The Swedish vendor, which targets older users, offers a range of device types to suit different needs and is introducing new smartphones and 4G-enabled handsets, but is keen to keep things simple for users
There are plenty of global phone manufacturers that appeal to the masses, but not many that cater specifically to the over-65 market.
Yet Sweden’s Doro, which has been around for 48 years in the consumer electronics space, is a vendor that focuses on products and services for that segment.
Doro’s devices are designed with loud and clear sound, large separated keys and an assistance button that alerts emergency contacts if the user needs help.
The company recognizes that not all senior users are the same, so it offers a range of products to suit individual needs.
Some customers want a smartphone but need guidance on using it. The firm therefore offers such devices – namely, the Doro 8050, 8080 and newly launched 8100 – but has an interface that helps users navigate through various functions such as calling a contact, sending a message and finding apps.
For others, ‘extra easy’ mobiles such as the Doro 6620 flip phone or the 6040 camera phone would be beneficial.
Peter Marsden, Doro’s managing director for the UK and Ireland, has been in the mobile industry for more than 30 years, having previously held positions at companies including Sony Ericsson, Panasonic and Blackberry – before joining Doro in 2017.
Marsden says he loves creating products that make customers’ lives easier, helping them overcome any issues with functions such as sight, hearing and dexterity.
“Our view is that a phone is something people feel comfortable carrying and is part of our everyday world now,” says Marsden.
“In the past, seniors who needed to get in touch with people carried a pendant or wristband, which was a bit stigmatizing.”
Marsden emphasizes that a phone is essential for seniors to communicate and receive support, something that has been highlighted by the pandemic.
“It was tough as a brand because so many of our customers were used to going into a shop and buying our phones there, but this changed dramatically overnight and our business dropped,” he says.
Now, he says, customers are equally happy to buy Doro’s products online as well as visit a store.
Doros for sale
Doro products can be found across most major operators, retailers and e-tailers, such as EE, O2, Vodafone, Currys, Tesco Mobile, Amazon and Argos.
“Anywhere you can buy a mobile phone, you’ll normally find a Doro,” says Marsden, who claims the brand has a 90 percent share in the UK senior market among vendors that target over-65s.
“The seniors compared to the overall market are niche, but it’s an important niche.
“They’ve got disposable income and they need communication, so big companies like Vodafone and EE stock Doro so they have a solution for those customers.”
According to Doro, the amount of its UK users amounts to around three million, and elsewhere in Europe, Doro’s shares of the senior market differ, with its most prominent being in the Nordic region, at nearly 100 percent.
“In Germany, it’s a bit different, as there are some other vendors that are strong, so we’ve got about half the market,” says Marsden.
“In France, we have something like 70 to 80 percent of the senior market, but in the overall European market we are quite small.”
The new Doro 8100 smartphone and recently launched 5860, 6820 and 6880 feature phones are all 4G-enabled.
Marsden says the company is gradually introducing 4G-compatible devices because some countries in Europe are already moving towards turning off 2G and 3G.
With the wider and more advanced range of features generally available on 4G phones, he is, however, keen that the devices remain simple to use.
“I think 2G and 3G will start to have a shelf life soon, so it’s important that we start building up a 4G portfolio but make sure we still deliver products to the customer that are easy and intuitive to use,” he says.
“Today, there is no great rush to completely switch to 4G. We work with networks such as O2 and Tesco, which still sell a lot of 3G devices and are happy to continue to buy 3G products.
“However, other networks such as Vodafone and EE will only buy a 4G device from us.”
Marsden believes the UK still has a good network on 2G, 3G, 4G and now 5G technology, but many efforts will be focused on 4G for now.
“What could 5G give a senior that 4G couldn’t?” At the moment, I don’t think it’s much,” he says.
“They’re not going to be streaming movies and looking at download speeds; they will need the phone for WhatsApp, picture messages and watching YouTube, which can all be done on 4G and WiFi.”
Now that Doro has built up an understanding and reputation in the senior mobile space, Marsden says the brand will start looking at other categories such as wearables, hearables and new screens, as well as developing existing categories.
“Seniors tend to struggle with hearing, seeing and dexterity, so we could potentially enhance our range through better audio and health monitoring, and we’re looking into this,” he says.
Marsden re-emphasizes the point that Doro is a brand that aims to make seniors’ lives easier and give them independence through its products.
“We get letters from relatives to say ‘my dad had a fall and he pressed the button on the back – without your phone, he could have been there for days and could have died’.
“I’ve worked for some of the big brands, but when you get a letter saying your phone saved my dad’s life, that’s just incredible… it gives us the passion to do what we do.”