With the significant growth of the technology industry and the demand for smartphones, India has proven to be one of the most important markets for major tech companies. OPPO, being one of them, continues to bolster its efforts to grow in India, which is considered the second largest smartphone market in the world after China.
As another great year comes to an end, some companies are going to strengthen their base and efforts to grow. International Business Times, India, had a chance to chat up with OPPO's VP, MD of International Mobile Business & President of OPPO India Sky Li on a series of topics, including the company's plans for India, marketing strategies and the secret behind the success of its product line.
Below are the edited excerpts from our interview with Li.
IBTimes, India: How does OPPO ensure superior quality of products in its smartphones?
Sky Li: For OPPO, product is of extreme importance. We believe that product is the best marketing, meanwhile the good quality is consumers' basic demand and the dignity of every product. We believe the superior quality comes from two key points: 1. Meticulous product design; 2. Stringent quality control from material to test and then mass production
In design process, through years of research and development, we have accumulated lots of our unique design rules. For example, only in constructional design of the product, we have 822 unique rules.
In this process, we also need to choose the best raw material and components and the suitable production technique. For example, for "Selfie Expert" series' metal body, our engineers made comparison of dozens of raw material from seven vendors in different countries and then cooperated to improve the production technique once chosen the material. In this way, the metal body provides superior looking and hand feel.
Before mass production, we have 390 strict tests from raw material to product. All the standards are higher than national or industrial standard, and many of the tests are OPPO's unique. This kind of strict quality control and test also continues in mass production.
As for the selfie-taking quality of F1s, in the R&D process, after the standard test, we have rounds of scenario test and then do rounds of adjust, twice as much as the industrial common number. We test more than 100 scenarios to make sure that F1s could take beautiful selfies in every light conditions. Going forward, based on our consumer study, we will continue to provide best camera phone, especially best selfie-taking experience in 2017 for the youthful consumers.
IBT: How is OPPO's camera technology different from other OEMs?
Li: OPPO has many accumulations in photography technology. For example, in 2012, we were the first in the industry to launch mobile device with built-in Beautify function. In 2013, we launched the N1 with the world's first rotating camera and 2014 the world's only automatic rotating camera.
In 2016, we launched the SmartSensor Optical Stabilization technology which is the world's smallest and only sensor-based OIS. Based on the constant study of our consumers, we've always been dedicated to provide our consumers best photography experience, which lets them record the beauty of live easily at any moment, anywhere. And the photo turns out to be clear, bright and colorful.
In 2016, our camera focused series – F1, F1 Plus and the F1s have all been manufactured with an attention to give consumers the perfect selfie expert via a 16 MP front camera, an industry first! We have also received an overwhelming feedback from the Indian market in terms of our product quality as well as the after sales service. OPPO is always trying to deliver the best camera phone products with good design, quality and service.
IBT: What are OPPO's development plans for India for 2017?
Li: In OPPO, we always believe, "product itself is the best marketing". Based on our consumer study for the year 2016, we will continue to bring advanced products with best user experience in 2017. Providing the best camera phone, especially the best selfie-taking experience, is the priority for us.
In 2017, we'll also try to provide better services to our consumers. We are aiming at building 550 service centers till the end of 2017 to cover all regions among India, so that all our consumers experience fast service.
We will be working towards further strengthening our presence in the Indian market in terms of offline presence, to further connect with our consumers in India. Also, we'll start to build our own industrial park in India.
In terms of marketing and branding, we will further strengthen our focus on youth through entertainment and sports marketing.
IBT: What are OPPO's market strategies for India?
Li: India is our most important market among all. In OPPO, we always believe that product itself is the best marketing. So based on study of our consumers, we will continue to provide best camera phones with perfect selfie-taking experience.
Currently, we focus on the offline markets and try to make constant progress in providing better services. We hope that consumers from all India could get fast service easily. So we are aiming at building 550 service centers till the end of 2017 to cover all regions among India
In terms of marketing and branding, we focus on a 360-degree approach to connect with our consumers across all platforms. We'll continue to focus on the youth and next year we'll try to strengthen our presence through entertainment and sports marketing.
