A chat with the India marketing head about smartphones, pandemic-caused challenges and e-commerce sales.
Before COVID hit, India was hopeful about growth and making progress. However, the pandemic has been a defining chapter in the country’s economic story. During 2020, there was a slowdown in the pace of growth. However, come 2021, India began unlocking and there were signs of recovery.
There’s been increase in sales and big ticket purchases, such as smartphones, during the recent festive season. Oppo is a brand that has had a good festive season. Over a Zoom call, its chief marketing officer Damyant Singh Khanoria talks about the season. He mentions that Diwali is a critical time in the company’s calendar and the team has been preparing for it for months in advance to keep up with the demand.
“This year, e-commerce brands leveraged shopping festivals. With our campaign, we aim to connect with our customers, instead of making this rallying cry to buy our products. All of us have gone through a lot this year. It has been a stressful time.”
Khanoria adds that with the markets opening up, tech products have been able to snap back quickly. “We launched the Reno 6 Series and the F Series of phones earlier this year, and they are doing well (in terms of sales).”
"Touch and feel are still very important, since consumers need to be able to hold the phone in their hands to be able to fully experience it."
According to him, smartphones have been selling equally well offline at retail stores, as well as online on e-commerce platforms. “Just like we have a hybrid model for work, we’ll have a hybrid model for sales, going forward. Touch and feel are still very important, since consumers need to be able to hold the phone in their hands to be able to fully experience it.”
“It’s also no longer a question if consumers are going to make these purchases on e-commerce platforms. In the last few months, we have been able to build a lot of traction with the help of our e-commerce partners. It’s an established behaviour that consumers don’t necessarily need to physically test the device before buying it.”
"It’s an established behaviour that consumers don’t necessarily need to physically test the device before buying it."
“The e-commerce business is as strong as the offline business,” says Khanoria. He adds that this is when content from key opinion leaders and tech influencers plays a role in building brand trust. In addition to sales, Oppo India also focuses heavily on after-sales service. The company emphasises heavily on this service using its social network platforms. It also ran an ad campaign to this effect earlier this year.
One example that Khanoria shares with us, is of an old man in China who owned an older Oppo phone model, but was unable to go out and get it serviced. The company sent a team of technicians to his house to ensure that the device was adequately repaired.
He calls the pandemic a challenging time for him and his team. During the conversation, he emphasises on how brainstorming for new ideas has taken a different shape. Remote and collaborative working took on a whole new meaning at this time.
"Nothing in my career could have prepared me for this pandemic."
“Nothing in my career could have prepared me for this pandemic. We had to get used to this new way of life. Now, creating a Plan A and Plan B is not enough. We need to plan for multiple scenarios when designing marketing messages and product launches. One of the biggest challenges is predicting how a consumer’s mood and mindset will be at any point of time. We’ve gone through a lot with this pandemic,” Khanoria signs off.
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