Whether it is bringing the first smartphone with pop-up selfie camera or delivering the ‘in screen’ finger print sensor experience – vivo India has been at the forefront of innovation. This Chinese handset maker has firmly established itself as a leading smartphone brand. It has a manufacturing facility in Greater Noida and a robust distribution network across the country both online and offline. Nipun Marya, director, Brand Strategy, vivo India, spoke to Sudhir Chowdhary about the company’s journey in India and future business plans. Excerpts:
How has the journey been in India?
The last five years have been really wonderful for us. If you have to ask me to summarise the journey in four words, I would say—challenging, rewarding, humbling and satisfying. We were a new brand coming into the country where nobody knew if we were a car company, a paint company or a mobile phone company. From there to now being among the top three brands in the country, it has been a very satisfying experience.
How does vivo differentiate itself from other handset makers in the market?
First, we have worked towards creating a superior end-to-end experience for our consumers. Our growth in India has been a combination of multiple factors – strong product portfolio across price segments, extensive distribution network (both offline and online), reliable after-sales service and substantial marketing inputs to build a strong brand. On-ground is about distribution and after sale services. In just over three years, we were able to reach nearly 70,000 outlets across the country from zero. The other on-ground big effort was our service centres that are company owned and company operated.
Second, the products and innovations. Innovation is something that we have continuously done. Third is the brand building, which is understanding what is the brand’s need and to create awareness about the brand looking at properties like IPL, PKL and brand ambassadors.
How will you summarise some of the big achievements of vivo in this five-year journey?
There are three key achievements. First, we are in this business for the long-term and while achieving the long-term goals if we can get good success mid-term, it shows that we are going in the right direction. The second is the trust which we have been able to get from the consumers. You can drop prices, cut margins, do a lot of advertising and maybe in short-term you can sell the product, but the way consumers have trusted vivo is remarkable. If there is one vivo in the family, they buy another one. Number three is the whole team infrastructure which we have been able to set up and this includes manufacturing. We have 10,000 people currently employed in the factory.
What is your current market share?
This depends on what source you refer to. As per GfK, we have recorded highest ever market share of 23% in October, we are the second in the category. Similarly, if you look at Counterpoint, we are at 17%. But whichever analyst report you see, we are either in the top two or top three.
There is a lot of expectation from the brand now, how do you look at the future?
I don’t think we need to do things very differently from what we have done so far. We have just focused on what we think are the right things for our business and for our four stakeholders – consumers, channel partners, shareholders, and some internal stakeholders.
What kind of innovation can we expect from vivo?
There are two areas in which innovation can be seen. One is in the area of smartphones, however, I still believe there are three key areas in which investments are happening right now which are relevant for consumers. Number one is camera. I believe that camera still remains a very important differentiating factor and will remain important. Number two is security. Mobile phones are a very personal device and people are very concerned about security. Third is 5G. On the hardware side, within smartphones, a lot of investments are happening in 5G.