• Ajay Sharma

Vocal For Local – Indian Smartphone Brands, Are You Ready?

The survey results are out. The right time is around the corner, only if the cards played are alright.

Way back in February, or for that matter early March, #CoronaVirus was just a local issue for most. No one anticipated the extent and the speed with which it would engulf the globe, impacting the lives and livelihood of people.

The Indian smartphone industry too had to bear, rather still is bearing the hit. The impact of Corona on the smartphone industry became the most talked and written about subject by everyone – be it the industry veterans, analysts, research agencies or brand CXOs. Opinions on the subject were and still are being shared through articles, blogs and webinars. Everyone has something to say on the subject.

I have also been sharing my thoughts on it through my blogs and YouTube videos. But did anyone try to get feedback from the key stakeholders – company employees, distributors, retailers and ISDs? No. All of us have been taking a top-down approach, sharing what we think will happen during and post #COVID-19. The reason for conducting this survey was to understand what do these key stakeholders think about the smartphone industry post COVID.

I was pleasantly surprised with the participation from all and would like to thank everybody who took out time to complete the survey.

Now, over to the findings:

1. We have been seeing various reports on an Indian customer not being loyal to any brand. Well, the results are contradictory! Brand loyalty appears right at the top. Brand visibility which is normally rated as the most important came in second.

2. Relationship with the retailers, which according to me gets the least attention, got highlighted as particularly important post COVID. As highlighted in my blog and vlog earlier, retailers have been paying little attention to their customers and relying a lot on their teams and ISDs. This has to change NOW (offline to understand), a fact highlighted by me earlier as well.

3. The survey shows a reducing role for ISDs which surprisingly is in-line with my forecast on the key changes post COVID-19, I’d talked about in one of my earlier vlogs. Astonishing!

4. A low price: specification ratio is what Indians love and the survey findings confirm that too.

5. The fact that Indians want to have the latest technology is also endorsed by the survey findings, with the parameter being no. 2 for a customer while taking a decision to buy a new smartphone model.

6. ISD’s selling skills are last. Once again something I’d mentioned in one of my previous blogs.

7. Another point I’d made in one YouTube video where I talked about the redundancy of unnecessary hardware upgrades going forward, also stands supported by the majority of respondents who too believe, will lose relevance post COVID-19 as they don’t really contribute much. I think the customers are getting tired of the war of RAM, No. of Cameras, Camera Mega Pixels etc. They want “real” differentiators now.

8. Face recognition, with masks becoming the norm for some time at least, is seen as losing relevance.

9. Fingerprint sensors still hold some relevance but that can change if gloves also become a basic requirement like masks.