During the India Gadget Expo 2014, which was held in Hyderabad (19-22 June), we got a chance to interview Mr. Arvind Vohra who heads Gionee’s smartphone business in India. We got to know their marketing strategy, insights about product planning and their renewed focus on software. We also received some clarifications about its online sales strategy.
Marketing strategy and brand recognition
Currently, Gionee is targeting young consumers (age group of 12-25 years). They think that these consumers are frequent buyers and they have a strong influence on buying decisions of consumers from other age groups. Arvind believes that negative image about Chinese brands can only be removed with brand marketing, quality of products and after-sales service. In the past, they have tied up with prestigious award functions like Star GIMA Awards and they are the official sponsor of the upcoming Star Vijay awards this year. Gionee currently has over 500 service centres and they are planning to increase the number to 750 by the end of this year. This will help a lot in improving the brand trust.
Competition and problems with online sales
Arvind stated that competing smartphone brands from China such as Oppo, Huawei and Lenovo do not understand the Indian market properly. Although, he does think that Xiaomi and Coolpad are worthy opponents and Gionee will defend themselves with better products and pricing strategy.
Earlier, Gionee had issued a statement cautioning users about buying Gionee products online. He also mentioned that they do not want to jeopardise their brand image by selling online as they have had issues with warranty for products sold online. Arvind admitted that they do not have any firm strategy for selling their devices online. Although he promised that as soon as they find out a key strategy, they will push online sales through Gionee E-Store as well as other popular online stores.
Devices, product planning and software issues
Gionee has started focussing on better software. Gionee will release Android 4.4 KitKat update for V5, Elife E7 Mini and Elife S5.5 by July. Although they do not have any firm schedule of Android 4.4 KitKat release for the Elife E7 but they are working on it. They are strategising about smartphones with stock Android ROM and releasing the Amigo App Launcher as a separate software on the Google Play Store.
We came to know that a flagship smartphone like the Elife E7 takes around 18 months for product conceptualisation, designing and its final entry into the market. On the other hand, a mid-range smartphone like Elife S5.5 needs around 12 months for the same process to happen. They are already working on a successor to the Elife E7 with has an even better camera and a successor to the Elife S5.5 which we reviewed recently. These upcoming devices will be compatible with 4G LTE networks in India.