Low-End Handsets

By Surina Sayal , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | February 09, 2011

Towards the end of 2009 and all through 2010, the low-cost mobile handset market grew by leaps and bounds with new smaller players shaking up the foundation of established handset marketers.

Brands like Micromax, which came in with stylish and functional low-end handset models, made companies like Nokia look at their marketing strategies again. The latter, too, began launching low-end phones or dropped the prices of the existing ones. Micromax's attractiveness lay in the fact that its phones are loaded with all essential features. The company managed to offer features like advanced camera, internet browsing, Bluetooth and dual SIM functionality at unbelievably low prices. It even took on Akshay Kumar as a brand ambassador, along with his wife, former actor Twinkle Khanna (they appeared in the 'Bling' model's campaign).

More brands jumped into the fray. In came Karbonn, Fly, Maxx, Spice, Onida, G'Five andLava. Never had so many handset manufacturers launched all at once. Later in 2010, telecom major Bharti also entered the market, via a subsidiary company, Beetel. In September it launched eight handsets within the range of `1,700-7,000. The reason for launching these was attributed to the healthy growth of 30 per cent that mobile phones in the range of `2,000-6,000 were seeing in India. To put things in perspective, over 130 million handsets are being sold in India each year.

Gupta of Cheil Worldwide attributes this growth to changing lifestyles. He says, "The increase in penetration has made phones accessible to a host of people. This audience is not driven by old rules and old brands. They evaluate everything with a fresh perspective. They are driven by two interesting things: phones open up new opportunities that didn't exist earlier, and the constant transient nature of their work has meant the need for two SIMS. Both were tapped proactively by the new entrants. They rewrote rules and gained market share."

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