This article is part of Spotlight China's latest series focusing on Chinese brands going overseas. read more

In the "2022 BrandZ™ China Top 50 Global Brands" jointly released by Google and Kantar this year, a new brand entered the list: the mobile phone brand realme, which was established only 4 years ago.

"The mobile phone industry is dead", this argument does not seem to work for realme.

The development speed of realme can be described as "prairie fire". According to Xu Qi, vice president and global marketing president of realme, in the initial stage of entrepreneurship, the realme Indonesia team only had 8 people, and the India team had only 7 people, and almost all of them were born in the 90s. The team recruited in various local markets and grew rapidly, but soon encountered a global epidemic. This is undoubtedly a fatal blow to the nascent brand. However, realme not only gritted its teeth and persevered, the Philippine team also took advantage of online channels to overtake other cars and became the number one in the local market share. The fan activities around the country were well organized, and now, it has broken into the top 50 global brands in China...

Under such a trend of "barbaric growth", realme obviously has an exclusive know-how. During Morketing Global's interview with Xu Qi, he repeatedly mentioned realme's "leapfrogging" culture and the unchanging original intention of creating a "tech trendy brand" for young people around the world. Behind this, realme's product strategy, consumer insights, promotion methods, market research, etc. in the global market are the real hard power.

  1. Localization know-how: "The product is the origin of everything"
  2. Focus on fan culture, realme's 4 consumer insight methods
  3. Mobile phone industry down? realme points out 5 major opportunities in the global market

The following is the transcript of the conversation, edited by Morketing Global:

1. Localization know-how: "The product is the origin of everything"

Morketing Global: What do you think is the key to running a mobile phone brand overseas?

Xu Qi: First of all, we must respect the local market and do a good job of localization. Brands going overseas need to understand the needs of the local population, the characteristics of local channels, and even some policies that the local country needs to abide by, etc., before operating in this market. Therefore, the first step for realme to enter every market is localization. We will quickly build a local team and jointly create with local core channels. The key point is that the realme brand adopts a consistent general strategy globally, such as the brand positioning of "tech trendy brand", but it will make fine-tuning of the strategy in different countries to better adapt to different markets. For example, the trend culture we pay more attention to in China is "national fashion", while in Southeast Asia, it is more inclined to "fashion".

Second, the product is the origin of everything . We must launch products in different countries that can really arouse the enthusiasm of the local market and make public opinion boil, so as to build the core competitiveness of the brand. In the current era, it is necessary to have a product force that can break the situation in order to take root in the mobile phone industry.

Morketing Global: How does realme cultivate its core competitiveness in the global market?

Xu Qi: First of all, from the establishment of the realme brand, our positioning is to serve young consumers and position realme as a trendy technology brand. We hope to create products with "leapfrog performance" and "trend design" for young consumers, which are also our two core characteristics, and this determination has never wavered. And this kind of firmness is the reason why realme can achieve rapid development without taking too many detours.

First, "leapfrog performance" is the main reason for realme's rapid breakthrough in the mobile phone market in the past four years. We will make a lot of research and development investment and thinking in advance on the product, and bring you products that are surprising, valuable, and not boring. To give two examples: First, in the first half of this year, realme released the "Realme GT Neo3" in the Chinese market. The flash charging technology equipped with it has achieved the world's leading technology. Before this, the industry has never put 150W flash charging mobile phone products into mass production. With the blessing of 150W flash charging, it only takes about 12 minutes to fully charge a mobile phone, which greatly improves the efficiency and convenience of charging for everyone. Before this technology landed, we studied for a very long time. Second, we launched the "Hidden Shoulder Button" for the world's first launch on the "True Self GT2 Master Exploration Edition", which can not only satisfy the exquisite appearance design of the mobile phone, retain the overall visual effect, but also better fit the needs of game lovers. Functional Requirements.

Especially when breaking through key markets, realme will create a new "leapfrog technical point" on the first local product, so as to achieve a breakthrough. For example, the first product released in the Indian market is the first ultra-large memory mobile phone in the price range of 1,000 yuan. Because the user's storage demand is very strong, realme brought the 128G large memory to the price range of 1,000 yuan for the first time. At that time, it aroused great market attention. Another example is realme. The first product released in the Chinese market is realme X, which brought the then-popular elevating camera to the price range of 1,500 yuan (the previous elevating camera was all above 3,000 yuan), and experienced it at a reasonable price. The cutting-edge technology has aroused widespread attention from young users and student groups.

