To create buzz around the launch of OnePlus 7 and OnePlus 7 Pro, the Chinese smartphone manufacturer has tied up with Netflix and National Geographic magazine. The posters of the second season of Sacred Games and its behind-the-scenes videos have been shot on OnePlus 7 Pro to highlight its HDR supported feature. Meanwhile, National Geographic magazine has released its first-ever cover shot on a phone — OnePlus 7 Pro — making quite a statement about the phone’s triple camera capabilities. The tie-ups are aimed to work like a testimonial, given that the camera output of OnePlus 6 and OnePlus 6T did not get rave reviews in tech circles.
According to Sumit Saxena, co-founder, Pixights Consulting, OnePlus’s tie-up with Netflix is a “glorified sponsorship”, but there is also a synergy between the two because a lot of OTT consumption happens on mobile. “Netflix has a premium positioning and the Sacred Games series is a well-accepted title now. It is more about OnePlus piggybacking on these to build cachet for itself.” Since the target group of Netflix and OnePlus is similar, such co-branding partnerships mean new revenue streams for Netflix as well, according to analysts.
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OnePlus’s most expensive model until now, the OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition, was priced around Rs 45,000, but with the launch of the OnePlus 7 Pro, the company has upped the price point for its highest variant to Rs 57,999. Thus far, OnePlus phones have typically fallen in the pricing segment of Rs 38,000-45,000.
With its new launches, OnePlus seems to have also ditched its erstwhile specifications-heavy advertising plank, which propagated its RAM and smooth operating system. The brand has forged ahead with a new tagline, Go beyond the speed, which is an attempt to treat high speed as a hygiene factor across its phones. According to Counterpoint Research, ‘triple camera’ could be the new battleground in the smartphone space. “Currently, Huawei’s Mate and P series; the Samsung Galaxy A series and the new Galaxy flagships; and the Vivo V15 Pro have been driving the triple camera sensor penetration. Now, OnePlus has joined the bandwagon,” says Hanish Bhatia, senior analyst, Counterpoint Research.
There is also a change in OnePlus’s launch strategy: as a first, it has launched two devices (OnePlus 7 and OnePlus7 Pro) at the same time.
In order to evolve further from the lower end of the premium spectrum, where OnePlus seems to have carved a place for itself thus far, the brand “needs to get out of the specifications game”, according to Navkendar Singh, research director, client devices and IPDS, IDC India. “When you are charging over `45,000, you have to create a halo around the brand,” he adds. Furthermore, he deduces that the tie-up with Netflix is clever marketing, but it will “not help the brand in the long run”.
Perhaps, OnePlus can learn a lesson or two from Samsung’s strategic tie-up with NDTV in 2018 — Samsung is the news channel’s reporting partner with its 4K camera technology. “Media tie-ups work for OEMs, but they should allow for continuous engagement and be strategic in nature. OnePlus’s current efforts are just marketing noise around the launches,” Singh adds.
According to IDC, OnePlus commands the third spot in India, much after Samsung and Apple in the premium smartphone ranking. Samsung had surpassed Apple, leading in the premium ($500+) segment with an overall share of 36% in Q1 2019, due to its heavily marketed Galaxy S10 flagship series. In terms of individual models, OnePlus 6T emerged as the top-selling product in India’s premium smartphone segment in Q1 2019, nudging OnePlus along to compete among the top players.