The successful run of several Chinese smartphone brands in India—from Xiaomi to OnePlus—has paved the way for new players to follow in their footsteps. Shenzen-based firm Riversong, a relatively new entrant into India’s cut-throat tech market, has big plans for the future. But wisely, it has chosen to steer clear of the smartphone segment.
Riversong specialises in making wearables and accessories like data cables, power banks and earphones. The brand was founded back in 2015 and began its India operations in 2017, swiftly gaining a significant consumer base here.
Their fitness gadgets, because of their affordability and high performance grade, are particularly popular among buyers. “Consumers are becoming health-conscious with every passing day and technology plays a major role in their lifestyle,” Manvendra K. Chandola, CEO of Riversong India, told Guardian 20. “We keep industry trends and latest technology at the centre while devising new products to cater to our customers’ needs. We focus on keeping in line with our USP of providing best quality products at competitive prices across categories, and it helps us stand out in the industry. More and more people are buying different smart wearables for themselves and for their family. Day by day, the market size is increasing.”
Besides wearables, the brand also makes smartphone accessories which account for a good share of annual earnings. In India, the market for mobile accessories is still largely untapped. Chandola said, “90% of the mobile accessories category is captured by unorganised players in the market. Consumers here are upgrading their mobiles from feature phones to smartphones every other day which creates a lot of scope for a brand like Riversong to bring their products here.”
For close to a decade now, Chinese tech brands have had an upper hand in India. Some have even set up manufacturing units here. In Chandola’s view, such brands will continue to grow on these shores. “Chinese players are going to play a major role because of the advantage of technology that their products run on, and that too at an affordable price,” he said.
The factor that attracts foreign brands to India is the country’s demographic potential, which is second only to China’s, and its positive growth forecast. “India is among the fastest growing countries in the world and due to the increase in purchasing power of Indian consumers, the Indian market has an immense potential for new products and brands. The growth is determined by factors such as rise in income levels, urbanisation and attitudinal shifts,” Chandola said.
But the downside of setting up shop here is the competitive environment where only the fittest can survive. How does a brand like Riversong cope with that? To this, Chandola said, “Currently we are positioned as a brand for the niche segment in tier-I and tier-II cities and we aim to become the leading brand for smart devices globally. Like any other brand entering a new market, we too faced challenges—like customer acceptance, competitive product range, product accessibility and availability. But owing to the extensive product range we offer, and the latest innovative technology used in our products, we have overcome these challenges at this stage and hope to make a mark in the industry soon.”
Initially, the brand had an online-only presence, selling its products through Amazon. But over time, they have moved to retail stores in order to reach out to the maximum number of buyers. “In India, users still prefer to go to a store to experience the gadget and then buy the product. We wanted to increase our reach and so we started expanding to offline stores as well. We were online till mid-2018. Our offline presence was established in Q4 of 2018. As of now, we are present offline in 13 states, with 28 super distributors, 68 micro distributors and 7,180 retailers. We plan to cover 25,000 retailers by June 2019.”
In the near future, Riversong plans to further diversify into as-yet untapped segments of the tech space, like gaming. “It is a good segment to think about,” Chandola said about gaming. “Sound and music are equally important to get a feel of a game. We are coming up with some good headphones which will create an enhanced user experience for gamers. Also, this year we have many new launches in the pipeline across the consumer technology space from smart wearables to IoT products.”