COMIO has left no stone unturned to be among the first choices for the Tier 2 and Tier 3 buyers across the country in the mid-segment budget category. Last year, the company started its operations in India and has now become a brand with good recall value among the customers through its social media campaigns, film promotions and catchy punchlines. Haider Ali Khan interacted with Sanjay Kalirona, CEO and Director, COMIO smartphones who is leading COMIO to newer heights with his vast experience of mobile industry. Excerpts:
COMIO has completely changed its instance and has become aggressive in Tier 2 and Tier 3 towns and cities. What kind of response are you getting from the distributors and the buyers?
Right from day one, we had a very clear strategy of reaching out to the youth in Tier II and III cities. We began by launching our smartphones in North and West India and have now recently become a Pan-India brand with the launch in South & East markets. We are proud to be a mid-segment budget smartphone brand that enables people to live their lives to the fullest, packed with a great camera, design, memory and battery life.
The response we have received from our distributors and end consumers has been overwhelming and hence we have managed to launch 7 smartphones models ever since our launch. As per the recent GfK report, in Himachal Pradesh, the brand ranks three (in the ?5k-8k range) with 12 percent market share, while in Uttarakhand and Madhya Pradesh it enjoys a 6 per cent market share in the ?8,000-10,000-price range. Few markets where COMIO sees good traction include Faridabad, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Kanpur, Ahmedabad and Bhopal.
What were the lessons learned during your visit to other parts of the country as a mobile maker?
It was a great experience for us, the response was very welcoming. The demand from non-metro markets is growing at a rapid pace and therefore it is imperative for all brands to make their products available there. For us especially they are on the top of the priority list and we hope to foray into more emerging cities this year.
COMIO has unveiled its first dual-lens smartphone X1 Note? What does it hold for the buyers?
The COMIO X1 Note is definitely going to win the hearts of COMIO loyalists and first-time buyers as it comes with stylish design, dual camera, and full screen FHD all in under 10K. Competitively priced at Rs 9,999, the X1 Note boasts of flawless slim ID design with a stylish mirror finish back cover in two colour variants- royal blue and sunrise gold. The device has a dual rear camera with 13MP + 5MP AF with Flash and front camera with 8MP. A photographer’s delight, the handset comes bundled with a set of camera modes like portrait/ bokeh, beauty, panorama, social and night mode. Designed to enjoy high definition to the fullest, the smartphone comes with a 6-inch full view FHD+ 2.5D curved display. The 4G-VoLTE dual SIM smartphone is powered by a 1.45GHz quad-core processor and has a 2,900 mAh battery.
What are the key attributes on which the team COMIO is working on its smartphones to provide a value for money device?
Since the beginning, COMIO has been very cautious of designing smartphones that offer value to the consumer. All our smartphones cater to the growing needs of our target audience with features such as big display, dual camera, latest android version, photography Bokeh Mode, Mirror finish glass, etc.
How do you position yourself among the other Chinese players? What kind of extra ounce do you have to offer to your potential buyers?
We are proud to be a Chinese smartphone player and bring with us an excellence and legacy in manufacturing. In an attempt to offer better value and stand out from the other players we are offering a very special after-sales service as COMIO Support that includes 30-day DOA, a special buyback and upgrade offer allowing you to upgrade your old smartphone. The COMIO upgrade offer, allows you an assured 40% return on your old COMIO phone (Not more than 12 months old) which will be given if you want to upgrade your existing COMIO phone. Additionally, the smartphones come with a free one-time screen replacement warranty within six months of purchase to supplement the one-year + 100 days’ extra manufacturer warranty. COMIO Smartphones has partnered with Reliance Jio to provide unbeatable packages and cashback offers for the youth.
What are your thoughts on the increased PCB rate of 10 percent? How will that affect a homegrown company like COMIO?
At COMIO we strive to maintain price equilibrium and offer the highest quality products to our consumers within the mid-segment smartphone category. The increase in custom duty on PCBs further encourages us to move towards local assembling of PCBs and eventually manufacturing as well. Overall the agenda of the government is to dial up Make-in-India within our category and we fully support them in this initiative.
“The increase in custom duty on PCBs further encourages us to move towards local assembling of PCBs and eventually manufacturing as well”
Is this your current model of offline sales and distribution worked for you or do you wish to change it later?
Our differentiated offline strategy for sales and distribution has worked well for the brand in gaining a foothold in India’s hyper-competitive smartphone market. We are focusing on a network of small offline retail stores in towns and non-metro cities to sell its smartphones. Currently, the brand has a network of more than 20,000 retailers and 400 distributors across 650 towns and is planning to expand it to around 35,000 retailers and 700 distributors across more than 1,300 towns in India in coming months.
What else COMIO has in its pipeline for 2018?
2018 has been and will continue to be a landmark year for us as we have grown into a Pan-India brand. This year will see the brand expand on many frontiers- new smartphone launches, our first television commercial, the announcement of our own manufacturing facility. There is a lot to look forward to this year.
What’s the stage of your planned manufacturing unit in India?
COMIO as a brand is committed to Make-in-India, within few months from our India launch we started local assembling of our smartphones through local partner V-Sun. We plan to set up our own manufacturing facility this financial year.
What will be your strategy to engage more audiences in future with the brand COMIO?
Since we are now a Pan-India brand, we will engage with an even larger audience base through on-ground marketing efforts at consumer, retail and trade levels. We will also continue to create attractive content on digital platforms under our umbrella campaign- Don’t Listen Kar Daal.