Offline retail – through traditional stores – is preferred by 70 per cent of Indian smartphone customers, who favour the “touch and feel” available over the convenience of online sales, according to research from IDC.
To address the offline channel, China-based vendors including Oppo and Gionee are investing to improve brand awareness and availability in smaller towns and cities. This is important as “tier 1” cities begin to saturate, and demand comes from smaller urban and rural areas.
While some such companies have focused on their online activities in other markets, the increasing focus on offline shows “vendors have understood to address the needs of a diverse Indian consumer base, offline must go hand in hand with the online channel”, the research company stated.
Two-in-five consumers also depend on in-shop promotions and retailers to decide preference for a brand, the research revealed.
However, the online channel is also “very competitive”, because devices contribute a large portion of sales for e-commerce players. Investments by Amazon and Flipkart to improve user experience, reduce delivery time and enter exclusive alliances with smartphone vendors “clearly show that online players are making serious efforts to gain consumer trust”, IDC said.
The $100 to $200 segment is the most crowded, with “high decibel marketing and promotions” by vendors in this portion of the market including Samsung, Xiaomi, Lenovo, Oppo and Vivo. Interestingly, while customers having previously spent less than $100 are moving up into the higher price band, there is also traffic in the other direction, as customers look for high-specs at affordable price points.
Growing availability of 4G services in India, led by Reliance Jio, is “compelling customers across city tiers to be future ready”, by choosing more 4G than 3G devices.