Second, "trend design", realme has been making continuous efforts. I believe you can also feel that many realme products are in the early stage of release, and the unique design will become a focus of discussion among consumers and the media. On the one hand, we established the design agency realme Design Studio, which is a very important internal design team and will continue to study trends and culture. On the other hand, we have also successfully created realme's IP - "Master Design", collecting top fashion designers from all walks of life around the world to co-create product industrial design with us. For example, the "Onion White Garlic" released in cooperation with Naoto Fukasawa adopts the unconscious design concept; the true self GT2 master exploration version cooperates with Jae Jung, an international top fashion designer, to jointly create a "hard box · wilderness" design. In addition, we continue to cooperate with trendy IPs, such as Dragon Ball, Naruto, "National Treasure", etc., giving the market a great sense of surprise. The effect of these unprecedented and interesting designs in the mobile phone industry is that realme users continue to feel that the product design is more interesting, fun, attitude, and thoughtful.

Morketing Global: You have also shared before that in the early days of its business, realme achieved overseas success through the "asset-light model". How does the asset-light model specifically help realme?

Xu Qi: First of all, realme's sales links in various markets are relatively simple and fast. For example, realme quickly entered the market through the Internet in many countries. We will set the product price more reasonably, so as to attract the attention of consumers and spread word of mouth.

Secondly, the entire decision-making chain within realme is very fast . After all, we are an entrepreneurial team. When the realme team sees opportunities and needs at the market end of various countries, the realme team will quickly respond to the company's global headquarters and even the supply chain end, and quickly adjust and optimize products according to market demand. In this case, our products and communication methods are more likely to win the support of young users.

Furthermore, realme is also more flexible on the market channel side. In terms of joint co-creation, no matter in terms of channels or brand creativity, realme dares to try to break the rules, instead of developing the market step by step and very cautiously.

2. Focus on fan culture, realme's 4 consumer insight methods

Morketing Global: How does realme complete its insights into consumer groups around the world, so as to make good products? What are the unique methods of consumer insight?

Xu Qi: Many sources of realme's insights about young consumers are feedback from fans, because we pay great attention to fan culture. Our philosophy is to "mutually develop" with fans, because realme's core fans are between 18 and 25 years old, know products very well, are curious about many new things, and express their needs very accurately, which is what drives realme to continue to improve and the key to growth. Therefore, in social media, communities, and offline fan meetings, we will invest a lot of energy and manpower to communicate and interact with fans: our R&D team, product team, and marketing team will communicate frequently with you on social media and communities ;Organize several fan activities every year to communicate and communicate with fans face to face. On the other hand, we also want to create value for users. We often hold global design competitions, photography competitions, talent shows, etc., to spread the works of outstanding young students around the world and let them be seen by the world.

At the same time, we will also collect feedback from partners, including marketing and sales channels. For example, we will discuss with Google the characteristics, preferences, and preferences of user groups, so as to help realme further make products and marketing methods that are more suitable for users. Moreover, we have also launched very close cooperation with local channels in the global market to analyze the lack of product competitiveness and user attractiveness. In the process of communicating with offline partners, I learned about consumer purchase decisions, views on realme, and so on.

Third, from the Internet. We will pay special attention to all users' comments and suggestions on realme.

Fourth, a professional research team. realme has a professional user research and analysis team that conducts quantitative and qualitative research from time to time to understand the demands and changing trends of young consumers.

Morketing Global: In terms of brand promotion, what is the difference between overseas and domestic?

Xu Qi: The market environment at home and abroad is different, and the preferences of consumers are also different.

But I think that no matter whether it is domestic or foreign promotion, two points are inseparable: first, whether the promotion can really touch the interests and hobbies of the core consumer groups. Looking around the world, we often hold some fan activities, such as rock music festivals in India, music events in Southeast Asia, camping activities in China, talk shows, e-sports competitions... These activities are more in line with the preferences of young people , it is easier to play with them. Second, whether the promotion can grasp the core media channels and co-create some key activities, so as to better cover the core groups with publicity points. We have long-term close cooperation with Google overseas, and we are also focusing on conquering short video marketing channels such as Douyin and Xiaohongshu in the domestic market.

