What has been the market-winning formula for OnePlus?

The smartphone brand has cleverly designed its marketing strategy and restrained from spending big on advertising, thus passing on the cost benefits to customers, say experts

e4m by Dolly Mahayan
Published: May 23, 2019 9:30 AM  | 4 min read

Smartphone major OnePlus made an entry in the Indian market four years ago and it has now achieved the status of a disruptor, thanks to its marketing strategy, say experts.

In the last four years, OnePlus has launched one phone every year unlike other smartphone brands who have unveiled at least 4 to 5 products in a year. 

OnePlus’ marketing strategy has never been to not get restricted to one mode. The company has managed to create a community of engaged and loyal consumers with a steady mix of content.

In the beginning, the brand banked on the ‘Word of Mouth’ strategy for Indian users, which most brands don’t consider right due to the cluttered environment. When the company began its operations, it came with a unique invite-only strategy, which wasn’t heard in the market before. At a time when brands spend heavily on their entry into a new market, OnePlus discarded traditional advertising mediums. The idea was clear: restrain expenditure on advertising and give the cost benefit to customers. 

The brand has always said that it spends wisely on marketing. In 2017, the brand roped in Amitabh Bachchan as its ambassador and created speculations that the brand might spend big on TV ultimately, making the cost of the product higher. However, even after signing Bachhan, the brand kept the marketing cost to a minimum and focused on digital mediums. Recently, they brought in Robert Downey Jr as the new ambassador for the brand.

According to Shishir Mahendrakar, a Senior Strategist at AliveNow, a creative tech agency, “For a smartphone brand, it's a straight out win because of the penetration such celebrities bring to the brand just with their sheer popularity. Bachchan brought the phone to the masses and humanised the brand. Now Robert Downey Jr, is doing the same. This has lend a lot of celebrity status to OnePlus.”

Last year in an interview, Vikas Agarwal, General Manager of OnePlus India said, “We are still conservative about how we utilise our market resources.” 

Well, in the last one year the brand has focused effectively on digital media, especially with the influencer community. Last year, during the OnePlus 6 launch, the brand partnered with various influencers to create a buzz, which helped the brand reach their TG directly. The brand has never bombarded the audiences with too many ads and campaigns. 
Brand Expert N Chandramouli says: “The influencer-based strategy is directly beneficial as it is the source of research for many new phone buyers. Their consumer insights are well researched and applied.”

Besides this, OnePlus seems to be adopting another method of marketing and has partnered with major Global brands to stay relevant among the audience. Netflix, National Geographic, McLaren Luxury and Avengers are few examples on their association list. How does it help the brand to rise on such appeals? We asked industry experts.

Saurabh Uboweja International Brand Expert and CEO Brands of Desire, says, “The brand is constantly looking to amplify its narrative around its star product features. Instead of relying on direct communication, they have been leveraging these premium associations to drive brand salience and aspiration effectively.”

Mahendrakar states that such collaborations are not new to the industry. “As the consumption of OTT content on phones has increased to almost 50% of total consumption, a brand like OnePlus collaborating with Netflix makes a lot of appeal to the product itself during a launch.”

“OnePlus lives its tenet of 'Never Settle' and through that also unsettles the market with its approach. It has made a mark in the premium phones category and with these tie-ups, it has upped the ante again as they have the potential to be game-changers for the brand as also for the industry,” said Chandramouli.

Mahendrakar agrees that OnePlus marketing strategy has changed a lot with adoption of new methods. “They are exploring new and innovative ideas, especially on the digital front in order to add value to their campaigns. Innovative marketing tech is the way forward for all brands today and OnePlus is utilising this aspect very well. As a result, creative digital technology is a part of their strategy for every campaign and it is evident from their recent executions new and emerging fields like Facebook AR.”

OnePlus wants to focus on the premium segment and that is reflecting clearly in the choices. “As a brand grows, you tend to become growth-oriented and lose focus of your identity. OnePlus has chosen to stay consistent to its positioning and identity. Their new marketing strategy reflects that,” Uboweja concluded.

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