- Nothing recently launched its second phone, the Phone (2), which is set to go on sale in India on July 21.
- Although Nothing has no exclusive offline retail presence in India and the Phone (2) is available from Flipkart, the brand has enabled users to experience the device as well as the newly launched Ear (2) black TWS at Nothing Drops.
- Nothing Drops are locations where users can buy or experience Nothing products. India had its first Nothing Drop at Bengaluru on July 14, where it attracted impressive crowds.
Folks queuing up for a phone in India is not exactly a routine matter. We have had it happen for some devices, like a few Redmi Notes and, of course, the iPhone, but by and large, queuing up for a phone is not an integral part of the Indian tech psyche. This is why it was a little surprising to see almost 500 people patiently queuing up inside the Lulu Mall in Bengaluru. The reason was what is called a Nothing Drop, an interesting marketing move from Nothing, the brand that has been making a few headlines with its innovatively designed handsets and earbuds.
Dropping a Slice of Nothing into Consumer Lives
As its name indicates, a Nothing Drop is basically a location (generally the first in a region or a country) from where you can experience and/or buy a Nothing product. But there is a bit more to Nothing Drops than just the ability to see and feel a product. It is not your regular run-of-the-mill kiosk run by a brand. Nothing Drops generally features members of the Nothing team, giving users a chance to interact with them and learn more about the products on offer. There are also refreshments on offer, and even the odd gift or two – basically, a slice of the Nothing life and culture, giving consumers a chance to be part of the Nothing community.
The importance of such events cannot be overstated for a new brand, especially one like Nothing, which not only has a mainly online presence but also has a very strong emphasis on product design. All of Nothing’s products so far have had a very strong visual element to them, and therefore seeing – and purchasing – them in the real world has a very different impact than just seeing them. So something like a Nothing Drop lets consumers get closer to the brand and gives them a chance actually to experience its products and interact with the team.
The Nothing Drops at Lulu Mall in Bengaluru was the first by the brand in India. Other Nothing Drops have either taken place or are scheduled for Dubai, London, New York, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Berlin, Dublin, and Rotterdam. Which kind of highlights the regions the new brand aims to target. In this case, the Nothing Drops were around the Nothing Phone (2) and the Ear (2) black TWS, but judging by the kind of crowd that turned up in Bengaluru, such offline events could be extended to other forthcoming products too.
India means something (big) for Nothing… but is a big challenge too
The fact that Nothing chose Bengaluru as one of many locations for its Nothing Drops indicates its clear interest in India. For some, this would not be surprising, given the goodwill its co-founder Carl Pei enjoys in the country. Pei is a well-known tech figure in the country, thanks to his extensive interactions with consumers and media when at OnePlus. Combine that with the fact that India is one of the largest smartphone markets in the world, and you would say that a brand would be naive to ignore the country.
That said, what also cannot be denied is that Nothing’s products so far are not exactly mainstream offerings. They are mid-segment or upper mid-segment in terms of pricing and rather geeky in terms of design and functionality. The Phone (2) is a prime example. Its design with a transparent back and an innovative Glyph UI with near-stock Android is more likely to appeal to the tech-savvy audience than a spec-chasing mainstream one. The brand needs to reach out to users who tend to prefer better-known and established brands in Nothing’s current price zone.
This is where events like Nothing Drops come into play – a crowd outside a kiosk does make people interested. We remember people being curious about what was happening at a crowded Cafe Coffee Day outlet in Delhi where OnePlus was allowing consumers to experience a product (it got a little chaotic later, but that is another story).
Interestingly, Pei was a part of OnePlus at that time, and it would not be surprising if the concept of Nothing Drops owes a bit to the OnePlus pop-up events that used to be a rage among the tech crowd, and many believe led to OnePlus developing a strong offline presence in India.
If that is a precedent, then the Nothing Drops at Bengaluru might just be paving the way for a more elaborate offline presence for the brand. We have seen it happen before. We would love to see it happen again. This is not the first time that a brand with a mainly online presence has reached out to its consumers through an unconventional offline event. Long before both brands had an offline presence, Xiaomi used events centered around its fans, and OnePlus often used to showcase its products at specific locations shortly after their launch. Both those brands also began similarly in India – being a mainly online presence before slowly getting into offline mode.
The brand, of course, is officially saying Nothing in this regard yet. Pun intended. Watch this space.