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India is a critical market for Vivo and we’ll open over 100 more exclusive stores within the next one year: Nipun Marya, Vivo India
Nipun Marya, Director Brand strategy, Vivo India
Vivo is serious about its expansion plans in India and hopes to increase its store count to 600 within a year

India is a critical market for Vivo and we’ll open over 100 more exclusive stores within the next one year: Nipun Marya, Vivo India

Vivo is serious about its expansion plans in India and hopes to increase its store count to 600 within a year
  • India is a critical market for Vivo which plans to open around 600 stores in the next one year.
  • It is also soon coming up with a design center in the country which will also design smartphones in the country.
  • Nipun Marya, Director Brand strategy, vivo India tells us about how the brand is expanding its presence in India and making sure it gives its consumers the best experience.
2020 has been a year when technology played a huge role in our lives. It helped us keep ourselves sane while living under a lockdown. It therefore became a year when smartphone almost became a lifeline for many of us.

From consuming to creating content on our phones to even children attending virtual classes, our smartphones became a way of keeping us connected with the world.

It is therefore not surprising when surveys told us that the smartphone market in India bounced back after the slump during the lockdown period. Data from Canalys showed that smartphone shipments in India recovered in Q3 2020, with a growth of 8% to 50 million units. The report revealed this was an all-time record for smartphone shipments in a single quarter in India.

This year, after the worsening of relations between India and China, vivo pulled out of the Indian Premier League 2020 title sponsorship. However, this minor blip did not really lead to a decrease in the brand’s popularity. Nipun Marya, Director Brand strategy, vivo India tells us that the brand has seen a good bounce-back and has seen an increase of 25% during the festive season this year. The Canalys report also revealed that Vivo stood third in terms of smartphone shipments in India, growing 19% to ship 8.8 million smartphones.

We spoke to Marya about the year gone by and brand’s growth strategy for the coming year.

The impact of 2020

Despite it being a difficult year, the smartphone maker saw a good resurgence in demand in the unlock phase. The fact that smartphones became such an intrinsic parts of our life has helped the segment bounce back.

Speaking about how the year has been so far, Marya said, “While we’re still not completely out of the pandemic situation, there’s encouraging news coming in of the vaccine and things have slowly started looking brighter. The good thing about the smartphone industry is that it has helped a lot of people, whether it was for entertainment or being connected with our friends and family, or working and in some cases, even education. Smartphones have really come to everyone’s rescue and helped us maintain our sanity during thes tough times. We are seeing that the industry has seen a reasonably good recovery when it comes to sales. And we are seeing good growth, about 25% over last year during the festive season.”

However, considering the first few months were a complete lockdown, the brand has had to recalibrate its sales target this year. Speaking about how the industry has been performing, he said, “Overall at an industry level for the calendar year, I think there’ll be single digit de-growth this year. I don't think we’ll be able to match the 2019 levels, forget about growing. Accordingly, we’ve also readjusted our targets. So let’s see how November and December fair, because post December, we will get a clearer picture.”

Vivo’s India story

Vivo had entered India's smartphone market in 2012 with the launch the Vivo X1. Since then, Vivo has seen good growth in the country. It currently has a manufacturing facility in Greater Noida which employs around 10,000 people and has the capacity to produce over 3 crore smartphones annually.

Marya also shared that whatever the brand is currently selling in India is made in India. “As far as smartphones are concerned, whatever we’re selling in India is being manufactured here. There’s nothing that we’re importing as finished good and selling in the market, he shared. On whether the brand has plans of further expanding its manufacturing capability in the country, Marya said, “Right now, our manufacturing unit is sufficient but going ahead, if more expansion is needed, we’ll certainly invest and expand more. We are very clear that we will continue to expand our mass manufacturing footprint here but we also don't want to be in a situation where we have excess capacity lying unutilized,” he added.

Expanding offline presence

At the start of the year, before the pandemic hit the market, the brand had plans of aggressively expanding its offline presence in India. However, despite the lockdown impacting some of its plans, the brand is still serious about setting up shop.

For Vivo, offline is a very important channel, a bulk of our sales come from offline. We are also very clear that when it comes to offline, there is both quantity and quality of experience which consumers look forward to. Exclusive and experience stores really provide a differentiated brand experience. We are still very much looking forward to opening up more exclusive stores in the coming few months.”

On how many stores they plan to open up in the next few months, Marya shared, “Currently we have around 450 stores. We are planning to open up more than hundred exclusive stores within the next 1 year.”

Vivo’s marketing and its next phase of growth

Vivo came out with its Diwali campaign recently which was all about spreading the message of joy and hope. The brand also launched a new product and promoted it aggressively. It also bought ad spots during the IPL. On whether its increased its spends this year, Marya said, “I won’t be able to comment whether we’ve increased or decreased our spends. But, like last year, this year too we have been aggressive in terms of marketing. We've done our spots in IPL which is a fairly expensive property. Therefore, whatever is required, as far as the business is concerned, we’ve gone full hog and supported the business and the brand.”

Marya is also confident that like most other sectors, the next wave of growth for the brand will come from smaller cities. “Whatever sector you talk about, non-metros are leading growth and that's also true in the case of Vivo. Metros still remain in absolute terms the largest market, but in terms of growth percentage, it is certainly coming from non metros and that remains true for us,” he said.

So will the brand look at expanding its offline presence in smaller towns? “Where we will open our next stores will depend on the business and market requirement. Till date, the 450 stores we’ve opened have been in both metros and non-metros,” he shared.

For Vivo, in the global scheme of things, India continues to be a critical market and Marya shares that the brand will continue investing in the country to make sure it gives its consumers the best experience. In fact, it plans to set-up an industrial design centre in India to not only develop devices locally but also design the phones in the country. “We are manufacturing all our phones here but after the centre comes up, we will also design the phones in India. Its an extremely important market for the brand and how importantly we take the market can very well be seen from the kind of investments we have done here so far,” said Marya.