Pete Lau, founder and CEO of OnePlus. (Photo: Mint)
Pete Lau, founder and CEO of OnePlus. (Photo: Mint)

OnePlus eyes brand tie-ups, offline stores to boost sales

  • OnePlus is also looking to increase focus on offline store expansion to boost sales of its premium phones
  • The firm has partnered with major retail chains and has 12 stores of its own

NEW DELHI : After cementing its place as the leader in the premium smartphone segment in India, OnePlus is looking to further enhance its presence with niche marketing campaigns, global brand tie-ups and offline store expansion. Its rivals, on the other hand, are still pushing for mass marketing campaigns, such as cricket sponsorships, to promote their brands.

The Chinese brand believes that this strategy will strengthen its premium-only brand proposition in a country where dozens of phone makers are clamouring for market share with aggressive pricing.

While other brands from the Chinese stable, such as Xiaomi, OPPO and Vivo, are betting on Bollywood celebrities to promote their flagship phones, OnePlus is breaking the norm with engagement propositions, such as music festivals and collaborations with Netflix, National Geographic and Tic Tac.

Last week, the smartphone maker announced the first-ever edition of the OnePlus Music Festival, which will be held in Mumbai in November, and feature a number of popular international and local artists across genres.

“We have an opportunity to expand the premium market. This is more challenging than taking away market share from rivals. We don’t want to devise a strategy based on what competition is doing. No other phone brand is specifically associated with music, and since music strongly resonates with the youth, we came up with this property," said Vikas Agarwal, general manager, India, OnePlus.

It has collaborated for a campaign with Netflix to promote second season of its popular show Sacred Games, releasing on 15 August. It has also teamed up with Tic Tac, owned by confectionery brand Ferrero Group, to run a campaign wherein consumers will have the opportunity to win a OnePlus 7.

“We don’t believe in mass market campaigns or celebrity endorsers. We want to team up with global brands so that users interact with OnePlus and customer stickiness increases. This is a difficult industry to be in and it is very easy to become over-ambitious. We are looking at long-term sustainable growth," Agarwal said.

Earlier, the phone maker had also partnered with National Geographic to bring out a supplement with all pictures shot on the phone.

OnePlus, which had entered India five years ago through an invite-only strategy for selling mobile devices, captured its highest ever shipment share of 43% in the premium segment in April-June, Counterpoint Research said in a note dated 30 July. Samsung had a 22% share, while Apple was at 20%.

OnePlus is also looking to increase focus on offline store expansion to boost sales of its premium phones in a market where 95% of all handset sales are budget-level smartphones.

The firm has partnered with major retail chains and has 12 stores of its own. “We want to take it to 25 by end-2020 ," Agarwal said.

The move comes at a time when growth in premium smartphone category is outpacing the overall smartphone category. Middle class incomes are rising and smartphones are becoming lifestyle statements than just devices. In fact, budget brand Xiaomi is also eyeing the premium segment, which may witness several launches from other brands in the second half of this year.

“OnePlus has been able to capitalize on strong word-of-mouth. Now, they needed to go for region-specific marketing campaigns and open more experience stores. They have priced the phones at a sweet spot, which has worked for them. They need to continue focus on this to maintain market share," Anshika Jain, an analyst with Counterpoint Research, said.

Close