One of the most successful Chinese smartphone brands in our time, Vivo has gone from strength to strength in the last few years. The brand entered the Indian market in 2014, establishing itself as a major player here in short order.
Now, Vivo is looking to expand its India business further, according to Nipun Marya, Vivo India’s brand strategy director. In an exclusive interview with Guardian 20, Marya said that the brand’s strong foundation and its customer-first approach remain central to
“Vivo entered the India market in 2014, with a long-term commitment and a clear strategy to keep the customer at the centre of all our operations and focus on getting the fundamentals right. Today, it is needless to say that the smartphone market in India has a vast potential and opportunity, with a healthy competition in the ecosystem that makes ‘disruption’ the name of the game. In the long run, it is critical for a brand to have a solid foundation and a customer-first approach,” Marya said.
Vivo phones have always stood out in terms of performance and quality. With the Vivo NEX, for instance, which came out last year, users got to experience a phone with an elevating front camera for the first time. Marya said, “Innovation has been our key differentiator. Since the inception of our operations in India, Vivo has been able to bring the right mix of meaningful yet innovative technologies that are most relevant for Indian consumers. Vivo took the APEX FullView Concept Smartphone to market with the launch of NEX, the world’s first phone featuring the elevating front camera and in-display fingerprint scanning technology with an impressive 91.24% screen-to-body ratio. We also brought the in-display fingerprint scanning technology for the masses with our V11 Pro in the 20-30K segment.”
One critical parameter that determines success or failure in the smartphone industry is marketing. Vivo already excels in this field, but they are planning to improve. As Marya said, “Given the diverse nature of the Indian market, we have adopted a 360-degree marketing approach and will be present across television, digital, social and OOH [out-of-home] formats. We have also actively associated ourselves with sports and entertainment-based events. Moreover, the Indian audience is more receptive to sports- and entertainment-related activities—cricket and Bollywood—as these avenues unite people regardless of culture or language. Vivo has taken multiple initiatives which caught the industry by surprise—like signing Aamir Khan as its brand ambassador, title sponsorship of big-ticket properties like IPL and PKL, and innovative product integration in key TV properties like Kaun Banega Crorepati and Big Boss (Tamil). We believe, such allied brand building activities offer an opportunity to better connect with our valued customers.”
But in a market like India, offline presence matters much more than it does in other countries. So what is Vivo doing in this regard? “In India, our focus has been on striking the right balance between online and offline channels to drive growth in the market. It has always helped us in maintaining an optimum balance between both the channels. India is a large market, and we believe no brand can be successful in the highly competitive Indian market without reaching out to its consumers—whether they are present online or offline. Since the majority of Indian consumers still prefer to buy offline, we have a heavy focus towards building a robust retailer network and ensure the same product is also available across all major e-commerce websites at the same price. Thus we at Vivo ensure we maintain a healthy marketing mix for the Indian market to reach all types of consumers,” Marya said.
Successful tech brands always have one eye on the future. And so, Vivo is already preparing for the 5G era and developing next-gen devices. Marya said, “With the advent of 5G on the horizon, the telecom industry and the smartphone ecosystem are all set to realise the powerful capabilities that will not only change the media and entertainment industry but revolutionise global economies. We are going to witness a series of allied devices where smartphone shall play a pivotal role. Currently, we are in the planning process, but we can assure you that Vivo will continue to have a sharp focus to continue to deliver innovation-led products in India that aggressively push the technology frontiers.”
Meanwhile, the brand is adding to its manufacturing capacity in India. According to Marya, “In mid-2018, we invested Rs 300 crores in our Greater Noida plant, which employs more than 5,000 people and has an annual manufacturing capacity of nearly 25 million products. Besides manufacturing, the facility also incorporates a “Test Lab” where the manufactured products undergo more than 1,000 stringent levels of quality and durability tests… We are gearing up for our next growth phase and have decided to invest Rs 4,000 crores more for setting up a new manufacturing plant in India which aims to generate 5,000 additional employment in the first phase of expansion and double the current production capacity to 50 million units per annum. Additionally, we also plan to utilise the land for hardware and software components, R&D, testing laboratories and more to provide quality products to Indian consumers.”