Chinese handset maker OnePlus has taken the smartphone market by storm with its good design and build-quality devices at affordable prices. In 2017, this Shenzhen-based firm managed to get sales of over $1.4 billion globally. In India too, it has made rapid strides in recent months; according to a recent IDC report, in Q4 2017 OnePlus had 48% of market share of the premium online smartphone segment in India.
The last couple of months has seen mounting interest around its latest flagship, OnePlus 6, that launches later today. “The OnePlus 6 is one of the most eagerly anticipated smartphones of 2018. It is a beautiful balance of power and design,” says Vikas Agarwal, general manager, OnePlus India. On the eve of the launch, he spoke to Sudhir Chowdhary about the company’s game plan for the Indian market. Excerpts:
The online premium market as per IDC is pegged to grow at 50% y-o-y in India. How do you plan to capitalise on this?
Being a digital-first company, we have so far been majorly present online, through oneplus.in and our exclusive partner, Amazon.in. While we will continue to focus on online platforms, this year we are also looking at offline expansion to complement online touchpoints. We are looking at opening authorised stores in 10 cities across the country, opening OnePlus Experience Stores in key cities and increasing our presence to 100 Croma stores in major cities.
Our offline expansion plan is to establish premium OnePlus experience zones through own large format stores and smaller stores with select partners like Croma. These experience zones are designed to introduce OnePlus products to potential new users, strengthen user trust and further complement our online business.
We will also strengthen our ‘Make in India’ strategy and soon start the local manufacturing and sourcing of key components like PCB, etc. In fact, India can potentially become our global manufacturing hub with handsets getting exported from here.
In 2017, OnePlus saw sales of over $1.4 billion globally. What has India’s contribution been for the same?
OnePlus is present in over 30 countries with major presence in Europe, US, India and China region. We debuted in India in December 2014 and today India has quickly surpassed other regions to become the biggest and the most important market for OnePlus. During 2017, it accounted for over one-third of global business. Within India, OnePlus is already among the top three premium smartphone brands with over 25% share (above Rs 30,000 price segment).
India has also played a critical role in establishing partnerships with brands such as Amazon (in Germany and the UK) and Disney (in the Nordic countries and China). Lastly, our Indian community has feedback has played a key role in improving product experience (wallpaper designs, software improvements, etc).
How has the Amazon exclusive deal worked out for OnePlus? Will this deal continue to be in place even as the company pursues offline growth?
The strategic partnership between OnePlus and Amazon has been a very successful association for both brands. We chose Amazon for their customer-first approach and long term commitment which fully aligns with OnePlus values.
As online is a primary sales channel for OnePlus, Amazon will continue to be our partner of choice in coming years as well in India as well in other regions. OnePlus is committed to the exclusive online partnership with Amazon from the long-term perspective due to strong operational synergies, business priorities and alignment in core company values.
OnePlus has always claimed to be a community-oriented brand. How has your community played a role in your success?
OnePlus’s success in the Indian market can be largely attributed to the unprecedented brand connect that has grown over the last few years. Our products are developed in close coordination with users through close interactions during ‘open ear’ feedback sessions and on online forums with beta testers and other active users. In addition, feedback from actual end users have helped us quickly refine our products and earn user trust. This has also helped us maintain our promotion costs, thereby making our products even more competitive and attractive for prospective users.
After the success of OnePlus 5T, what can we expect from OnePlus 6?
OnePlus 5T was the fastest selling device in the company’s history and we are thankful to our loving community for their continued support. We look forward to giving our community the best possible smartphone experience with OnePlus 6, a beautiful balance of power and design.