Morketing Global: Faced with many platforms with different characteristics in overseas markets, how should mobile phone brands choose to go overseas?

Xu Qi: First of all, we must understand which platform can quickly empower the brand in the local market. For example, realme chose Google as an important strategic partner, because Google is a data-based platform engine, and we can obtain more information and better understand the local market after in-depth integration with Google; and we can create many marketing methods with Google, quickly Reach users, convert users, and bring surprises to consumers.

At the same time, when choosing an online channel platform, it is necessary to first understand the local consumption habits and which channel the crowd will have a greater effect on. For example, the first channel that realme developed in the Indian market was the online channel, not the offline channel, because the realme brand itself is aimed at young people, and it can arouse heated discussions and discussions on the Internet in terms of parameters and configurations. The stickiness to e-commerce is higher, and the e-commerce path is shorter, which can reach users faster.

Morketing Global: How does realme use Google to carry out overseas marketing work? Is there any specific case to share?

Xu Qi: We have always maintained a very close cooperation with Google. As a global search engine, Google is one of the essential platforms to help Chinese brands go overseas. Especially like our start-up companies, Google played a very important role as a booster in the early days of going overseas.

First of all, through Google, we can quickly and accurately understand the status and opportunities of the local market, and tap deeper needs, so as to better carry out localization, formulate local strategies, technologies, and so on.

Of course, Google also provides a lot of ways to play. For example, our overseas e-commerce product line realme Narzo series recently made a new advertising promotion attempt with Google, exploring more efficient traffic channels, including Performance Max and YouTube Shorts, etc., and finally saw the crowd There has been a good improvement in reach and conversion. We also often discuss and formulate some micro-conversion solutions with Google, and constantly optimize the conversion link of realme, such as Realme GT Neo3. After trying Google's micro-conversion solution in the Southeast Asian market, the overall conversion improvement is very obvious.

3. The mobile phone industry is going down? realme points out 5 major opportunities in the global market

Morketing Global: What do you think are the challenges facing smartphones going overseas? How did realme make a breakthrough?

Xu Qi: The first challenge is cultural differences. Rapid integration into the local market is very critical for Chinese overseas companies. Based on this, we believe that localization is an important booster to accelerate overseas deployment and help companies win the hearts of local consumers in the shortest possible time. trust. The difficulty realme faced when it was first established was how to quickly enter the Southeast Asian and Indian markets with a small team. When we launched the Indian market, we had a small team of 7 people, basically born in the 1990s. After entering the market, we quickly recruited localization teams locally, and worked with the local e-commerce platform Flipkart to discuss products, understand local consumer needs, and jointly tackle the local market. ; In the Indonesian market, at the beginning, a team of 8 people built a localization team to cultivate the market. So I think localization is a relatively big challenge for going overseas, and it is also an opportunity.

The second challenge is the epidemic, which happened in the second year of our business. For a new brand, a good market environment is very important, but the global epidemic broke out in the second year of realme's establishment, and the company was under great pressure. At this time, realme's brand spirit of "dare to leapfrog" has played a very important role. When recruiting the team, many young people who were passionate and dreamed about the future joined us. They did not shrink back under the global epidemic, but settled down to let the start-up team of realme grow against the trend. Moreover, each team of realme is very brave to break the situation. In the year when the local epidemic just broke out, the Philippine team overtook on a corner and became the number one in the market. At that time, the Philippine market was almost at a standstill. The general manager of realme Philippines saw the sudden rise of live broadcasting in China, and quickly opened up market awareness through live broadcasting, allowing realme's share to rise rapidly.

The third challenge lies in the supply chain. In recent years, the upstream supply of the mobile phone industry has been unstable, which is a common challenge faced by Chinese overseas brands. For mobile phone brands going overseas, it has been an important proposition in recent years to predict market trends, manage the preparations for the upstream supply chain, and keep the company healthy.

Morketing Global: With the intensification of challenges in overseas markets, will some overseas mobile phone companies face some difficulties if they want to replicate domestic successful experiences in overseas markets?

Xu Qi: As far as the mobile phone industry is concerned, the competitiveness of Chinese companies is still very strong from the perspective of the global market. Among the top 7 global mobile phone brands, Chinese brands occupy 4-5. Based on this phenomenon, I think that many Chinese mobile phone brand models, including realme, have achieved very high recognition in the global market. Although realme adopts a strategy of overseas first and then domestic, we still believe that in terms of global strategy and model, as long as the general direction is consistent, the local market will not encounter too many problems.

