Chinese smartphone maker Huawei is now aiming for a top spot in India’s premium handset market, which is currently ruled by players like Samsung, OnePlus and Apple, having recently re-entered the market with “Huawei-branded” smartphone P20 and P20 Pro.
The company is making the push in the high-end segment through its “Huawei-branded” smartphones, while its sub-brand Honor continues to compete with the likes of Xiaomi and Oppo that are focusing on the sub Rs 20,000 category.
“This is the right time to push for our Huawei-branded smartphones. Nobody can ignore India…it’s the fastest growing market. Our target is to become the top player in the high-end or premium segment in India,” Allen Wang, Director, Product Centre, Huawei India Consumer Business Group, told ET. “India is the most important market.”
OnePlus was the top premium smartphone brand (Rs 30,000 and above) in India, even as Samsung regained its top spot in the second quarter, according to Counterpoint Research. Huawei along with its sub-brand Honor had 3% market share in the Indian smartphone segment, with a majority of the sales coming from Honor.
Premium smartphone market grew 19% YoY as more consumers upgrade to 2018 flagship launches by different Android OEMs in India.
"Huawei captured 4% of the premium smartphone segment within first quarter of its launch driven by Honor 10 and P20 shipments. It is using online as a channel to target premium smartphone users in Tier 1 cities'" Counterpoint's Tarun Pathak said
Honor was the second fastest growing handset brand after OnePlus in the second quarter with 188% yearly growth.
The executive said the Indian and Chinese markets are very similar in terms of consumer trends. “China users are currently upgrading and people in India are doing the same as they have the ability to pay for the better experience. This is the right time to up focus on the high-end segment.
The handset maker said that it will launch more devices in the segment this year, and the upcoming festive season will help it drive the sales in the country. “We are confident because of our ability as we are bringing meaningful differentiation,” he added.
Huawei is making investments towards research and development (R&D), marketing and channel to bolster its presence in the country. Wang, however, said that the brand is not looking to ape Oppo and Vivo’s marketing strategy to garner quick market share in the country.
Huawei has rejigged the top management of its India Consumer Business Group, or smartphone business, by replacing Peter Zhai with Peng Chao, who has taken over as the new chief executive. Under the new structure, P Sanjeev, vice president-sales at Huawei India- Consumer Business Group is spread heading the Honor brand, while Wang is focusing on the Huawei-branded consumer business.
Huawei will continue to focus on both offline and online retail channels to sell its devices in India. Wang said that the company is currently making efforts to develop the offline channel, even as it forms partnerships with e-commerce players to tap the online opportunity.