ZTE CORPORATION IS A GLOBAL MAJOR IN TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY AND IS AMONG THE TOP FIVE MOBILE HANDSET MANUFACTURERS IN ITS HOME COUNTRY CHINA AND HAS ALSO BEEN DOING REALLY WELL IN USA. NUBIA IS ALSO A SUBSIDIARY BRAND OF ZTE. IN INDIA, ZTE HAS BEEN STRIVING HARD TO REPLICATE ITS SUCCESS IN OTHER GEOGRAPHIES. TO STRENGTHEN ITS EFFORTS, ZTE BROUGHT IN THE SEASONED TELECOM PROFESSIONAL SACHIN BATRA AS CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER OF ZTE INDIALAST AUGUST. IN AN INTERACTION WITH NIJHUM RUDRA & VANSHIKA MALHOTRA, MR BATRA EXPLAINS THE STRATEGY AND EFFORTS BEING PUT IN BY ZTE TO INCREASE ITS MARKET SHARE AND MINDSHARE IN THE LARGE BUT HIGHLY COMPETITIVE INDIAN MOBILE HANDSET SPACE.
You took over as the CMO in August 2016 and it’s been a year now. Are you satisfied with ZTE performance after taking over?
Since I joined in the year 2016, we launched our first product on Flipkart, which was the Blade A2 Plus. This was followed by a couple of launches into offline space where we never had a presence and is doing exceptionally well for us. At least, this can be deemed as something satisfactory since I joined.
What have been ZTE’s recent market strategies/initiatives to increase its reach and sales in the Indian market place?
Currently, we are not spending anything on the marketing because first of all we are a technology brand, capable of providing right technology at right price. For example, when we launched the Blade A2 Plus in February this year, with a 5.5-inch full HD Octro processor MediaTek processor, 4GB+ 32GB, 5000mAh battery with fingerprint and Uni metal body, there was no product at a price point of Rs 11,999. It was not we got the deception to the pricing; we gave the customer the product at right price. So, whatever marketing we wanted to spend we reduced the price of the product and gave to the customers. The tie when smartphone was not available below Rs 16,000, we at that time gave a product at Rs 12,000. This is what exactly I am talking about. So we don’t have a marketing strategy in place currently, having said that we will not have it. We will certainly have a complete plan in terms of marketing, but we will do it in a right way not the way the competitors are doing it today.
ZTE is basically into entry level smart phones. Do you think, with LTE enabled feature phones being bundled with Jio and other service providers planning to replicate the same, the entry level smartphone segment could come under serious pressure or do you see it as an opportunity for the consumers to upgrade to smart devices in double quick time?
Firstly, we are not into entry level smartphones. So, we have two main series, namely, the Blade series and the Axon series. The Blade series starts from affordable to affordable premium, and if we talk about the price point, it starts from Rs 7,000 and goes up to Rs 19,000. Secondly, the Axon series is more into the premium segment which is a flagship product for ZTE. So it will not dent us anywhere in getting a feature phone enabled with LTE devices and we would like to stick to the affordable to affordable premium category. And this is what exactly our future products are all about.
“We have two main series – the Blade series is affordable to affordable premium and Axon series more into the premium segment which is a flagship product for ZTE”
While the sister brand Nubia appears to have created a fair mindshare, ZTE may not be up there. Your view please!
Globally, our focus was mainly on B2B category which is why you haven’t seen much of ZTE in India. Since Nubia was a sub brand of ZTE only, so we were focusing on consumer space. Nubia was as a B2B business for us so that’s the reason you have seen more of Nubia and not ZTE there. Now by this year or in the beginning of 2018, you will see more of ZTE products in India.
“Nubia was as a B2B business for us so that’s the reason you have seen more of Nubia and not ZTE there. Now by this year or in the beginning of 2018, you will see more of ZTE products in India”
Your biggest competitors are your own Chinese brands and they are spending humungous amount on visibility and brand promotion – committing 100s of crores for high profile properties/celebrities association. So where do you figure in this fiercely high stake game? Do you plan any celebrity associations?
Our exact strategy for 2017 has been very clear; we plan to launch our products at the right price point with no involvement of any marketing spends. We will certainly bank upon media or our PR partners who will help to reach out to the end users to understand ZTE as a complete brand. Having said that, 2018 will be the year when we start developing our marketing strategies to have more presence in India because then we will have a complete product portfolio for which marketing will be required. No, we don’t plan on any celebrity association.
“We plan to launch our products at the right price point with no involvement of any marketing spends”
Which are the states where you are doing quite well?
Since we don’t have much of presence in India, therefore it is inappropriate to consider states as a different entity. We have done some soft launches in North India and have started in West India. We have closed our distribution for PAN India and need to feed them with the devices when they are back to the markets. So our strategy is to focus on more of an offline as well as online, which will kind of be exclusive.
Please tell us more about your distributions channels – any preference i.e offline or online? Is there any exclusive partner for online distribution?
There is no preference because it all depends on with which partner we form our alliance which can deliver speediest and profitable outputs for which we are forming our marketing strategies as well.
What innovation plans ZTE has for India? Do you plan to be a part of the government initiatives such as ‘Make in India’ and ‘Smart Cities’?
Yes 100% and the good part is that ZTE has been in India since 1999 one of the oldest Chinese companies, if I have to put it in simple terms. So we are already aligned with multiple projects with government of India. So we will always be a part of all kinds of initiatives taken by the government. Make in India would only happen once we have sustainable volumes to talk about. Just by minimal numbers can’t do Make in India that is already in discussion, we are serious about it and once we see a sustainable business coming in we certainly will see Make In India coming.
Since phone devices is just another division of massive ZTE Corporation, are you planning to introduce other products/services of ZTE Corp in India or are you already doing it? Please enlighten.
If it’s not available in India it’s not available globally as well. ZTE has got one in terms of technology filing our patents; ZTE is a leader in it. In 5G technology, ZTE has the filed the largest amount of patents compared to every other smartphone brands. We have already showcased our devices in MWC Barcelona recently in February 2017. And we are ahead in terms of technology. Our slogan earlier was “Tomorrow never waits “now our slogan is “Leading 5G innovations” so we are talking about 5G now. So tomorrow the moment the technology is in we are ready devices with available.