Lenovo : We are Targeting 5-8% Smartphone Market Share in India in the Next 2 Years [Interview]

Lenovo which entered the already crowded Indian smartphone market a few months back has big aims for its business in India. With just 6 members in the business team in India, the company is looking to quickly ramp up its distribution and service centers here. It wants to make after sales service easily accessible to more people by bring it closer to them. The Chinese smartphone maker is hoping to sell 1 million smartphones in the country this financial year.MWC-Lenovo

Here is NextBigWhat interview with Lenovo India marketing team on the strategy and plans ahead.. Edited excerpts:

NextBigWhat: Lenovo re-entered the smartphone market only recently. Can you tell us how it has been so far?

We are not really that late entering the market as the smartphone segment is still young. The biggest surprise for us was that when we entered the market we thought low-cost phones would do better than the high end phones, but the phones are doing consistent at all price points. Even the K900 which is priced at 30,000 and may not be as expensive as other flagships which cost above Rs 40,000, is doing very well. The first batch is almost sold out and more will be put into distribution soon.

While we did not have large format retailers when we started off, they have now come on board. We are continuing to improve the visibility of our product in stores. In terms of growth, every month is better than the previous month.

NextBigWhat: How have retailers and consumers taken to Lenovo Phones?

Consumers care [about] what you give them. While the brand is important the product is always the hero. So if you have a good offering people will give you a chance.

In June, people did not know that Lenovo had phone but that is easing out a bit now. We are right now concentrating our efforts on the 21 big towns of India. The smaller towns will still take some time.

NextBigWhat: What about after sales service?

No matter how good your phone is you need a good set of service centers. We are concentrating on that factor and right now have 112 service centers in 50-60 cities all over India. In larger cities we are trying the increase the number of service centers because it makes no sense to travel 60km to and fro to get a phone repaired. We want to have 200 service centers by the end of this financial year. Building the network of service is high priority for us. We start of our team meeting every week with a service update before we proceed to other stuff.

NextBigWhat: What is your plan for the upcoming festive season?

We are expecting this quarter to be exceptional with about 10-11 million smartphones sold by the industry.

We are focusing on getting the distribution right so that people can buy a Lenovo smartphone wherever and whenever they want to. We don’t believe that customers are looking for freebies. We also don’t believe in discounts but will do thing to ease the entry points for customers and offer them good value for the phones they are buying.

NextBigWhat: What is your relationship between Lenovo and app developers in India?

While we don’t have a plan in place at present, we will see how many developers are buying into the brand after 3-4 months and formulate a strategy around that then. A couple of thresholds need to be passed before we are that stage.

Lenovo has opened up an online store “theDostore”. Could you tell us about the strategy behind that?

People who buy offline will continue to do so, but for people that shop online brands should give them an option to pick up the phone officially. Just like people visit multiple brick and mortar stores before purchasing something, the same behavior continues online. People are buying online not necessary because things are cheaper but because of the convenience. According to IDC 3,00,000 people purchases phones last quarter online and that number is likely to grow.

NextBigWhat: Where does Lenovo see itself 2 years from now?

Worldwide we hope to be in the top two when it comes to connected smart devices like phone, tablets and PCs . In India, we hope to have 5-8% market share in two years. We want to sell a million units this year in India, which should give us about 3-5.5% market share in India. We are not testing the waters. We are in it for good.

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