MUMBAI: Oppo, the Chinese smartphone maker, aims to establish dominance in India by emulating the flash-sales tactics that helped its rival Xiaomi knock Korean giant Samsung out of the top spot.

Oppo is planning its first flash sale early next week (2 April) with a view to clawing back market share from Xiaomi, which has pioneered short-term tactics in building scale, according to the South China Morning Post, via Reuters.

At the launch of the company’s F7 phone in Mumbai, Will Yang, brand director at Oppo India, told Reuters that “we are learning from other brands”, with regard to Xiaomi’s pursuit of Indian consumers on popular platforms such as Amazon and the home-grown e-commerce player Flipkart.

Flash sales have proved an effective way to launch new devices and create buzz by putting limited stock on e-commerce sites, constituting a change of strategy for Oppo, which sees the bulk of its sales come through physical retail stores, both owned and partner-run.

“As the majority of the market is run by these two platforms,” Yang added, referring to Amazon and Flipkart, “we’re looking for partnerships”, although he declined to be drawn further.

Competition in India, a young and dynamic electronics market, is notoriously tough. With companies competing on price, the battle weighs largely on margins. However, Oppo’s regional divisions are important in this struggle, as each designs products for its own market.

Xiaomi’s own success came three years after its entry to India, in January 2018, when it pulled level with Samsung in its second largest market outside China.  

While the success competitors are looking to replicate is Xiaomi’s online game, it suggests that a focus on offline has been key. Speaking to Reuters, Managing Director of Xiaomi India, Manu Kumar Jain said, “if you look at 2017 and 2018 combined, the biggest change in our strategy is our focus on offline”. Online revenue still accounts for 70% of local revenue, however.

Smartphone brands have approached the Indian market with vigour, especially around cricket. Oppo, notably, bagged the premier spot on the Indian national team’s jersey. Vivo, another Chinese smartphone brand, retained the sponsorship rights for the Indian Premier League which begins next month, paying 267% premium over the base price.

Sourced from South China Morning Post, Reuters, Economic Times; additional content by WARC staff