OnePlus hits a new high in the premium smartphone segment in India

The OnePlus 6 mobile phone went on sale on May 22 and within 22 days, the company notched up one million sales globally. Good news for the Shenzhen-based Chinese smartphone manufacturer continues. According to data released this week by Counterpoint Research, OnePlus has surpassed Samsung to lead the premium smartphone segment for the first time in India, for a full quarter (Q2), capturing 40 per cent market share (30 per cent owing to OnePlus 6 sales, and 10 per cent owing to sales of the OnePlus 5T).

By Mathures Paul
  • Published 2.08.18
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Chitrangda Singh at a OnePlus 6 event in Mumbai on May 21

The OnePlus 6 mobile phone went on sale on May 22 and within 22 days, the company notched up one million sales globally. Good news for the Shenzhen-based Chinese smartphone manufacturer continues. According to data released this week by Counterpoint Research, OnePlus has surpassed Samsung to lead the premium smartphone segment for the first time in India, for a full quarter (Q2), capturing 40 per cent market share (30 per cent owing to OnePlus 6 sales, and 10 per cent owing to sales of the OnePlus 5T).

What has worked for the company? Vikas Agarwal, OnePlus India’s general manager, spoke to t2 over phone.

What are the factors you think have made OnePlus the number one brand in the premium segment (OnePlus is followed by Samsung and Apple)?

We were able to satisfy the needs of our core group of users and retain their trust in our products. As a company, we have always been focussed on products while actively incorporating user feedback and in the process we have created a strong brand loyalty.

Anything about OnePlus 6 in particular that has tilted the balance in your favour?

OnePlus 6 brought in a flawless experience, which you can feel each time you use the device. We have been around for a few years but our users already feel that with any OnePlus phone you just can’t go wrong. 

Most of us consider OnePlus an online brand but the company is also investing in offline channels…

From brand perspective, online will continue to be the primary channel but from user-experience perspective — and when it comes to increasing brand awareness beyond the core audience — offline will be an important driver. This year we are looking at opening 14 offline stores in top cities where we already have a sizeable presence. And the idea behind these stores is to reach out to those who are not using OnePlus phones. 

Now that you are number one, what do you have to do to stay there?

We will stay focused on what we have been doing. If you look at our strategy, not much has changed in the last four years, that is, we are still offering one product a year and we are still focussed on the premium segment. What we like to do is double down on these efforts to deepen the bond we have with our community. In terms of change, offline expansion is an area we are looking at… it’s an investment towards our future. Second, we will expand our network of exclusive service centres because the way our user base is growing, we need to have a substantial service infrastructure and we want to do this in-house, instead of relying on third party. We will also set up our R&D facility in India and we will look at everything that needs to be done to become even more successful in the Indian market.

Aditi Rao Hydari and Amitabh Bachchan take a selfie during the India launch of OnePlus 6 on May 17

So more service centres?

We already have 12 exclusive service centres that are live and we are looking to open another 13 service centres by the end of the year. These centres will be richer in terms of experience and design. 

What makes you different from your competition in the segment (like Asus ZenFone 5Z)?

First, the efficient business model, that is, one product a year. Our competition works on multiple product lines... it’s difficult to do justice to every product line. Second, we have a strong alignment with Amazon, and even our offline expansion will not affect the relationship. Lastly, our product will always be our hero. 

To grow, you need to rope in students. Are you doing that?

Recently we started the Student Ambassador Programme, which targets users in the 18 to 23 age group. Students in different colleges and in different cities can work with OnePlus throughout the year. We can support their campus requirements, like help them organise different workshops or different events. They can help us create awareness in their respective circles. This is one big focus for us.

Finally, where does Calcutta feature in your plans?

Calcutta is one of the most promising cities for us. We have just opened a store in Calcutta (South City Mall). For us, it’s a big untapped opportunity. With the offline store, we will have a better understanding, which will help us decide the steps that follow.