Gionee Communication Equipment Co. Ltd, established in 2002, is today ranked No.10 in the world by smartphone market-share. Within 18 months of its launch in India, the Chinese manufacturer has seen high growth and Arvind Vohra, India Head, Gionee Smartphones, attributes this to quality of products and rational pricing. He also tells us how the company has successfully engaged with consumers in media-dark markets using Print and OOH
By Simran Sabherwal
Gionee, meaning ‘Golden Quality’, entered the Indian market in March 2013 and since then, has sold three million handsets (as of August 2014) and clocked sales of Rs 1,500 crore. Reflecting on the journey so far, Arvind Vohra, India Head, Gionee Smartphones, says, “We have received great response from consumers and have successfully made inroads into the industry. We built a niche for ourselves amidst all the other existing players.” With strong belief in an integrated business approach, Gionee has based its business on its three pillars of strength - Own Design, Own Manufacturing and Own R&D. A close association with MediaTek and Qualcomm also allows Gionee to offer a wide product portfolio, covering both feature and smartphones.
Vohra says that Gionee positioned itself as a brand offering the best features and performance at a rational price, which gave it an edge over other devices. He believes that handset providers need to continuously evolve and offer new innovative products with enhanced features to stand out amongst the multitude of players, as the product with the newest technology and finest hardware will stand out in the sea of smartphones. True to its name, the brand has kept quality and experience at the top. With pricing being a major factor in India, Vohra says, “The quality of our products along with our rational pricing has helped us achieve the growth we have in a short span of time. Affordability has always been a major criterion for Indian consumers. We have kept our pricing in competition with the home-grown firms but have not compromised on the technical front. Our pricing is 40% lower than multinational brands in the same segment.”
Medium for Marketing
Though the brand uses all possible touch-points to get consumers to see, experience and engage with the brand, its media mix is anchored around TV, Digital and Print. In the media dark markets, Gionee relies on Print and OOH to reach consumers. Vohra adds, “Be it urban or rural, the Print medium does have its roots deep and will be significant to any brand. Print advertising plays a very significant role in our scheme of things. It has got a huge reach and it works as a very important medium to communicate with consumers.”
Reaching The End-Consumer
While Digital plays a key role in the marketing mix, Gionee is not betting big on the platform when it comes to e-commerce. Instead, the brand is looking at traditional channels as it believes this still works best as distributors know the products and also assure quality customer service, along with the right price that does not hamper the brand in the long run. According to Vohra, “The traditional retail channel still has an upper hand over an e-commerce portal. E-commerce portals make up only 6% of the total market with the traditional channels making the rest of the 94%.”
With focus on traditional retail channels, a well-planned distribution network is key to the brand’s success in the market. Vohra says Gionee’s distribution network is “well sorted” and credits the brand’s fast growth to its distribution model. The five main distributors, located in Punjab, Rajasthan, West Bengal, North-east and the South, work as partners and take the entire responsibility in their respective areas. This has been done so that distributors feel they are part of the team and are driven to deliver the best results.
Targeting North India & HSM
Looking at North India specifically, Vohra says that it is a very important market for Gionee and expects this region to contribute to more than 30% of the business. In this market, Gionee has taken the mass media approach to expand its reach and get its message across to one and all. Vohra says, “We want to be seen and heard and create an impact on the audience and stand out from the clutter. We have been resorting to electronic, Print, Digital and Social to maximize our reach and give the brand the required visibility.”
The Hindi-speaking Market (HSM) is also ‘very important’ for Gionee, says Vohra, adding that every market has its own needs and the marketing plan is worked out accordingly. Gionee connects and engages with consumers in these markets through BTL activities. In addition, Gionee has launched products which are particularly suited for these markets, such as M-series phones that come with high battery power. The mobile phone manufacturer is also working on the content side. Elaborates Vohra, “We want to give a content bank to consumers from where they can pick content according to their choice. We are also working on a robust service infrastructure in these States, so our consumers have a better brand experience.”
Looking at the phone market today, even though 75% of it belongs to feature phones in terms of volume, the smartphones segment only contributes 30% value-wise. However, Vohra differs, saying, “Our revenue from smartphones is 90% and the rest from feature phones. Going forward, with the increasing adaptation of Internet in India, the focus and game will surely shift and be ruled by the smartphone market.”
Looking ahead, Vohra says as products are the prime focus for Gionee, it is working on introducing a slew of new, innovative and quality products. To serve customers better and with more efficiency, plans are afoot to open 250 brand stores, 4,000 in-store promoters, 2,500 shop-in-shops and 750 service centres next year. The company has also been engaging in various marketing initiatives and associating with global platforms to reach out to audiences. On the product side, after the success of E series and S series and the recent launch of GPAD G5 and CTRL V4S for the festive season, a slew of new handsets are expected in the coming months.