Micromax is already leading the mobile market with its innovations in the hardware, services and manufacturing space. In line with the developments, Micromax continued its pursuit to offer products and services for the Indian consumer reinforcing our commitment to democratize technology for the masses. In an interaction with Mobility magazine, Rajesh Agarwal, Co-Founder, Micromax Informatics, shares their company’s philosophy, strategies and plans in relation to the highly competitive and rapidly changing Indian smartphone space.
What are the current trends in mobile industry in India and where Micromax stands in the race?
Smartphones today are at the center stage of everything starting from IoT to wearable technology; and have become a playground for brands to come forward and showcase their imaginative prowess. Everything that a user wants will be and can be controlled through these smartphones. A rapidly growing mobile trend at present is the 4G adoption in the country.
Our market research suggests that an average Indian spends over 3.5 hrs on the smartphone and consumes about 4-5GB data every month, across age groups; 55% of this time is spent online, multi-tasking across various applications. The increasing usage of social networking, messaging apps, entertainment and video apps, games and browsing derive the growing demand of faster Internet speed and seamless connectivity, and hence the focus is on 4G handsets. Currently, we are focusing on the ‘Massification of 4G’, and are hoping to make this upgraded technology accessible to the Indian consumers, and therefore 50% of smartphones that we will launch in this fiscal year will be 4G devices. We hope to further boost 4G-adoption in the country by making a full range of 4G-enabled smartphones available to users across disruptive price points.
From the hardware standpoint, 2016 will be the year of large screens and videos. With the wide availability data network, content, personalization and hardware in place, a smartphone will become a more preferred source for video consumption.
Another significant trend that continues to be growth driver of this segment is the feature phone to smartphone transition especially by the first time users with entry level smartphone being made more accessible with a fantastic price to features ratio. With 60% of the user base still on feature phones, the expectation is that close to 70-80 million feature phone consumers will switch to affordable smartphones and the industry will definitely see more action making 2016 the year of smartphone.
We have been the front runners motivating consumers to shift not only from feature phones to smartphones but also leapfrog directly to 4G through our innovative & affordable offerings.
Could you describe your journey to make the Micromax brand as 10th largest mobile phone player in the world?
Micromax started as an IT software company in 2000, entered the mobile handset business by 2008. Micromax is the brain child of Rahul Sharma, Vikas Jain, Sumeet Arora and me. Our venture into the mobile handset industry in 2008 led to the inception of Micromax Informatics Limited.
Micromax entered the Indian handset market at a time when global players such as Nokia, Samsung etc, were dominating this segment. The challenge that lied ahead of us was to create mindshare in an already cluttered market and reach out to the mass consumers who wished to own a mobility device to make their life simpler but were not able to due to the price constraints. The brand needed to build trust relationship amongst the consumers about our products and innovations. In order to achieve this, the company adopted the utilitarian philosophy to cater to all fragments of the society, with equal zeal and enthusiasm and came up with products which they can relate to in their everyday lives.
We pioneered the democratization of technology for masses by offering affordable innovations through our product offerings and removing barriers for large scale adoption of advanced technologies. This has been at the core of Micromax, and the guiding force for all our innovations.
And so, our innovative pricing and fantastic price to specs ratio, also helped us achieve reasonable degree of success. Through our constant emphasis on adapting to the changing market dynamics, introducing feature-rich phones and smartphones that are innovative and unique, Micromax has today become a force to reckon with.
Today mobile industry is going through a lot of changes in terms of acceptability, marketing spends and demands of the customers. On this front, what’s the stand of Micromax?
You have aptly put it and it is true that we are living in a world today where consumer’s needs and acceptability are changing rapidly and so are the marketing strategies of the smartphone players. Customers today prefer relevant innovation over a complex and generic one. So we focus on creating categories of products for various segment of people, be it youth or women, etc rather than concentrating on a particular genre. We believe in expression of individuality. We have always been the first brand to offer innovative products – Canvas Selfie Range for the Selfie Aficionados, Canvas Fantubalet – Smartphone with World’s largest screen for the users who love to stream videos on the go.
At Micromax, our focus has been to get the relevant technological innovations at a disruptive price points to further help us gain an edge over the competitors. We always kept our ears to the ground to understand the needs and demand of consumers and have offered mobility devices that could fulfill these. With an in-depth understanding of rapidly changing consumer preferences coupled with the use of advanced technologies and correct pricing Micromax has been able to differentiate itself through innovation and design. Constant innovation and listening to our consumers paves way for sustaining product relevance.
Are you continuously progressing towards achieving your targets?\
Yes, we are the number 1 brand in the smartphone market in the sub Rs 7.5k category in India with 30% market share in the segment. We are growing robustly in volume in all our product categories, led by smartphones which account for almost 60% of our portfolio. We are gaining significantly versus the industry average, hence we’re seeing a growth in market share as well. In the television category as well we are in the top 4 players with a market share of 10%. In the tablet segment also, we have a robust portfolio and a market share of 12%. We have come a long way in the last 7 years and now we intend to make it to the list of world’s top 5 global handset brands. A couple of years ago, we explored newer markets such as Russia, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka and have successfully consolidated our operations in these countries. To further expand our scope of growth, we are now looking towards exploring new markets.
What are the key challenges you are facing in a competitive market like the Indian?
Indian smartphone market is very volatile with the influx of many Chinese smartphone players in the market. While the competition is very fierce, we believe that the market will consolidate and only those players who understand the pulse of the young hyper social Indian consumers will keep going this year.
Also, with the roll out of 4G late last year, we will see more 2G users to skip 3G and move to 4G directly. Hence one of the major tasks this year is going to be to get more users to switch on to the 4G smartphones.
Which mobile brands would you count among the potential survivors?
While there going to be fierce competition, we see that the market will surely consolidate in 2016, and will see a number of players, like low standard Chinese players and new entrants, who are not committed to the Indian consumer demands either exiting the market or changing their strategies. Most of them are still struggling to understand the root level needs of the Indian consumers. While global players launch products based on their global experience and productlines, we at Micromax design product portfolio customized according to the needs of the Indian market.
What are your future plans?
Entering a new phase, our focus is going to be on providing solutions to the consumers using their phones. Going forward, a large chunk of our efforts will be concentrated on coming up with products and services which act as solutions to the needs of the fast-evolving consumers. At Micromax, our strong emphasis would be to continue to drive innovations in hardware but also add a lot of a value through software and services that will power our devices eco-system. We will be aiming to develop products & services which not only enhance & upgrade the life of the consumers but also empower them with the latest technological innovations becoming an extension of their lifestyle.