Smartphones have made human life much simpler and so there is chaos among end-users to get the latest smartphones with top-line features. The growth is highly attributed to the new innovations happening across this industry however the feature phone market is unable to keep the pace due to changing demands of customers and new technologies coming in. The global and domestic brands who are serving to smartphone market are attaining remarkable growth which is helping them to expand consumer base by offering the latest smartphones on the right time to keep them loyal to their brand. DT recently interacted with Mr. Arijeet Talapatra, CEO of TRANSSION Holdings India to know more about the smartphone market. He spoke over itel’s performance and how they are expanding their business in the Indian market.
DT: How do you see the smartphone market and its growth in India?
Arijeet: India is the second largest smartphone market in the world after China. According to the Counterpoint Research report, smartphone shipments in India grew to 37 million units, single-digit annually during Q2 2019 setting a second-quarter shipment record. This leads to an increase in demand and affordable prices increase the appetite for consumption of smartphones. If we talk about the distribution mediums—the online channel has definitely resulted in more sales and made smartphones available on-the-go but talking about the offline medium on the other hand, still remains the largest channel for mobile phone distribution in India and is crucial for the long-term success for any brand in India. The smartphone industry is definitely booming with a lot of trends—be it full screen display, dual camera, face unlock technology, artificial intelligence, etc.,
Aligned with this trend, itel has a singular objective of democratizing technology and empowering the consumers with budget-friendly mobility experience. Over the last years, itel is aiming towards fuelling the aspiration of the masses thereby, empowering the Indian consumers in rural and semi-urban markets with magical technological experience. The brand has been undertaking intense research of Indian markets and committed towards developing products that are customized to the needs of the users. The products deliver futuristic features at incredibly affordable prices such as enhanced AI dual camera, dual security features – multifunctional fingerprint sensor and face unlock, HD+ IPS full screen, Dual 4G VoLTE, etc.
DT: What is your go-to-market strategy for the Indian market?
Arijeet: One of the key reasons for itel’s success is the unique Go-To-Market strategy—an offline ‘only’ consumer-centric brand for the masses. The strategy has helped itel break away from the clutter and reach a wider user base in tier-3 markets and below thereby making itel within the reach of every consumer in India.
At itel, we always want to render powerful and innovative technology to our consumers. We are a consumer-centric company; hence we continuously study the needs of the consumers from all the markets and keep up with the latest trends in technology thereby translating those insights into products which are accessible to our customers and can change their lives. In the last one year, itel has also driven full-fledged and impactful regional branding activities across all key festivals to make their customers’ celebrations more delightful and memorable through its marketing campaigns and a refreshed portfolio.
itel is a brand for the masses and believes in creating affinity across its audience segments through associations that would strike an immediate chord with its consumers. Recently, itel has become the official partner of the leading Kabaddi team, UP Yoddha. Through this partnership with UP Yoddha, itel aims to create a deeper connection, garner immediate attention, and build familiarity for the brand, that’ll bring us closer to our mass consumers and will help us to add potential new customers. These marketing interventions are aligned with itel’s belief in driving connect by localised market outreach programs across its priority, tier-3 to tier-6 markets in India with the aim of establishing an emotional and cultural connection with its users.
DT: What is your vision till 2020?
Arijeet: Presently, we are working towards to bring latest technologies in camera and screens in sub 5K category. Talking about 2020, we will witness deeper penetration and adoption, thereby driving the digital shift amongst the masses across India and strengthening our journey as a leading most admired smartphone brand in below 5K segment. All in all, there’s a lot to look out for in 2020!
DT: How do you see the future of feature phones in India? Where do you see the growing demand for such phones?
Arijeet: According to the recent Counterpoint report, the feature phone market has continued to grow over the last three years. In 2019, a little more than 400 million feature phones will be sold globally. Further, feature phone shipments are expected to reach one billion units by 2021. Feature phones are evolving basic consumer needs and are equally in demand as compared to smartphones. In the era of revolution in feature phones, the transformation is at its pace; feature phones have a foreseeable future in the mobile phone industry as there is a favorable reception of feature phones by consumers in the Indian markets. The consumption of feature phones mostly lies in tier-3 and below regions.
DT: What is the biggest differentiator between itel and other market players?
Arijeet: As compared to the other market players, our biggest USP is that—itel is an offline ‘only’ consumer-centric brand for the masses and this strategy has really helped us to reach a wider user base across tier-3 markets and below, thereby, making the products available to each and every consumer in pan India. Aligned with the right to progressive ideology, itel believes in democratizing technology for the masses with the objective of driving rural and semi-urban Indian consumers onto a digital platform. Consumer satisfaction is our priority and to satisfy our consumers, we provide them an access to premium quality products, which are localized and designed to meet their specific requirements at a budget-friendly price. We constantly focus on providing futuristic features such as AI-based dual camera, dual 4G VoLTE compatibility, multi-use fingerprint sensors, enhanced security measures through face unlock technology all under 5K.
DT: Please brief us about your distribution model. What are your plans to boost your channel strength?
Arijeet: itel has a vigorous footprint via mass market distribution and is present across PAN India with 970+ plus channel partners and more than 1 lakh retailers enabling the company to cater to the length and the breadth of the country along with 950+ service touchpoints to cater to the post-sales need of our consumers in India.
itel is a channel-driven company and our channel partners play an integral part for our business; fortifying our channel is key for us. In order to boost the channel strength, we believe their profitability and growth along with the brand plays an imperative role. We have also rolled out multiple partner-focused schemes and distribution engagement programs at a localized level that help us in strengthening our relationship with our partners. itel believes to be part of every celebration and goes an extra mile to bring that smile to its partners and consumers.
DT: How has been the response of customers with regards to your recent A46 smartphone launch? How it gives competition to other brands under this segment?
Arijeet: The response that we have received with the launch of itel A46 (2GB+16GB) is overwhelming. One of the key reasons for itel’s success is that we are consistently listening to our users and creating devices that they want at an affordable price point- itel A46 is one such product.
With due respect to the competition, itel truly believes in democratizing technology for masses by offering great value in each product, offering premium quality products, which are localized and designed to meet their specific requirements at a budget-friendly price—itel A46 stands by that vision. This phone is a powerful combination of technology, aspirational features and aesthetics that transforms the sub 5k category. A46 has an enhanced AI dual camera and HD fullscreen that too at a price of only INR 4,999. The smartphone comes loaded with premium double security features like face unlock and multi-functional fingerprint sensor which are quite impressive, especially in the sub 5k price segment. Also, it is equipped with Dual 4G VoLTE, premium dual-tone IDs loaded with latest Android operating system and an octa-core processor, 5.45-inches HD+ IPS fullscreen, latest Android™ 9 Pie OS, gradient finish covers and 2GB RAM memory all at a budget-friendly price of INR 4999!
DT: Please brief about your service support module. How many service centers do you have currently?
Arijeet: At itel, our mission is to provide a superior smartphone experience to all our consumers through unique service proposition. itel was a pioneer in launching the unique service proposition of 100 days’ replacement warranty, the promise which showcases the quality offerings that we provide to our consumers. To bolster the service offerings across its brands, TRANSSION Holdings launched its exclusive after-sales service brand, ‘Carlcare’ in India. TRANSSION India has COCO (company-owned, company-controlled) service centres – one in Noida and another in Mumbai. Additionally, we have over 950+ service touchpoints in India. We certainly have been a trendsetter in the industry when it comes to service proposition.