Doro, maker of handsets aimed at seniors, recently launched its Primo range, including three feature phones, which are intended to boost the company’s position in the “traditional” retail channel, alongside mobile-focused stores and operators.

The line includes three products, 215, 305 and the 401, the last being a clamshell – a form factor where Doro believes it “dominates”. They have features the company believes a basic senior user will need: big keys, a torch, Bluetooth, FM radio and a standby battery life of at least seven days.

Chris Millington, UK MD of the company, is confident about the new products: “When we first launched a feature phone for seniors everyone told us there was no demand for such a product, but now we represent 20 per cent of the feature phone market in the UK,” he said.

chris M doro“We are growing very well, faster than the decline of feature phones overall, and have a strong share of the feature phone market,” he added.

And this is in large part due to seniors, who are increasingly the driver of this market.

The Primo line has a “mainstream” look, and was introduced with the aim of “putting a product back into the retail channel while still driving the brand with network operators”.

Millington believes retail is important for Doro because “we have good traditional relations within the retail space and it’s quite easy for us to step back into retail channels where we have done fixed line for 40 years”.

The company believes in order to work with retailers the phone has “got to do volumes,” hence it needs to have a broader appeal.

That doesn’t mean they want to steer away from seniors: “It is interesting that our design is so acceptable,” he said, but non-seniors “will never be a target and we will never try to design a product for them.”

IMG_0497Rather, the aim is to “address the need of a senior without it looking like a senior product,” and Millington said Doro would “love to get into really big numbers in mobile, selling several million a year.”

He admits his aims are very ambitious. At the moment, Doro has sold around 5 million units in Europe.

While they haven’t announced prices just yet, Millington says the cost will not be as low as some other feature phones out there because the product needs to have added value, which in a feature phone is “functional usability, practicality, size, battery performance”.

He believes Doro has the lowest churn rate ever seen of any device manufacturer and that nobody understands the senior “like we do”.

This could well be because the company spent nine years researching and categorising senior users, rather than lump then into one group.

“We wanted to understand the segment: what makes them tick, what impacts their decision making processes and what their values are, in the mobile world particularly and tech as a whole.”

The result was six categories and the Primo is targeted towards the URSA, or ‘Unsure and Resistant Slow Adopter’ – someone who is daunted by technology and has a certain level of age-related impairment. This user values brand and design of a device but is fairly unadventurous and has low confidence with technology so needs a lot of guidance.

IMG_0501At the other end of the spectrum is PETE – Progressive and Engaged Tech Enthusiast – the most advanced tech user, independent and tech savvy.

This is someone Doro does not target because they are likely to go for the more popular smartphones already out there.

However, the company does want to focus more on smartphones in the future, because 50 per cent of seniors surveyed by Doro said they want to buy one and the company wants to be ready for them (the remaining 50 per cent will need some convincing but will eventually get there, Millington believes).

“It took us three years to break into volume with a feature phone but it took us only 18 months to do so with a smartphone,” he commented.

Either way, the aim is to be “the dominant player in the senior market, whether it’s with retail or network operators, smartphones or feature phones,” he said.