Smartphones have become the first love for many Indians. We go to bed and wake up in the morning with our smartphones tucked in our hands. The 5-inch screen has become our best friend today and is proliferating at a high speed. A new report from Counterpoint Research states that India is now the second largest smartphone market in terms of active unique smartphone users, with the total base crossing 220 million users. This also makes India the second largest smartphone market in terms of active unique smartphone user base in the world.
India, the fastest growing smartphone markets in the Asia Pacific region, saw 103.6 million smartphones being shipped in 2015 – an increase of 28.8 percent as compared to 2014. While Samsung followed by Micromax hold the biggest market share, India, in the last couple of years, has seen the influx of Chinese players. China has begun to slow down and vendors are now looking for greater avenues to leverage India’s untapped potential in the smartphone market.
With similar intentions, Chinese smartphone maker OPPO entered India in 2014. The company says it has shipped just over a million handsets in the last fiscal year with the second half of the year contributing around 5,50,000 smartphone units, a period which OPPO claims helped it penetrate the market.
OPPO has been a slow starter but today India is an important market. From the end of last year and specifically in Q1 2016, the company has gone guns on marketing and promoting the brand. Starting from tying up with TV show Big Boss, the smartphone company went on claiming the maximum ad spots in the recently concluded ICC T20 World Cup. According to a study, OPPO grabbed a major share of 22.59% share during the tournament, which was played in India.
The marketing campaign of OPPO geared up with the dawn of 2016, when the company roped in Bollywood actors Hrithik Roshan and Sonam Kapoor as its South Asia region brand ambassadors. This year OPPO also signed a four-year deal with ICC (deal cost approx. Rs 225 crore) to become the Official Global Partner worldwide for the mobile phone category.
With the cricket season approaching, OPPO released the much-needed TVC with its brand ambassadors. The TVC featured around OPPO F1 and it being a selfie expert. The smartphone which comes with a 16MP front camera focused on the most common human behavior with smartphones i.e. taking selfies. The TVC showed how the smartphone could make your okay selfies into spectacular ones. At a time when other smartphone markets have focused on product features and durability, OPPO has focused on a very common but a massy feature.
With the ICC T20 World Cup about to begin, OPPO launched “Cheer for India” a 360-degree marketing campaign to bring cricket fans closer to all the excitement and action on ground, informed Sky Li, OPPO Global VP, MD of International Mobile Business and President of OPPO India. “Cricket is the most popular and loved sport in India, worshiped and loved by many young consumers who are also OPPO’s targets. We wanted to reach out to our consumers and give them a chance to experience the magic of watching cricket live and cheer for team India.”
The campaign involved bringing cricket fans closer to all the excitement and action on ground like joining the cricket toss session and taking a selfie with both the captains before the match; standing a chance of winning ICC WT20 final tickets on purchase of OPPO F1, etc.
On digital the brand created a microsite that was hosted on OPPO website and the fans uploaded their selfies on Facebook and Twitter with #WT20SelfieExpert. Sky informed over an email interaction that winners were selected randomly and declared on the microsite and OPPO’s official Facebook and Twitter pages. The winners then had a chance to either be a part of Toss O-Fans, or have his/her selfie chosen for OPPO moments.
Along with driving user-generated content, the brand ensured more celebrity participation. OPPO roped in other glamorous celebrities who clicked selfies and shared it on social media. “OPPO is a camera phone known to take the perfect selfies and this is what we wanted to communicate via our celebrity users and influencers. By leveraging partnership with these influencers, we have been able to get closer to the Indian customers and spread the love of taking selfies,” Sky shared.
During this time OPPO had also launched a limited edition OPPO F1 ICC WT20 smartphone. Prices at Rs. 17,990 the handset came with a T20 world cup logo on its back. Customers who bought OPPO F1 phones during this time stood a chance to win VIP tickets for the World cup finals.
The campaign has been brilliant for OPPO with spends of Rs. 100 crore on-air and on-ground sponsor during the world cup. The company has seen a 30% monthly jump since October 2015 and going forward OPPO plans to spend 10 times more on marketing this fiscal year. “The campaign aimed to get closer to fans of cricket and it has been able to do that exactly. We have also been able to connect with our target audience through our online and offline activities further helping people experience our camera technology and spread the love of taking selfies.”
Earlier this month the brand launched its second camera-focused F series phone, the F1 Plus, priced at Rs 26,990. Sky claimed a 28% volume market share in the Rs 15,000-Rs20,000 category and 3.1% overall market share, citing Gfk data.
To promote the new F1 Plus during the ongoing IPL madness in the country, OPPO has already roped in cricketer Yuvraj Singh, as its first sports ambassador for this cricket season.
Sky tells LI that in the coming days the brand is also launching a charity campaign named “Game on, Selfie on” in association with Yuvraj’s YouWeCan foundation on the brand’s social media platforms. “The brand objective is to bring hope to the society and create awareness about cancer. Our future plan focuses on engaging more people to experience and love OPPO’s outstanding camera phone products in an interesting way.”
Along with marketing promotions, OPPO has gone the old way in terms of sales. The brand is putting efforts in offline rather than online flash sales, a trend followed by most smartphone companies these days. It is guessed around 20% of the total smartphone sales are made online, while the 80% is still controlled by the offline stores. Amit Bhawani, Founder at Phoneradar writes that OPPO is following a similar strategy that was earlier chalked by Gionee.
“Gionee has been a leader in promoting their devices offline that were primarily the reason why they have been successful with slow growth in the country & now OPPO is also following this strategy.”
Sky accepts the fact that OPPO is currently focusing on the offline market which could bring the best service to local customers. He further adds, “For offline market, this year OPPO is targeting 35,000 sales outlets in India in 2016.”
Clearly, OPPO is investing in building the brand in India by investing money on brand promotion, channel development and have been focusing a lot on building their offline network. It won’t be easy but OPPO is in no hurry and understands the potential of Indian smartphone market. India still has a long way to go as the smartphone penetration of the total potential population is still below 30 percent.
Basabdatta Chowdhury, chief executive at Platinum Media, part of Madison Media Group speaking to ET said OPPO is doing what Samsung did when it came to India.
“They are investing in building the brand. It is very encouraging that Chinese are also investing in building brands. When Samsung came to India, it invested in cricket in the late 1990s and early 2000s to build its brand that yielded rich dividends.”