How Indian brands aim high with rivals dominating the mainstream market

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | FRANCIS D'SA
Published Dec 15, 2018, 1:47 pm IST
Updated Dec 15, 2018, 3:43 pm IST
More and more Chinese tech giants entering the Indian continent citing better sales and higher profits.
With more and more Chinese tech giants entering the Indian continent citing better sales and higher profits, Indian smartphone manufacturers are slowly being pushed aside for want of better quality products and after sales.
 With more and more Chinese tech giants entering the Indian continent citing better sales and higher profits, Indian smartphone manufacturers are slowly being pushed aside for want of better quality products and after sales.

India has seen a multiple fold growth in the technology sector, especially with the immense popularity of the smartphone. Additional boost from telecom companies, especially Jio, which has slashed call and data rates to the bare minimum, has made smartphone manufacturers happier than before and today we see the smartphone in almost every Indian hand, be it the rich or poor. Internet availability is now available deeper within rural India and we are seeing a thin line, soon disappearing between the rural and urban landscape.

With more and more Chinese tech giants entering the Indian continent citing better sales and higher profits, Indian smartphone manufacturers are slowly being pushed aside for want of better quality products and after sales. However, Indian smartphone manufacturers don’t see themselves giving up any soon. With smartphones being sold by well-known Chinese brands, Indian manufacturers are now citing possibilities to grow in the accessories market.

 

Such is a case with Agaston Mobile, which recently ventured into the Indian market with Tambo, a smartphone brand. The company had stated an investment of Rs 600 crore out of which the company would be spending Rs 300 crore for setting up its own factory in Greater Noida in the third quarter.

Tambo, a brand by Agaston Mobile, with a joint venture with Chinese ODM, planned affordable smartphones and feature phones for the masses across India. And to increase revenue, mark the Make in India project and upscale employment in India, Sudhir Kumar, Founder & CEO for Tambo Mobile, stated that they would soon be implementing PCB manufacturing in India. The company is targeting to be among the top three players in India in the entry-level segment, and the following year, and Amyo will cater to the accessories market, including battery, charger and earphones in India.

On distribution front, the company has also adopted a direct distribution model, aiming for direct distributors above 1 lakh in every town. Tambo has pronounced to sell products offline and will not be present online. The company is also looking to foray into air conditioners after establishing the Tambo brand in India.

Later, Agaston Mobile Pvt. Ltd. announced the launch of its accessory brand, AMYO. This will be a portfolio of mobile accessories such as high-quality earphones, power cables, power adaptor, Bluetooth devices, power banks, smart devices, and more, ranging from Rs 199 to Rs 3, 999 initially.

We spoke to Sudhir Kumar, CEO, and Founder of Agaston Pvt. Ltd. For both Tambo Mobiles and AMYO, to know what are the plans for the company and how the he plans to overtake its existing rivals.

Deccan Chronicle: Amyo, the accessory sub-brand of Agaston had been launched in November’18. What are the plans of its expansion in 2019 and what is the expected turnover for the next year.

Sudhir Kumar: Amyo carries a portfolio of mobile accessories like high-quality earphones, power cables, power adaptor, Bluetooth devices, power banks, smart devices, etc in the price range of Rs. 199 to Rs.3, 999. The company is eyeing revenue of Rs 100 crore in the first 12 months. We aim to achieve the same by penetrating the budget accessories segment for a complete user experience with our brand that is stylish, innovative and built to last. For deeper penetration, we are exploring and reaching out to the Tier- II, III, IV and V markets. The aim is to be present in every district and every taluka, with the support of our distribution network.

DC: Has 2018 been a welcoming year for the home-grown mobile phone brands?

Kumar: The market is seeing a turbulent phase as of now. The overall smartphone growth has been low when compared to the year-on-year increase since the last 2 years. Like every year, though, the market has seen mobile phone brands entering and exiting the market in 2018. Despite that, brands with strategies that appeal to the masses, are efficient in their business processes have seen acceptance and will maintain the growth path. The market has been very accepting towards the new innovations in product, across all segments. Once these brands had settled and penetrated in the market, the third quarter saw a 1.4% increase in smartphones sold when compared to the same time, last year. We launched Tambo Mobiles in the second quarter and GOME Mobiles entered in the last quarter and both have been very well accepted in the market.

DC: Are there any plans of venturing into the premium segment?

Kumar: Tambo will stick to being the budget segment of phones that can be accessible and affordable to all. We aim to continuously advance the future line-up of products with the latest technology at a pocket-friendly price. Tambo will remain under Rs 6,000 and with GOME we will have phones in the range of Rs 6,000- to Rs 12,000.

DC: The players like Nokia re-entering the budget phone segment and the brands like Xiaomi are launching budget phones every quarter. How is the home-grown brand like Tambo handling the situation? What are the plans for 2019?

Kumar: The giant players, with their massive presence in markets and big marketing budgets find it easier to educate the masses and create a customer base. The customer then moves the market and chooses an option according to his budget. It is important to then maintain the presence across all markets and areas to turn the potential buyer. In a way, it has been working well for Tambo. Tambo has been reaching out to Tier- II, III, IV and V markets with a different strategy. We do not have great spends, but whatever we spend, we do it efficiently and smartly. We have our people in all areas of India assessing and covering each and every corner of the country. They are not only our spokes but also our spokespeople who create a buzz about the brand.  Then we have also seen tremendous support from the trade and our partners. Tambo aims to continuously engage in R&D and produce affordable mobile phones which have a longer product cycle. We aim to provide complete mobile phone experience to the customers, during and after sales.

DC: Budget smartphones still take the larger proportion of smartphones sale in India. While companies have started offering premium features like face recognition and decent cameras in smartphones below Rs 8,000, what are the Tambo’s plans to stay at par with technology?

Kumar: Our products are packed with the latest features and have been designed keeping ‘ease of using phone’, with features like face unlock, and full view, 60-day battery standby, 22 Language support among others. Our R&D team is continuously experimenting with latest technologies and they come out with the products that are most suitable for the customer. The suitability is assessed and driven by the insights provided by our teams. We believe that the consumer is only satisfied if the entire cycle of engagement with a brand delights him/her. Other than continuing to be at par with customer satisfaction, the product is the king and we aim to keep developing phones with advanced technology in an affordable price range.

Brands like Tambo and Amyo are not the only ones that are probably threatened by the Chinese tech giants who are investing heavily in India. There are many other home-grown companies, not only in the smartphone and accessories segment, but also into the IoT space, who are facing the heat. With leverage from the government and the Make in India project, and with investments from funds, we hope that one day we may see Indian companies venturing out into China and the other parts of the world with technology products that read with pride “Made in India.”

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