steve Gales, Global Sales Director, Opia