Arshita Bhardwaj

"Above a certain price point, we want all our devices to be 4G": Arvind Vohra, Gionee

Gionee, a China-based smartphone player that made its India foray in March 2013, is among the top seven handset players in India, presently. The goal, we learn from Arvind Vohra, the Country CEO and Managing Director, is to infiltrate the top five by the year-end.

We spoke to him on the side-lines of the India Beach Fashion Week, an event presented by Gionee. Edited Excerpts.

Edited Excerpts

What can we expect from Gionee in 2015?

We have a very well-planned roadmap for 2015, with our focus lying mainly on 4G devices.

We have an advantage over other players - We're a company from China; we have already adopted 4G there. Hence, we have the economies in place. Above a certain price point, we would want all our devices to be 4G. We are also particular about the screen size of our devices - we want to make sure they support the new technology for a unique customer experience.

How has Gionee fared in the recent past? And what's the retail front looking like?

For us, handset value is more important than handset sales. We do business of close to Rs. 250 crore a month. We have around 22,582 shops across the country, of which 5,763 have in-store promoters and are manned by our own people.

Most brands make tall claims about digital being the focus of their marketing strategy. Tell us about your plans on this front...

We have had a sound digital strategy in place for a long time. Our target audience is 12 to 18 years old. Of course, people right up to the age of 30 like to put themselves in the same bracket, thanks to the nature of the category. So, in a nutshell, our target group comprises people up to the age of 30... they are young at heart.

We strive to generate a lot of content through partnerships and sponsoring events like the India Beach Fashion Week, Supersonic, Sunburn, etc. because our target audience loves to associate with such events.

In your segment, nearly all the players source material from China. How does a brand like Gionee differentiate itself?

We don't source; we are a manufacturer. That enables us to bring to our users the latest innovations faster, and more assuredly than competition. We have a capacity of 80 million devices a year and do business of over 2.3 billion dollars, annually.

Is it true that internet adoption is pushing smartphone sales in India?

Volume-wise, I doubt it, but value-wise, yes!

And some say, it's the other way around...

In my opinion, it's not smartphones that are driving the business; rather, it's the need for the internet that is doing so. Internet penetration is expected to increase on devices like smartphones, not on tablets or PCs. It's the need to use the internet on a personal device that is pushing the business.

When you entered this market, what made you begin with the non-metros?

When we entered the market, we realised that the metros were saturated with large, organised players controlling a large share. Metros are very badge-value conscious; they place a lot of value on brands. For us, smaller cities - where distributors still have a lot of influence and reach of their own - were a better bet to get consumer acceptance. From there, it was easy to go national, with the momentum of numbers from these markets behind us.

Yours is a competitive segment. While reports about the 'No.1' brand are released, debated and rejected, why don't you give us your take on the same?

It is quite difficult to say which brand is on top, but according to me Samsung has the pole position right now.

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