New ways to push the market buttons

Even as smartphones have evolved into more of a necessity than luxury, and countless budget phones flood the market every day, newer players are actively eyeing a share of the pie.

Chinese smartphone manufacturer Gionee Smartphones is keen to ride the growing smartphone craze. Gionee entered the Indian market in 2011, and now has a market share of  3 per cent in the segment. Explaining the company’s strategy to achieve revenues of  Rs 6,100 crore by fiscal 2016. In an e-mail interaction with Matthew Thomas, Gionee Smartphones India Head Arvind R Vohra reveals the company’s strategy to focus on the retail front while pushing greater pervasiveness in the Indian market. 
As the demand for Chinese budget phones increases in the Indian market, what are your plans and goals for the future to strengthen your position?

Gionee has had a successful debut in Indian market; in the last 15 months, we have got great response from consumers. We have been successful in making inroads into the industry and build a niche for ourselves.  For Gionee, our products are the prime focus and we are working on introducing a slew of innovative and quality products in the near future. This year, we are focusing on the retail front to take our brand to the next level. To serve our customers  better and with more efficiency we plan to open 250 brand stores, 4,000 in-store promoted, 2,500 shop-in-shops and 750 service centres by next year. We have also been engaging in marketing initiatives, associating ourselves with global platforms and running TV commercials to reach out to our audience. 
Gionee’s flagship product ELife S5.5 was released in April.  What was the customer response in India? Is the phone targeted at any particular segment?

Gionee has been scaling new heights with the launch of Gionee ELife S5.5 and has seen great response in the Indian market. Gionee ELife S5.5 was launched under the S series and has gone on to create a new benchmark for the brand. We are glad to be able to make such a huge impact on the consumers in such a short span of time and now have a patron base of around 2 million satisfied consumers across the country. The product has gone on to enhance our brand position in the market.

With Gionee ELife S5.5, the attempt has been target Indian youth who are willing to experiment with new brands. Giving the right product at the right price is our primary focus.  The Gionee brand has been able to cut across all the segments and is accepted as an alternate with the freshness. Maintaining high standards of service and providing upgrades and feature enhancements through software updates are very important parts of our plans in India. 
Availability of service centres is a concern for many users. How many service centres do you have in India at the moment, do you have plans to raise that number?

Gionee has given customer care utmost priority because the brand believes that customer service is like insurance. We have more than 500 service centres up and running and will have 750 centres by the coming year to carry forward our initiative of serving customers better.
Which is the highest selling model in terms of volume in the Indian market?

With the launch of each product in our series, we have always wanted to give maximum value for money to our consumers. In the past year, we have launched a range of products like the Pioneer series which are budget-friendly smartphones, the E series focusing on camera quality, Marathon series which rides high on powerful battery metrics and the S series known for its perfect mix of style and performance. All our series have their own USPs.
Any plans to foray into any new markets in the coming months?

Presently, our entire focus is the India and we are working towards strengthening our position in the market. 
What is your current market share in the smartphone market?

Since the entry in the Indian market, Gionee has been doing really well. The brand has done business worth Rs 520 crore in the first quarter of the ongoing financial year and is looking to do business worth Rs 3,000 crore by the end of this fiscal year. Gionee is selling around 9,000 plus handsets per day today. As per industry analysis, Gionee has over 3 per cent market share in the smartphone segment.
How are you differentiating your company in comparison with smartphone players like Samsung?

Gionee has positioned itself as a brand offering the best features and performance at a rational price which other devices lack. To differentiate your brand from the multitude, you need to continuously evolve and offer new and innovative products in every launch. We have kept our pricing in competition with homegrown firms, but have not compromised on the technical front. We are positioning our product somewhere between the two categories of homegrown firms and multinational brands.

 Our view of the market is like this: about 60 per cent of the market is owned by the multinational brands, with the rest being fought out by local brands. This breakup of the market would stay as the brand conscious 60 per cent of buyers won’t go in for local brands, while those using local brands would by and large stay there. We are positioning our products to attract both these segments and have been successful at it.

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