Chinese smartphone maker OPPO follows a “simple and focused” strategy when it comes to marketing and advertising in India, according to its local brand director – but this approach has entailed significant investment which has yet to yield any profit.

“[W]e are completely focused towards leveraging our resources and energies to create unforgettable experiences for our consumers, especially the youth, across markets and cities,” Will Yang told Brand Equity.

“Whether it’s tier I, tier II or III markets, the core of our strategy remains the same, only the touchpoints vary to connect and engage better with consumers.”

He highlighted the concept of benfen – doing the right thing – as guiding the company’s strategy around the world.

“We believe the right thing we should do is to provide our consumers the best product that really caters to consumers’ demands,” Yang explained. “For example, we found that Indian consumers like hanging out with friends at night and capturing moments at night are a challenge” – so OPPO’s latest product launch addresses this.

The route to reaching these consumers has involved major investment in Bollywood brand ambassadors and sponsorship of the national cricket team – “the idea is to connect and offer experiences that go beyond the product experience,” said Yang – as well as building out a retail network across the country.

But such a strategy is expensive: OPPO paid Rs 10.8bn for a five year sponsorship deal with the India cricket team, for example, and the Business Standard recently reported that the company is planning to borrow Rs 35bn (US$ 500m) “to support business operations and expansion”.

While this approach has quadrupled its share of a rapidly growing smartphone market, it has also resulted in net losses growing from Rs 0.42bn to Rs 3.58bn; it may also have been a factor in the recent departure of Yi Wang, managing director of OPPO Mobiles India.

But Yang maintained that “it is sustainable [since] we partner with people that share the same mindset as us and their values and ideas resonate with our brand, as their followers or fans will only then resonate with our brand.”

Sourced from Brand Equity, Business Standard; additional content by WARC staff