From ramping up manufacturing to democratising technology, how Realme plans to one-up Xiaomi in race to become India’s top smart TV brand

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Updated: June 29, 2021 6:01 PM

Not just online, Realme also plans to expand offline this year in a bid to reach out to even more customers.

Realme smart TV, Realme TV, Realme, Xiaomi, Madhav ShethIn 2021, Realme is looking to target 1 million smart TV users.

India’s smart TV market is booming and Realme wants a big slice. The Oppo spin-off that started this journey only last year, is already creating a lot of ripples. Very quickly, it has become the third best-selling online smart TV brand in the country. It has sold 6,00,000 units. In 2021, it is looking to target 1 million smart TV users. The goal is to become India’s No.1 online smart TV brand. Not just online, Realme also plans to expand offline this year in a bid to reach out to even more customers.

Also Read | Realme on bringing 108MP camera to masses, undercutting competition, Make in India plans and first flagship store  

Financial Express Online caught up with Realme’s Madhav Sheth to understand the brand’s journey so far and talk about all that’s coming in the days to come even as it goes neck and neck against competition — primarily Xiaomi — to achieve its ambitious goals. Excerpts.

FE: A year on, how has the response been towards your smart TVs? What’s their story so far and what’s your future roadmap?

Sheth: We forayed into the smart TV segment with 32- and 43-inch models in 2020, elevating the connected viewing experience for users. We were able to sell more than 15,000 units in less than 10 minutes during the first sale and created a new record on Flipkart. The growth journey has been quite fulfilling. We were among the top 5 smart TV brands in Q1 2021, with a 7 percent market share in India (Q1, 2021 IDC Worldwide Quarterly Smart Home Tracker).

With expanded product lines, like the recently launched 4K series, including 43/50-inch 4K smart TV and FHD 32-inch TV, Realme is aiming at No.3 in the overall TV category and No.1 in the online segment.

FE: What’s your pricing strategy with regards to these smart TVs?

Sheth: Realme has always been a customer-centric brand that offers the latest technology at the most democratising prices. We have never positioned ourselves as a “value for money” or “budget brand”, instead, we look at providing the best of performance, design, and quality in each price segment, be it INR 6,000 or INR 50,000. Our target consumers are those who want to live an aspirational, trendsetting lifestyle and are in sync with the latest technological trends. For them, smart TVs have emerged from the chrysalis of just being a mode of digital entertainment to something much larger – a connected viewing experience. Consumers have high expectations and don’t want to compromise on any aspect of their purchase.

FE: How are Realme TVs different and why should consumers care about them? What’s your take on competition?

Sheth: Product is always the key. We understand the requirements of our users, and we keep on doing innovations to provide the leading picture and sound technology, advanced smart functions, and powerful performance all the time. We want to create a fabulous cinema experience at home. Like our smartphones, our smart TVs are built on unique value propositions as well. The Realme Smart TV 32-inch is the best-selling model in our portfolio. We have just given it a refresh with a bright(er) FHD display (400 nits panel brightness) and up to 85 percent NTSC support. It has slimmer bezels (8.7mm). For audio, it comes with 24W quad stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos.

Realme smart TV, Realme TV, Realme, Xiaomi, Madhav ShethMadhav Sheth, Vice President, Realme and Chief Executive Officer, Realme India & Europe

We would rather not comment on our competition. Suffice to say that in spite of large incumbents present in the smart TV segment, Realme has become the third best-selling TV brand on online platforms and has also become the fastest-growing TV brand.

FE: Realme plans to become No. 1 online smart TV brand in India. How exactly do you plan to do this?

Sheth: Product is the driving force. Our portfolio is very robust. We have FHD 32-inch, 4K 43-inch and 50-inch, SLED 4K, and 32- and 43-inch as well. Whether it’s the premium or the mid-range segment, we have built scale with diversified models and complemented them with segment-leading features. We have faith in our product capabilities, which will propel us to be the No. 1 online smart TV brand. Besides this, our stocks are also augmented with the support of local production. We have partnered with local contractors to ramp up manufacturing, which will help meet surging demand effectively. With new launches, we will expand into newer price segments, level up our capabilities and features, and bring more and more tech enthusiasts into the fold. We are expecting Realme smart TVs to reach 20 percent of Realme’s internal share and pave our way to become India’s No.1 online smart TV brand.

FE: How many smart TVs have you sold in India so far? Is there any specific model/size selling more than others? How many smart TVs are you looking to ship this year?

Sheth: Since the launch of Realme smart TV a year ago, we have garnered 6,00,000 sales in India and ranked as the Top 5 brand in Q1, 2021 (as per IDC). We are targeting 1 million smart TV users in 2021.

FE: Could you elaborate on your “Make in India” story so far. How does Realme plan to ramp up manufacturing?

Sheth: Realme has ensured 100 percent manufacturing of smartphones and smart TVs in the country and will continue to strengthen our “Make in India” strategy. We have also partnered with Bhagwati Products Limited and Videotex International Pvt. Ltd. as our OEM partners to begin local production of Realme smart TV 32-, 43-inch, and smart TV SLED 4K 55-inch, 4K 43- and 50-inch, 32-inch FHD TV respectively.

FE: Do you have any offline expansion plans since smart TVs are still largely a family purchase and consumers want to experience the product in person before buying?

Sheth: Smart TVs are a very experiential purchase and reflect complex and variety seeking buying behaviour. To bring consumers up close and personal with our smart TVs and help them understand the nuances, we are focusing on mainline expansion into Tier II and Tier III cities. This year, we are opening around 300-500 smart stores along with a few flagship stores as well. We have opened 40 such stores till date and unveiled our flagship store in Gujarat. Our focus will be to bring more and more consumers to connect with Realme AIoT products and smart TVs to truly appreciate the benefits our products will bring.

Also Read | How Xiaomi bucked the trend to become the Tesla of smart TVs in India and what lies ahead

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