Chinese handset makers have virtually stormed the India mobile phone market. “The Chinese are offering Indian consumers the latest technology at very affordable prices,” says Alex Feng, CEO, Vivo India, the latest Chinese brand vying for a piece of the lucrative smartphone market in India. Vivo, which is one of the top three players in China in terms of revenue, recently launched its X5 Pro smartphone in the Indian market, which is equipped with Hi-Fi sound and 4G LTE network and is targeted at the upper middle class. The company’s new manufacturing plant in Noida is also expected to start operations in three-to-four months. It will have the ability to produce one million handsets by the end of next year. In a recent interaction, the Vivo India CEO discusses with Sudhir Chowdhary the company’s growth plans for the Indian market. Excerpts:
The India mobile phone market has become cluttered and highly competitive with a lot of Chinese players vying for market share. What are the key attributes for their success here?
We are a 20 year-old telecommunication company with a global presence. From our experiences we know that innovation, unique concepts, pursuit of excellence and passion are the key elements for success. Not only in the product, the market but also the satisfaction of our internal customers who are our employees are important.
Our legacy along with our market understanding have made our presence felt in Indian smartphone market. Unbeatable product quality and robust business model will be our differentiating factors.
What is your strategy in entering the India market at this stage?
The burgeoning Indian economy, increasing youth population, high untapped potential have made India gain popularity as a business destination globally. Also, we see a parallel experience in the Indian mobile market and what we witnessed in China during 2011 to 2014. The market is moving rapidly from 2G to 3G. There has been a paradigm shift from feature phones to smartphones in India. This is the right opportunity to foray into the Indian market. Customers are looking for quality products. Since we already have a success story, we know the kind of attributes the youngsters look for in a smartphone. We are confident to become one of the leading smartphone players in the market.
Can you share some targets?
Last year in China, we sold 30 million smartphones. In terms of the sales, we are amongst the top 5 in China. This year we have already crossed our benchmark and have targeted to sell 40 million smartphones by the end of this year. We expanded our operations in new markets like India, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam, Myanmar, and Indonesia. We endeavour to provide customers, smartphones with distinguishing features.
Tell us about the background of the company.
Vivo is the pioneer of Hi-Fi music smartphone. ‘Hi-Fi’ stands for high-fidelity which means high reproduction capabilities of sound. Hi-Fi stands for top-performance in the field of music equipments. ‘Smart’ represents understanding from science to human, making man-machine interaction full of surprise and joy. Today’s youth seek discerning sound features. Music plays a vital role in the life of Indians; hence our smartphones are the best choice.
In China, we are a very successful brand and we are confident, we will excel in India as well. We are not focusing on competition but, on our core competencies like music; our products are designed to woo consumers and give them maximum satisfaction.
How do you plan to retail your smartphone range in India?
This year we have launched several models of smartphones matching with the need of Indian market. The market response is highly welcoming. We have plans to launch about 5 new 4G compatible smartphone models by this year.
In these 8 months, Vivo has expanded its retail network in 200 cities in 28 states, with over 7,000 Indian colleagues and 10,000 retailers to make sure our customers get hassle free service.
How does Vivo see the India smartphones market?
India smartphone market is highly conducive. We are witnessing an overwhelming response for our products. I have personally come across a customer who bought one phone from our centre and later on purchased nine smartphones for his entire family. We are selling pan India and all the cities are at par.
India is the most important international market for us. I am responsible for entire corporate operations in India. Also India being one of the BRIC members, we cannot neglect this market. Vivo loves to take challenges and work in a competitive environment.
India is known for its vivid and diverse cultures. We are going to put our best effort in this market. We have been associated since our inception in India with some of the very big and famous properties like Comedy Nights with Kapil, MTV Roadies and MTV Bollyland Festival. Throughout the year we associate with different properties which go with the philosophy of Vivo and connects with young people of India who are creative and artistic.