Morketing Global: The domestic market first and the overseas market first are two completely different development methods for the mobile phone industry. Which one do you think is better?
Xu Qi: These are two different paths. There is no absolute advantage or disadvantage. It depends on how the enterprise develops.

Taking realme as an example, we choose foreign markets first. The first reason is that the founder of the brand understands foreign markets very well and sees huge opportunities and potentials. A protracted battle. Enterprises must have strategic patience and continuous investment in the Chinese market, but this is very stressful for start-ups. On the contrary, overseas markets such as India and Southeast Asia have low penetration rates of mobile phones, insufficient competition, and large populations, which can make realme very fast. Set up camp in the ground.

The companies that chose to do business in the Chinese market first seized the dividend period of the Chinese market at that time. Many excellent mobile phone predecessors in the market now have seized many opportunities in the competitive landscape of the Chinese market in the past few years, so that the Chinese market base has become a strong backing for overseas markets and feeds back the expansion of overseas markets. Moreover, the advantage of choosing the Chinese market first is that it can have a certain radiation and warm-up effect on other markets. This is because the Chinese mobile phone market is a high ground for global brands. When a mobile phone brand releases a new product in China, many overseas media will pay attention.

Morketing Global: Some mobile phone companies have actually encountered a wave of order cuts. In this regard, while maintaining the existing market, what countermeasures and prospects does realme have in the future?

Xu Qi: First of all, focusing on these existing markets, we will implement a high-quality strategy, which is to make the entire product line move towards high-quality products. When the entire market is relatively saturated, machine sea tactics are not suitable. Flooding the market through the number of models is very likely to cause an oversupply in the market and lead to a corporate crisis. Therefore, in the future, realme will first shrink its product line and focus more on some single hot products, so that every product launched on the market can become a high-quality hot product . Of course, this requires us to have precise customer group positioning and clearer product function points to generate attractiveness.

Second, realme will no longer allocate additional resources to develop new markets, and will concentrate the company's resources on some markets that need to be cultivated. At present, realme has entered the top five in some target deep-cultivation markets, and the next goal is to achieve the top three and even hit TOP1. The company will invest personnel, capital and R&D resources in these key strategic markets.

In general, I think the implementation of high-quality strategy and deep cultivation plan is more suitable for the current market environment. At the same time, I think that mobile phones are still a rigid need in daily life. Although the general environment of the mobile phone market will fluctuate greatly in the past one or two years, in the long run, I am still very optimistic about the mobile phone category. Lifting is also very confident.

Morketing Global: In your opinion, what other overseas markets are worth exploring in the mobile phone industry?

Xu Qi: First, looking around, there are still many high-quality markets in the world. The 5G penetration rate in the Chinese market is very high, but 5G mobile phones in many overseas markets are still in their infancy, and a large number of users are still using 4G mobile phones, and 5G popularization is an inevitable trend. Therefore, when overseas users replace their phones with 5G, it will attract a very large wave of replacements, and there are many opportunities. Not only that, but there are still great opportunities for the switch from functional phones to smart phones: when realme first entered the Indian market, more than 30% of consumers were still using functional phones with keyboards, which shows that the market is huge ,has potential.

Second, there are still some markets in the world with insufficient competition. For example, there are not many mobile phone brands in the Latin American market, which is relatively closed. So I think the Latin American market is a huge opportunity point, and good products should enter the local market through appropriate channels.

Third, mature markets can still see some valuable opportunities. In the past two years, mobile phone technology has continued to innovate and develop. For example, the charging technology has grown from a maximum of 65W two years ago to 150W or even 200W now, and the charging time has been shortened from half an hour to more than ten minutes; The rise of mobile phones has continuously promoted consumption upgrades... These technological innovations will change people's living habits, gradually generate strong user stickiness, and increase users' demand for replacement phones.

Fourth, consumers' recognition of brand culture. Next, there will still be a large number of users who will continue to become fans of different brands. For example, the current brand awareness of realme in the Chinese market is only about 40%, and as young consumers know more about and love realme, the brand’s market share still has a lot of room for improvement, which will attract opportunities for replacement.

Fifth, in the longer term, new technologies after 5G, and even changes in the shape of mobile phones brought about by new technologies, will also lead to a wave of new phone replacements.