Samsung battles for India’s smartphone market

It aims to compete with Xiaomi and other Chinese brands that have made hefty inroads

Mumbai: Sometimes keeping ahead of the game means learning some tricks from rivals – a strategy Samsung Electronics Co Ltd hasn’t been too proud to adopt in India where Xiaomi Corp and other Chinese brands have made hefty inroads.

Pages pulled from their playbooks include becoming savvier with online marketing to millennials as Samsung seeks to reinvent itself as a ‘younger brand’, as well as providing sales staff for smaller stores and even finding a new love for cricket with a sponsorship deal.

Combined with a slew of new models – many aimed at undermining Chinese dominance of the $150 to $300 phone segment – the new tactics are paying off with the South Korean tech giant reclaiming the No. 1 spot in the second quarter. “Samsung was living in a sort of denial of the threat that Xiaomi, Oppo, Vivo posed but now they’ve come out of the ostrich hole,” said Rushabh Doshi, research manager at industry tracker Canalys. “Now they are fighting back, definitely.”

Its Galaxy J6 launched in May and the J8 sold from July have been doing especially well, each selling 50,000 a day, says Samsung. In an appeal to millennials, the phones have a new “chat over video” feature which allows users to view videos without interruption even as they chat by text due to a transparent keyboard.

A younger, hipper Samsung

  • To promote its $210 Galaxy On6 smartphone launched last month, Samsung has eschewed traditional TV advertising. Instead it embarked on one of its most aggressive online campaigns, enlisting Bollywood actors
  • “It’s not just one ad which you’ll see again and again. Because millennials will get bored. What we want to do is to engage them, said Ranjivjit Singh, Samsung India’s chief marketing officer.
  • “Chinese brands such as Xiaomi, OnePlus have built a strong presence in India by targeting the youth with grand fan festivals when they launch models,” said Neil Shah, research director at Counterpoint.
  • But some analysts warn that Samsung will have to come up with creative social media strategies if it wants to maintain its lead over Chinese rivals.

Huawei overtakes Apple as No. 2

  • China’s Huawei Technologies overtook Apple Inc to become the world’s second-biggest smartphone seller in the June quarter, data from market research firms showed.
  • The estimated rise in market share comes as a slowdown in the world’s biggest smartphone market, China, eased. Huawei has also managed to get ahead of rivals by selling more feature-packed phones, analysts said.
  • Huawei is shifting to more value-added models, by launching new flagship smartphones with the latest features.
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