Hyderabad-based Mivi has carved a niche for itself in the consumer tech segment with its truly made in India products which are conceptualised, designed and manufactured in the country. The company has been very aggressive with its product launches of late, establishing itself as one of the fastest-growing homegrown players in the audio category. Midhula Devabhaktuni, co-founder and CMO, Mivi, shares more about the brand, its success story and product portfolio, in a conversation with Ramesh Kumar Raja. Excerpts:
How has the brand Mivi positioned itself in a hyper-competitive market like India, which already has a number of players in the mobile accessories segment?
Every other thing we see in the market is either made in China or tailored for western countries. Besides this, we frequently observe that these products are relabeled and sold in India. As a result, at Mivi, we focus on self-engineering and manufacturing all of our audio products in India. This gives us a distinct advantage in creating personalized, high-tech, feature-rich products that Indian clients require and enjoy. And our Made in India initiative helps us thrive in the hyper-competitive market and distinguishes us from the competitors.
You offer a wide range of products such as earphones, Bluetooth speakers, chargers, power banks, data cables and other digital accessories. Which among them is a dominant vertical for Mivi?
Yes, we offer a variety of products, but Mivi is a one-of-a-kind brand that specializes in audio (earbuds and speakers), which have gone from a luxury to a necessity for everybody with a smartphone. Furthermore, this year we will be entering the home audio and wearable segment.
|“We offer a variety of products, but Mivi is a one-of-a-kind brand that specializes in audio (earbuds and speakers), which have gone from a luxury to a necessity for everybody with a smartphone. Furthermore, this year we will be entering the home audio and wearable segment”|
Is it the age of TWS now, and where it’s going? What factors are driving its growth?
TWS has been the fastest-growing category in audio over the past two years. Because of the form factor, weight, and technological advancement, it is the most coveted audio accessory at present. With a lot of people working from home, focusing on fitness, taking online classes, the need has been booming so much so that TWS, which was deemed non-essential during the initial lockdown in 2020 was later added to the essentials segment. Furthermore, with the product’s price going down, it became more affordable, transforming it from a luxury item to a necessity. So, it is right to say that we are now living in the TWS era. In addition, according to International Data Corporation (IDC), shipments in India’s Truly Wireless Stereo (TWS) market rose 74.7% year over year in 2021, reaching a new high of 20.3 million units. And it will continue to gain traction.
How are your products gaining traction in the market, especially in the aftermath of the COVID-19 outbreak? Which are the areas from where maximum demand is coming for the Mivi products in India?
We have been working on setting up manufacturing in India since 2018 and were almost set to open our factory in 2020 March. That’s when the pandemic hit. Though the factory opening got delayed, it gave us a lot of time to focus more on R&D and develop several products. By December 2020, we launched our first Made in India product Roam 2. It was a success even beyond our imagination. People loved that a product of such good spec and quality was being produced right here in India. From that day on, every product we’ve launched has been made in India and our customers have been rewarding us for it. In April, we will also be launching the first Made in India soundbar. We are so proud that we have set up manufacturing here with zero Chinese or external engineers and are today providing employment to more than 700+ people. Our audience has been our fondest cheerleaders and we have seen a 2.5X growth last year.
Online or offline – which platform yields maximum revenue for Mivi?
Mivi has been purely an online brand for almost 5 years after we started. In 2018, we were at this crucial junction when we had to decide whether to go offline like all the online brands in our category were doing or lay our own path and set up manufacturing. We decided to fulfill our dream and take the harder route. After successfully becoming the first brand in this category to set up manufacturing in India and produce its own products, now we’ve started to venture offline. By the end of 2022, we expect offline to contribute to 15-20% of our revenues.
What do you do to increase the recall value of your brand?
We focus on product. Many brands have amazingly superb marketing campaigns and most of their time and money goes into that. Our priority is product and quality. We strongly believe that once a customer sees the quality of our product and is happy with it, he keeps coming back to us. We become his go-to electronics brand. We do have strong marketing plans and campaigns in place. But that can only get you the customer the first time. If you want recall and a repeat customer, you can only achieve that by making the customer happy.
What is your approach to the “after sales service”, which remains an issue for the majority of electronics companies?
Firstly our defect rate is way below the category average. We are able to achieve this as we control the product end to end. Even when there is a small issue, we are able to immediately make improvements. But still, electronics is a category where some amount of defects are inevitable. We offer a 1-year manufacturing warranty on all our products. And if a customer is facing any issue, we pick up, repair, and send the product back at no cost to the customer. We are working on opening more service centers across the country, so this process can be much faster.
There is a parallel grey market in India thriving on counterfeit accessories and devices. How do you deal with them?
Because we own the IP of our products, and also as our sales are primarily coming from e-commerce today, we aren’t facing the counterfeit issue much.
|“We Indians have our own set of requirements, tastes, and interests, especially in the case of audio. So, before we begin designing any product, we first identify what the Indian consumers need and what is currently lacking in the market’s offerings. After that, we custom-design our products to cater to those preferences and needs”|
Can you please tell us about your outreach and investment plans for India?
We’re currently branching out into various product categories, beginning with soundbars. Following that, this year, we intend to join the wearables category. In addition, we are developing innovative technologies to complement our existing portfolio. Besides this, we’re diversifying our market presence from primarily online to establishing a robust offline foothold to get closer to our customers, understand their needs, and give a consistent customer experience. Moreover, we currently have a 700+ strong team and are looking to expand our presence in PAN India – from tier 1 and tier 4 cities.
We are now constructing an all-new 10L square feet factory in Hyderabad. With this new facility, we will increase our manufacturing ten-fold. We will generate employment for 3000+ people. We will be investing in another factory in phase 2 which is currently in the planning phase. We are evaluating different cities on what is an ideal location for this expansion.
Please throw some light on R&D and innovation at Mivi?
We Indians have our own set of requirements, tastes, and interests, especially in the case of audio. So, before we begin designing any product, we first identify what the Indian consumers need and what is currently lacking in the market’s offerings. After that, we custom-design our products to cater to those preferences and needs.
Furthermore, all our products are engineered and manufactured at our Hyderabad manufacturing plant which gives us control over the quality of the product. We have a strong R&D team that is working on multiple verticals along with audio. The research and development today is happening in Home entertainment, IoT, mobile phones, and more. You will continue seeing some amazing products from Mivi over the next few years.