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Photo: Mint
Photo: Mint

Firms tap anger against China

  • The backlash against Beijing’s growing territorial aggression has opened a window of opportunity for non-Chinese firms
  • As many as 40% of respondents to a survey say they won’t buy a Chinese product

NEW DELHI : A range of Indian and foreign companies—from app developers to mobile phone makers—are benefiting from the growing public anger against China, which has seeded mistrust of Chinese firms in India by flexing its military might along the border.

The backlash against Beijing’s growing territorial aggression has opened a window of opportunity for non-Chinese firms. For instance, Mitron, which was launched as an Indian alternative to Chinese short video app TikTok, was downloaded 5 million times within a month of its launch. Similarly, retailers have noticed a surge in interest in electronic products from non-Chinese vendors.

According to a Mumbai-based mobile and electronics retailer, as many as 40% of customers have said they won’t buy a Chinese product. Many of them are buying non-Chinese brands such as Samsung, the person said seeking anonymity.

To tap the wave of anger against China, India’s Micromax has decided to launch three budget smartphones with premium features in the domestic market.

Electronics makers in India will also get a boost from the recently announced production-linked incentive scheme. As part of the programme, the government will choose five Indian and five global firms and help them expand mobile phone manufacturing in India by offering incentives on increasing production.

“This is a great opportunity for Indian brands. Surely these schemes will give them a boost, but it will take time," said Navkendar Singh, research director, client devices, IDC India.

“It will take a few years before we see a comeback by Indian brands with a 100% made-in-India product portfolio. Of course, this needs to be supported by marketing investments and channel expansions, just like what China-based brands have done in the past 4-5 years," added Singh.

Apart from Mitron, several short video apps competing with TikTok have seen a spike in users. One of them is US-based Firework. Since May, the company has seen a 30% increase in usage by content creators. Fireworks claims to have 186 million monthly active users in India.

A report by app intelligence firm Sensor Tower shows TikTok’s new downloads dropped from 23.5 million in April to 10 million in June (till 22 June). Similarly, PUBG Mobile’s new downloads shrank from 9.9 million in April to 6.6 million in June and Bigo Live’s from 2.5 million to 1.8 million.

To mitigate the damage, Chinese electronic brands are drawing public attention to the fact that most of their phones are made in India.

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