NEW DELHI: Smartphones are becoming a marketing tool for some retailers and manufacturers in India, who see them as a way of pulling upgrading Indian consumers into their orbit.

Panasonic, for example, intends to launch no less than 28 smartphones this year, as the Japanese consumer tech firm not only seeks to crack this market, but to cross-sell its entire range of consumer durables through its 250 exclusive retail counters.

“We are not running after market share,” Pankaj Rana, Business Head Mobility Division at Panasonic India, told the Economic Times. “We are working on strengthening our brand presence and delivering quality products to customers.”

The business also hopes to pull in Rs 2,000 crore in revenue from the smartphone business – a 43% increase on 2016 – much of which is expected to come from tier 2 and 3 cities in states like Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and West Bengal.

Such locations are also proving fruitful for Amazon India, which has seen smartphone sales in lower tier cities grow significantly faster than the market overall.

According to Arun Srinivasan, category leader of consumer electronics at the e-commerce giant, sales of smartphones have doubled in the past year, but in tier 2 cities they have jumped 460% while in tier 3 cities the figure is 600%.

Smartphones are now among the top three product categories on Amazon India, he told Gadgets 360, and the smartphone category is one of its top sources for new customer acquisition.

“A customer who purchases a smartphone today may not buy another smartphone for many months, but that customer is now engaged with Amazon,” he said.

“As long as we have given them good value on the smartphone, and they had a good experience, they are likely to repeat and buy multiple products.”

In the longer term, Amazon could revive the idea of selling its own branded smartphones in order to tie consumers even more closely to its ecosystem. It was reported to be planning to launch at least one such product launch for India this year.

Data sourced from Economic Times, Gadgets 360; additional content by WARC staff