IBT: How much does OPPO plan to invest in brand development in India?
Li: We will continue to focus on the youth, and try to touch our consumers across all platforms, especially entertainment and sports that the youth like.
IBT: OPPO has a lead over Apple and Xiaomi in China, how does it plan to scale up in India?
Li: The core of OPPO's cooperation cultural is Benfen. It has several level of meanings and it gives us the criterion that we should do the right thing. In OPPO, we believe the right thing we should do is to provide our consumers the best product. So based on the study of Indian consumers, we provide the best product that truly meet their demands, also give them the best service, then the growth and scale up follows naturally. We have full confidence for the Indian market.
IBT: OPPO has a strong presence in offline market and minimum online. Are there any plans to improve its online presence for sales in India?
Li: In OPPO, the guideline for work is "focus and simplicity", we believe that we should only start to focus on another thing once the current one has already been good enough. So currently we'll continuous to focus on the offline market and get further connect with consumers all over India.
Meanwhile, we will develop the online presence just to ensure that people can buy our product in online channels once they want.
IBT: Given an option, which would be the next product line OPPO would explore?
Li: In 2017, we'll continue to focus on providing the best camera phone, especially with best selfie-taking experience.
IBT: What are your sales/ revenue targets for FY2017?
Li: As we said above, the core of OPPO's cooperation cultural is Benfen. It gives us the criterion that we should do the right thing. In OPPO, we believe the right thing we should do is to provide our consumers the best product. We hope our product team could focus on developing the best product rather than the sales targets. So we don't set such kind of KPI.
However, with best products that truly meet consumers demand and best services, the growth of sales follows naturally.
IBT: Did you achieve your sales/revenue targets in 2016?
Li: We have received an over-whelming feedback from the Indian market. According to the newest GFK data, we have been No.2 in terms of market share in October.
IBT: OPPO is one of the fastest growing smartphone brands in India. What have you learnt from the market, and where do you see an opportunity to grow more?
Li: So far, we have received an over-whelming feedback from the Indian market in terms of our product quality as well as the after sales service and sales scales. We have been appreciated for the aesthetic design and innovative technology especially in selfie-taking.
India is a strategic market for us primarily because there is clearly a huge potential to grow in the Indian Smartphone market. Indian consumers really have a high demand in selfie-taking. With evolving times Indian consumers especially youth are now looking for innovative and power-packed devices thus creating a lot of opportunity for us.
As a brand, we feel that our products have been accepted well because of the way we have played on the consumer trend of taking selfies. The current trend indicates that increasingly Smartphones are doubling up as cameras and consumers are looking for offerings that are a confluence of a phone and a high tech camera, which is exactly what we offer. We expect this trend to continue and thus would work towards increasing our engagement towards the youth
IBT: After camera and VOOC charging, which other features do you plan to lead with in your future smartphones?
Li: OPPO's product strategy has been based around three key pillars, Design, Photography and Battery Solutions like VOOC Flash Charge. These three pillars are salient for us throughout the globe and in India now we are focusing on photography especially selfie technology featured by delicately designed high quality phones for the youthful consumers.
IBT: OPPO is poised to take on some of the greatest brands such as Samsung and Apple. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
Li: We strongly believe that our innovative camera technology is our biggest strength followed by the meticulous design and VOOC flash charge technology. We are constantly working towards strengthening our product offerings to cater to our consumers better.
IBT: What was the impact from the recent #BanChineseProducts campaign in India?
With our focus on creating localized products and as a part of Make in India initiative, we have established a facility to manufacture products here in India. We are also looking at creating an industrial park in India thus leading to a lot of job opportunities in India. Currently we have more than 25,000 Indian employees and believe that we will be able to make a difference and contribute to the Indian economy.
IBT: How has your presence been in the U.S. and European markets? Do you have any rebranding plans for those markets?
Li: OPPO offers audio products like Blue-ray audio and high-end headphones in the U.S. and European markets.