NEW DELHI: Not only are Chinese phone brands squeezing out Indian ones in the marketplace, they are also grabbing a major chunk of the high-profile marketing opportunities in Indian sport.

In the latest development, Oppo has replaced broadcaster Star India as the team sponsor for the Indian cricket team, in a five-year deal that begins next month. Oppo also signed up all-rounder Yurav Singh as a brand ambassador last year.

At the start of this year, rival Gionee snapped up the national team's new captain Virat Kohli as a brand ambassador. Kohli, reported to be the highest paid cricketer in the world, currently endorses a total of 17 brands. Gionee also sponsors Kolkata Knight Riders, two-time winners of the India Premier League (IPL).

Vivo, meanwhile, seized the chance to become the tournament sponsor for the IPL in late 2015 when PepsiCo ended its contract two years early.

The investment in cricket is part of a marketing approach that includes high-spec product offerings at low prices.

CXO Today noted that the latter has been enabled by the R&D and manufacturing facilities these brands have built back in China, along with access to component suppliers; "cost reduction has become a huge advantage for Chinese manufacturers," it said.

Recent research from Hong Kong-based Counterpoint Research indicated that Chinese brands took more than half (51%) of the Indian smartphone market in November 2016, as the share of Indian brands halved over the course of the year.

Observing this volatility, Counterpart research analyst Karn Chauhan expected that Samsung would come under greater pressure from Chinese brands during 2017, as their combined market share reaches 60%.

Samsung and Apple are vying for leadership of the premium end of the smartphone market, where Samsung's ambitions took a hit in late 2016, when it was forced to issue a global recall for its Galaxy Note 7 before the product could even be launched in India.

Data sourced from The Hindu, Economic Times, CXO Today, Daily Sportek; additional content by Warc staff