China controls at least 73% of Indian Smartphone Market. 4 out of 5 top selling brands in India are Chinese. The only prominent non-Chinese player in Indian Smartphone Market is Samsung.

Brand wise Market share of the Indian Smartphone Market

Samsung has been losing its market share for quite some time now, and it’s the Chinese brands that have been taking over it. Chinese brands have almost 80% of the smartphone market which is huge, the prominent player being Xiaomi, vivo, Oppo, realme, and some other brands like Huawei, Oneplus, Honor which also has some shares but not as quite as huge as them.

Why should we talk about BBK Electronics?

BBK Electronics doesn’t sound anything related to this topic, but the fact of the matter is BBK Electronics is the largest brand by Market Share in the Indian Smartphone Market, let me explain.

3 out of top 5 Chinese Smartphone brands are owned by BBK electronics.

Brands under BBK electronics: Oppo, RealMe, Vivo, Oneplus, and recently it launched Iqoo; another brand that will focus on the Indian market, while RealMe is a sub-brand of Oppo.

Collectively BBK has around 50% of Indian Smartphone Market beating Xioami as the biggest brand in India.

The Chinese strategy of Sub-Brand.

Chinese manufactures have a strategy of launching sub-brands for already established brands, Oppo; which gained its popularity on the Offline market launched RealMe which was more focused on the budget category and online market and it had exponential growth year over year.

Xiaomi used the Redmi brand for some of its lower budget smartphones before splitting off as an independent brand. People started associating the Redmi brand with a lower budget smartphone so, Xiaomi had to split it off which would hurt its brand value over the long run.

Xiaomi launched another brand called Poco; which was launched as an affordable gaming smartphone, with extremely high-end internals which was on par with the flagships of that time offered by Samsung and others but the price was of a mid-budget smartphone which made it a very successful in terms of sales.

Marketing Strategy of the Chinese Brands.

Let us first see how Xiaomi took over the market, Xiaomi launched MI 3 as its first phone for the Indian Market.

Xiaomi had a fairly unconventional way of marketing their product, at least back in 2014 it was. While we can also say it had no marketing budget and the entire marketing strategy was built on “Hype”.

You could only purchase the MI 3 on Flipkart that too on “Flash sale”, flash sale was introduced by Xiaomi which did wonders for them, it means a specific number of products on a specific date and time is allocated for each sale which works on first come first serve basis, there were times where Xiaomi sold thousands of smartphones in seconds making Flipkart crash for the first time during MI 3 launch, later almost every brand adopted the idea of Flash Sale.

Oppo and Vivo both were offline focused, Oppo and Vivo spend exorbitant amounts of money for its branding, from hiring huge Bollywood actors as ambassadors to huge banners all over India.  

Oppo launched RealMe to focus on the online market while Oppo could focus on the offline as it has been, Realme was extremely successful and had higher growth number than Xiaomi.

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Hold on the logistics.

Almost every Chinese Brand has an assembling unit in India, from Xiaomi to OnePlus which makes it very easy for them to offer the phones at the price they do, as it skips on the import taxes, for instance; OnePlus 8 Pro 256GB is priced 60k INR or $780 in India while in UK it costs $1000.

How the Indian brands lost the battle?

India had a fairly good number of home-grown smartphone brands like Micromax, Karbonn, Intex, etc. According to Counterpoint’s research of the Indian Smartphone market for 2015.

Micromax was the second largest smartphone shipper with 15% of the share, followed by Intex; another Indian brand while Samsung had the largest share with 27%.

Xiaomi entered the Indian market in 2014 and it changed the game completely, people were buying phones online now; 22% of all smartphone sold was exclusively via E-commerce in 2015

Micromax and other Indian players were mostly focused on the offline market, while there are many factors for their failures, some of the reasons are bad after-sales-service, shamelessly re-branding Chinese phones, etc.

India is a very price-sensitive market and Micromax and all the others had good pricing but Chinese brands like Xiaomi, Oppo, etc, were offering better hardware and software experience, good after-sales service for a similarly or lower priced product.

Indian brands lacked innovation and the excitement around it faded away, it also lost its credibility by re-branding Chinese phones.

Will Samsung be able to get back to its #1 position?

Samsung was kind of reluctant to offer low budget phones for decent hardware and features until recently Samsung didn’t really have a decent product for under 15000INR which is by far the biggest selling segment in India, Samsung launched the A-series & M-Series which were focused on the upper mid-range and some budget segment and it sold pretty well.

Samsung had a fairly decent grip on the premium segment until recently OnePlus has been eating up this segment as well, more on that later.

It’s a really tough job for Samsung to get back where it was but we can’t say it won’t be able to cause Samsung has a brand reputation and trust being the brand it is.

Is OnePlus a threat to Samsung & Apple?

Recent numbers by counterpoint research and analyst says it should be.

According to Counterpoint OnePlus has been the number 1 selling smartphone in the premium segment for the entire year, its shipment grew by 28% for the year 2019.

OnePlus being an enthusiast brand and its continuous improvement with its offering seems a pretty valid threat to Samsung and Apple.

Over the years OnePlus has diversified its product catalogue from a two phone annually to becoming a four phone annually, OnePlus phones hover around 30-40k INR which is a premium segment in India but recently its phones have been getting expensive and crossed 50k for its Pro variant, it is also rumored that OnePlus will be launching a budget smartphone in July which will cost around 20K INR, with all these we can assume that OnePlus is slowly becoming a mainstream brand and its pretty popular amongst the millennials.

Other key Factors.

  • Understanding the Indian consumers more than the Indian Brands themselves.
  • Delivering the right product at the right time.
  • Quality Product at a relatively cheap price.
  • Market analysis in terms of consumer demand.

Conclusion.

India with its huge population and its growing internet penetration seems to be the next big market after China, not just for Smartphone brands but technology companies in general, while everyone wants to get a piece of the pie only the strongest will survive.

After Oppo launched the Realme brand Xiaomi has been hit hard, seeing all this one is uncertain to what will happen next and who will lose, every brand has been launching phones to please the Indian customer cause no market is as sensitive as India.

With so many brands fighting each other, we can only wait and watch the show while the consumers can benefit from extremely good quality product for a cheap price.

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