Gionee has become one of the prominent smartphone brands in the Indian market. Though the competition is growing day-by-day, yet Gionee is trying to bring devices that stand apart. We spoke to Alok Shrivastava, Director – Business intelligence and planning, Gionee India about their plans to expand the business in the Indian market.
What’s your investment plans in marketing & manufacturing to exploit growth?
We plan to almost double our marketing budget to around Rs 750 crore in 2017-18 from Rs 400 crore in the current fiscal.
Furthermore, we at Gionee are committed to Make in India and planning to set up a manufacturing unit spread across 50 acres in Faridabad at a cost of Rs 500 crore. Make in India campaign has opened doors for the companies to build in India. India is one of our most important markets and Gionee has been seeing an exponential growth here, which will only increase rapidly as time progresses. In fact, we at Gionee now manufacture all devices for the Indian market in India, March 2017 onwards.
The capacity of the unit will be 30 million units and it should be operational in about two years. In long-term, we plan not to only tap the growing demand in India as well as act as an export hub to serve markets like Africa and South East Asia. We have plans to manufacture around six lakh mobiles per month from this facility and use it as an export hub in future.
What are your current market share and your goal for 2017?
At Gionee, we have been growing year on year with a target is to sell make and sell phones within the bracket of INR 8000 to INR 25,000.
Owning nearly 6% share of the Indian smartphone market, we foresee a growth of 2.5 times in 2017-18 after securing revenues of $1.4 billion (Rs 9,500 crore) since Gionee’s inception in the country.
What is your marketing strategy to achieve your goals?
We at Gionee India want to be loved as a company that creates new possibilities for Indians and helps in shaping the future of India. We as a brand do not believe in flash sales and have always wanted to establish a direct connection with the consumers by providing them with the comfort and touch and feel of the device. Our strategy has been long term planning and investment wherein we focus offline by setting up a robust distribution network across India. We are using a decentralized distribution system that gives us “greater reach and flexibility” and allows us to distribute newer phones faster” and get them into the hands of more people. As for the brand strategy for our marketing initiatives, our campaign #Selfiestan is directed towards empowering all customers with better selfies and bigger battery.
Showing our commitment to the same, we have also changed our logo to Selfie + Battery. In fact, Gionee was an industry initiator of the big battery concept in smartphones. We even launched a campaign to build hype among the consumers around the importance of phone battery, wherein we asked users to share their stories when their imagination reached to new heights because someone’s phone was switched off due to power shortage. Our device Elife S5.1, launched in 2014 was officially recognized by Guinness World Records as the world’s slimmest smartphone.
Our flagship device of the year Gionee A1 is the new language of fun, laughter, and sharing. We wanted to launch this product in India by offering a new expression to young users today. Hence we, at Gionee, consciously chose to take the larger platform, that of owning the world of Selfies, which we have branded as #Selfiestan.
Our focus is still largely on offline retail in India and does not allow online sales unless e-commerce players agree to sell at the price set by us. Our focus on establishing strong customers connect has been a key growth driver for us in the country. As a result, Gionee today has a presence in 42,000 retail outlets across 2200 cities pan India. In fact, the brand today sells only 1 per cent of its stock online, rest is offline.
Our focus is on the needs and demands of the customers which must be met for them to develop trust in a brand and spread a positive word of mouth. In the current scenario, where smartphone makers are struggling to establish a reliable after sales service with customers, Gionee guarantees a turnaround time of 72 hours to its customers. Addressing customers even after sales and maintaining a long term relationship with them is fundamental to Gionee’s fabric, which is evident considering the company has invested in 600 exclusive service stations to focus on it’s after-sales relationships with the customers.
What challenges are you facing in the India market?
India is an extremely evolved market as far as smartphones are concerned, and the challenge for all smartphone players, including us, is to continuously innovate on design and user experience. Aligning technological possibilities with changing consumer demand patterns is a must.
Post-purchase experience is also extremely important to keep customers coming back. This is why we have 500 running service centers, wherein 89% of our consumers’ get their phones back in 72 hours and out of this 64 % get it over the counter.
On the product experience, our core philosophy is to get the selfie and the battery story correct. The products that we are introducing this year are a perfect mix of camera and battery, on a metal grid and aluminum body, with a faster processor and the latest Android experience- so that takes care of the consumer’s seamless experience.
India is a homogenous market, and connecting with consumers across geographies is critical. But Cricket and Bollywood are the two biggest religions. So our wider strategy is to have two national personalities from each, as our brand ambassadors. This explains our association with select and dynamic celebrities as Gionee’s brand ambassadors. Also, we will be doing several youth-centric activities under the #Selfiestan banner, to bring the consumers closer to the brand.
I think the idea was to change the notion of selfies from being just a narcissistic form of expression to a more inclusive “smile and the world will smile with you” kind of place. The next task was to take the concept to a level further. This meant empowering the tribe of selfie lovers to move beyond taking ‘just-selfies’ and be confident and feel a sense of belongingness and togetherness with their likes whenever they click a selfie. And that feeling can be felt when you see this peppy campaign that features Alia welcoming the world to Selfiestan.
How will you differentiate your products from your competitors?
While we are aware of other brands’ aims and claims of being good for Selfies, our campaign, concept, and objective is completely unique. Our newly launched Gionee A1 is the new language of fun, laughter, and sharing. We wanted to launch this product in India by offering a new expression to young users today. Hence we, at Gionee, consciously chose to take the larger platform, that of owning the world of Selfies, which we have branded as #Selfiestan.
#Selfiestan is the embodiment of a world where people can express themselves freely and showcase their love for selfies, and we are proud to have brought our own version of selfies to India with this campaign. Not just this campaign beats everything that was done in the past around selfies but is also well placed to take the world of ‘Selfie’ way forward in India.
What your strategy to deal with tier 2 and 3 markets?
We at Gionee India have undertaken a robust expansion to fortify our retail footprint in the country. We have grown our distribution network by 30% and have doubled our national distributors in the country. We witnessed rapid expansion in Tier II and Tier III markets in the last couple of years. With around 42,000 stores and 600 exclusive service centers across the region, we are now bullish to grow manifolds in the years to come.
As the Smartphone market amplifies, we envision consolidating our position in the offline segment and building associations with customers across regions. We are even more focused on strengthening our outreach to every last customer in the country after having secured a patron base of 1.25 crore in India, which indicates the growing faith of customers in our brand.
Our customers from tier 2 and tier 3 markets have been extremely positive and receptive towards our initiatives. We are also leaving no stone unturned in gratifying them, be it through our neighborhood store outreach or onboarding their favorite celebrities to the Gionee bandwagon. Talking of which, we recently signed up three new brand ambassadors – Shruti Hasan, Diljit Dosanjh and Dulquer Salmaan in addition to our existing relationships with Alia Bhatt and Virat Kohli to further our regional and emotional connect with consumers across the country. Tapping the biggest cricketing festival in India, we are the first brand ever to sponsor front jerseys of two IPL teams – Kolkata Knight Riders and Royal Challengers Bangalore, in the same edition.
And now going a level further we have roped in the mighty Prabhas as one of our brand ambassadors, in addition to procuring ad slots of select matches in the ICC Champions Trophy.
Moreover, we now have 100 exclusive brand outlets and 250 more such outlets in the pipeline to further strengthen our retail base.
Being associated with Cricket and Bollywood has always enabled us to tap the core essence of our target audience. That is why, with careful selection and preparation, we are extremely proud and happy to keep our customer base engaged by associating with these wonderful luminaries as our brand ambassadors.