China-based Oppo, the fourth largest smartphone maker in the world, is on a tremendous run, more than doubling production through 2016 and posting the fastest growth of the world’s top five smartphone vendors during Q1 2017.
The vendor shipped 25.6 million units in the opening quarter and had a 7.4 per cent global market share, up from 5.9 per cent a year earlier, according to IDC. Oppo’s growth in Q1 was stronger outside of China with nearly a quarter of shipments from international markets.
Oppo, which joined the GSMA in April, entered the mobile phone market in 2008 and quickly expanded its handset business to 28 countries. Mobile World Live recently spoke with Jimmy Yi, sales director of Oppo’s international mobile business (pictured), about its recent growth, expansion strategy and plans for the future.
What have been the key reasons for your growth?
Oppo’s success in the past year is due to our efforts to make the brand strong, as well as emphasising manufacturing premium quality mobile phones. We focus on core consumer needs, which we define as mobile photography, battery/charge efficiency and the exterior design.
In addition, we design, manufacture and market our own products to ensure consumers always receive the best.
The trend in China for consumers to upgrade their handsets over the past few years has offered Oppo great opportunities. Unlike the past, consumers now care far beyond the price, and focus more on quality, technological innovations and design.
What are your targets for 2017?
This market will always offer space for competitive brands, even during times when the market starts to shrink. Although we are now ranked higher globally, internally we are told to keep calm. As Oppo has never been a brand that stresses figures like market shares, we believe that if we do everything right, profit will follow naturally.
What are your most important markets and where do you plan to expand this year?
Of course, China is the most important one. In terms of overseas markets, our current focus is on Southeast Asia and India. We will explore new market opportunities in a slow but steady pace, while most of our time and resources will be spent gaining a strong presence in our existing key markets.
What about outside of Asia, what are your focus areas?
We’ve already opened a marketing office in Cairo to boost the sales in the Middle East and Africa region, including Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, Kenya and UAE.
We’ve also entered markets such as Australia and New Zealand to accumulate the experience needed for future expansion into operator dominated markets in Europe and the US.
On the marketing front, will you continue to push selfie-optimised features?
Oppo started to promote the “selfie expert” F-series in early 2016 and successfully drove a selfie trend in the smartphone industry. According to Counterpoint’s Q1 report, selfie-centric phones grew nine-fold annually in India. This year Oppo will continue to lead the selfie trend by redefining group selfies in Southeast Asia and India with the newly launched F3 and F3 Plus.
Whether to promote rear cameras or promote selfie-optimised front cameras is related tightly with local consumer demand. It is possible in the coming years, Oppo will promote rear cameras in more overseas markets as well.
With your rapid growth, what are your biggest challenges?
With our fast expansion worldwide, we are feeling an urgent need to enhance cross-culture understanding, to understand local consumers well, and to satisfy their needs better.
For this we now typically have three ways to collect consumer insights: partner with professional research agencies, collect customer feedback from all points of sales and send product/marketing teams for field visits.
For talent acquisition we are trying to localise our teams in every market. For example in India, 99 per cent of our staff are local employees.