Armed with a new logo and tagline, Make Smiles, Chinese handset maker Gionee doesn’t just hope to connect emotionally with the social-savvy millennial, but also tap the entry-level segment in India. Gionee is aggressively eyeing the $90-100 (under Rs 5,000-8,000) smartphone segment this year.
“The earlier logo was very functional. The rebranding exercise is aimed at creating greater relevance for our target segment,” says Arvind R Vohra, country CEO and MD, Gionee India. Gionee’s target segment consists of 15-35 year-olds.
The rebranding is accompanied by a new focus on the entry-level portfolio. Gionee is known for its mid-to-high range handsets — the affordable premium segment in India. “The handset maker is shifting from its original strength of offline as a distribution mechanism, to portfolio. It appears Gionee’s strategy is to chase volumes with a focus on the Rs 5,000-10,000 category, which comprises 50% of the total smartphone market in India,” says Tarun Pathak, senior analyst, Counterpoint Research. This particular price range is rather competitive as there are close to 100 brands competing in that segment itself.
Gionee plans to double its marketing spend to Rs 500 crore this year and the rebranding exercise alone will take 50% of it. The company is planning more campaigns to further build on the IPL campaign launched last month. The marketing initiatives will focus on design, battery and user experience. Gionee claims that its current share in the overall handset market in India stands at 5% and it is looking to increase it to 8-9% this year. To increase volumes along with profitability, Gionee is taking a segment-centric approach. According to the company, the number growth will come in the under-Rs 10,000 handset segment, the revenues will come between Rs 10,000-20,000 price segment and brand value will come in the above Rs 20,000 segment.
With retail expansion being a prime focus area for Gionee, the brand will be spending heavily on opening new stores as well as rebranding the stores. Currently, Gionee, has about 47 brand stores and 450 exclusive service centres. It is planning to increase the brand stores to 250 this fiscal. It plans to launch 16 smartphones this year, of which four will be flagship models.
“All the new launches will be across the channels — both online and offline. We are not planning any online exclusive product. In terms of branding and marketing, the idea is to first get our new logo in place, both from the consumer and retail standpoint,” says Vohra. “Rebranding at the retail level is a bigger job as we are servicing 30,000-35,000 outlets right now. We want to take it to 50,000.”
Gionee was the first Chinese player to enter the Tier III and Tier IV markets. In fact, its bottom-up retail strategy differentiated it from its peers. “The experience of premium smartphones at an affordable price and good after-sales service, have worked in Gionee’s favour. But once you chase the volume game, after-sales service has to keep pace,” says Pathak. “Gionee needs to keep its portfolio leaner and aggressive at the same time.”