When the pandemic forced people indoors, smartphones became their window to the world, helping them stay in touch with friends and family, attend online schools and colleges, and even learn new recipes. As people adopted hybrid business models, indulged in web series, rotated and scrolled through countless “Reels” for entertainment, the demand for smartphones increased dramatically.
Industry forecasts show that demand from emerging markets and the usual smartphone replacement cycle will drive sales to 1.39 billion units in 2022, an annual growth of 3.8%. Of these, 660 million will be 5G-enabled mobile handsets, or 47.5% of all devices.
ET BrandEquity, in association with PredictiVu, recently hosted a session on “Decoding the Indian Smartphone Industry in the New Normal”, to understand how the smartphone industry has been impacted by the new world order brought in by the pandemic and the subsequent behavioral changes in consumers. The session focused on how these brands can gather data and derive insights from it to deliver an exceptional brand experience.
The session included industry leaders such as Rajesh Kurup, Strategic Advisory Board Member, PredictiVu; Raghu Reddy, Commercial Director, Xiaomi, India; Raghav Chitra, Marketing Manager, POCO India and Lloyd Mathias, Angel Investor and Business Strategist. The session was moderated by Satrajit Sen, Head, Product, and Community, ET BrandEquity.
Mathias started the discussion by sharing the major changes that have taken place due to the pandemic. There has been increased confidence in the use of technology. From one-click online payments, education, healthcare to government services, consumers are getting used to online facilities that are likely to remain even after the pandemic. “Smartphones play a vital role in this as they are the primary device when it comes to education, entertainment or e-commerce,” Mathias added.
A good majority of people prefer smartphones over laptops and desktops, whether for online courses, entertainment, shopping, etc. Due to the increased usage, the demand for powerful devices started to increase. Reddy shared that consumers now want devices with powerful processors, faster charging, better displays and good speakers to help them get their daily work done efficiently. “In the Rs 20-30k mobile phone market, which is the premium segment, growth doubled in 2021 compared to 2020,” Reddy said.
POCO is an online-only brand whose target audience is 18-25 years old, also known as Gen-Z. This generation has never known a world without the internet and is the most digitally dependent generation. To connect with this generation, brands need to have a strong digital presence, Chitra mentioned.
With all business moving to the digital medium, the increased online presence leaves behind huge data footprints. Today, brands generate data from multiple channels and multiple touchpoints in the consumer journey – from retailers, consumers, transactional data, passive app data and many more. Kurup explained that PredictiVu can help brands deploy several tools to make sense of this data and learn from it. He added that without developing actionable insights from their datasets, brands will not be able to connect and resonate with their audience and build a brand that reaches their audience at the right time.
“With AI-powered topic modeling, agencies like PredictiVu can gain more nuanced data that will help brands accurately call out specific topics,” Kurup said.
Reddy shared that a big challenge brands across all verticals faced during the pandemic time was connecting with their audience. He added that brands need to change their strategies to reach their consumers. Sharing a page from his own playbook, Reddy mentioned that Xiaomi started doing digital launches and online fan meetings to launch their new products and gather feedback from their consumers. He also said that even their retailers are embracing the digital medium to start conversations about new products.
Chitra again underlined the importance for today’s brands to establish a strong social media presence. He shared that social media and influencers play a huge role in establishing a brand persona. Establishing a brand personality isn’t just about putting sales-oriented content, it’s about entertaining and educating your audience and showcasing your personality to stand out in the mind of the consumer. “We engage through fun and quirky content. And it’s delivered in a very ironic way because that’s how our customers communicate with each other as well,” Chitra said.
Mobile manufacturers need to look at different consumer groups based on their age and mobile needs to better understand and satisfy them. “Collecting credible and accurate consumer data and enriching organizations’ own data will help businesses create a single customer view,” Kurup said.
The session ended with all panelists agreeing that in the new normal, consumer choices have changed. Consumers now want better UX and fast TAT service due to growing addiction to our mobile phones.