The brand Coolpad is back in the picture once again – although it was not out of scene – with the recent launch of Cool 3 Plus smartphone in India. The Chinese handset maker is very ambitious about the India market as it aims to sell 3 million units by the end of this year. The company now wants to make it big in the imminent 5G era as it claims to have more than 800 patents in the name of this technology. Recently-appointed Coolpad India CEO Fisher Yuan shares his insights about the mission and vision of the company, in a conversation with Ramesh Kumar Raja. Excerpts:
What made you launch a smartphone (Coolpad Cool 3 Plus) in India after a hiatus of nearly one and a half years?
Coolpad has launched multiple smartphones in the India market in the last one and a half years. This includes 4 SKUs in the Mega series and one in the Cool series which was launched in January 2019. Before that, we launched a Paytm-exclusive smartphone in the Note series in October 2018. In fact, we have launched around 6-7 smartphones in the past one and a half years. However, due to a lack of media events, it might seem like we have not been around. The truth is that we have been innovating and launching best-in-class products for our customers in India and plan to continue doing so in the future as well.
From innovation to the emergence of new players such as Realme in the Indian market, a lot seems to have changed in the said period. How are you going to fill this gap and re-position the brand Coolpad in India?
Coolpad was the first brand to launch a premium smartphone in the below 10K segment in India. When the Indian market shifted from 3G to 4G in 2014, we leveraged this opportunity to our maximum advantage. Now that the market is gearing up towards the introduction of 5G technology, we are constantly innovating to capture that opportunity as well. We already have more than 800 patents in the name of 5G technology and will launch the first 5G phone in China by the end of 2019.
We plan to replicate this feat and launch the 1st 5G phone in India soon. This will undoubtedly help us gain our desired market share.
What will be your strategic roadmap for optimum market penetration, as Coolpad is further strengthening its presence in India?
Our target by the end of 2019 is to sell 3 million units. Of this, we have already achieved one million sales in the last 6 months. To capture the maximum market share, we will continue to focus on the INR 6K-10K segment. We will also continue to augment our key features such as the Dewdrop display, massive storage and battery, and premium security features like fingerprint and face unlock.
With the best combination of features and specifications, along with attractive prices, we will be launching 6 new smartphones by the end of July 2019. We are also planning to establish 20,000 retail stores in the country by the end of 2019.
What is the market share you are aiming to achieve in the next couple of years?
We are targeting a 3% market share by 2020. To achieve this, we will continue to launch premium smartphones with best-in-class features and attractive prices.
|“The Indian smartphone market is significantly large and diversified. The online market share currently stands at 36% while the offline market is at a massive 64%. Thus, being accessible across all touchpoints is always a challenge in this market. As a result of the segmentation, marketing and manpower investment is very high”|
Since you have a broad experience in the China market, what are the challenges you view in India which is comparatively new to you?
The Indian smartphone market is significantly large and diversified. The online market share currently stands at 36% while the offline market is at a massive 64%. Thus, being accessible across all touchpoints is always a challenge in this market. As a result of the segmentation, marketing and manpower investment is very high.
Further, India is the most competitive market in the world. Customer expectations in terms of prices and technology are constantly evolving. Thus, we need to work hard to offer the best smartphone experience at the most attractive prices.
Coolpad mostly plays into the budget and mid segments. Do you have any plan to break this trend and come up with a premium product?
In 2017, we launched the Coolpad Max priced at INR 24,999. We also launched the Note 5 priced at INR 10,999 which was a premium smartphone with 4GB RAM and 4000mAh battery. We sold 2 million units of this. Thus, we do experiment outside of the budget segment from time to time.
However, keeping in mind the market trends in India, we plan to remain in the INR 7-10K segment for the next year. We do plan to launch a smartphone in the premium segment by the end of 2020.
Online or offline – which one is going to be your priority now?
Since 64% of the customers exist in the offline market, we do tend to focus on this segment. However, we are also focused on the online market which is growing steadily.
As the government continues to push the ‘Digital India’ movement, a major chunk of smartphone users will shift to online platforms. We are foreseeing the offline/online divide blurring as a result of this shift.
Therefore, we will aim to strike a balance between the two markets and achieve growth across all touchpoints.
Handset-telco bundling has emerged as the next big thing in India. Do you have any plan to leverage this trend?
We are in talks with Jio and in the coming years, we will have a bundled offer from operators for sure.
What efforts you are taking to build the recall value of the brand?
To build the recall value of the brand, we are taking a 360-degree marketing approach. We are leveraging digital marketing to reach the online audience in an effective manner. Since a major chunk of our audience is presently offline, we are also investing in offline marketing. This will include OOH marketing, local print ads, stock merchandising, etc.
In the next 6 months, we will also be launching a TVC campaign to reach out to a wider audience across the nation.
After sales service remains an issue for the majority of phone makers. What is Coolpad’s approach to it?
Coolpad offers holistic after-sales support to its customers. We have over 500 service centers across the country. As we are an extremely customer centric brand, we offer a no-questions asked 7-day replacement policy to our users. They can visit one of our service centers to get a quick replacement if they are not happy with the product.
We also leverage social media, email and call centers to offer alternate support channels to our valued customers. In rare cases, if a problem cannot be solved through any of these channels, we put a service professional in touch with the customer to get the issue resolved.