Nokia has opened its second “Flagship” company store in two months, and plans to open two additional U.S. locations over the next year.
The newest boutique is located on Fifth Avenue and E. 57th Street in Manhattan, perhaps the world's foremost nexus of premium retailing. Neighbors include Tiffany's, Yves Saint Laurent, Niketown and, around the corner, Apple's own flagship store which opened in May.
At 1,900 square feet, the shop is slightly larger than its predecessor, which is located along Chicago's high-rent “Miracle Mile” on Michigan Avenue. According to Winston Wright, Nokia's senior marketing manager for retail planning and merchandising/customer and market operations, the company is choosing world-class shopping sites here and abroad as part of its global strategy. Nike also maintains Flagship stores in Helsinki, Hong Kong and Moscow, and will open its next two shops on the West Coast and in Central America.
While the Flagship stores sell products and activations (through T-Mobile and Sprint), Wright said the aim is to showcase Nokia and highlight wireless technologies rather than compete with channel partners. “We're not developing our own channel of distribution,” he said. Indeed, the boutiques also serve as retail laboratories where Nokia studies customer needs and develops new selling approaches that it shares with retailers and carriers. “We haven't heard anything except positive responses from our channel partners,” Wright said. “Wireless is a confusing space, similar to where the computer industry was ten years ago, and we've done research and made an investment in how best to sell it.”
Like its sister stores, the New York unit presents the full Nokia line within an interactive environment. Products are prominently displayed on a backdrop of color-shifting walls, and printed point-of-purchase materials are replaced by informative multimedia displays that are activated by lifting products from their cradles.
The first level of the three-story boutique focuses on handsets, while the second level showcases Nokia's advanced Nseries wireless devices, which are paired with notebook computers, photo printers, stereo speakers and other peripherals for demonstration and instruction.
The third level houses Nokia's luxury line of handcrafted Vertu handsets featuring sapphire crystals, polished ceramic keypads, gold and stainless steel housings, and diamonds and leather accents. Each Vertu device, including numbered and limited edition handsets, also features a concierge key that connects the owner to a “personal service professional” who can provide hotel-type concierge services worldwide.
Nokia also drew attention in New York this summer by co-sponsoring free Wi-Fi network access in a number of city parks.