Have allocated resources from other regions towards Indian market: Vikas Agarwal, OnePlus India

Vikas Agarwal on the handset maker’s marketing strategy for 2018 with more focus on offline activities and tier-I and tier-II cities, expanding its offline stores and the need to put India first

Chinese smartphone maker OnePlus has completed three years in India, which has responded extremely well to the brand. The latest example is the swift sell out of OnePlus 5T model within five minutes of its early access on Amazon last month. Vikas Agarwal- General Manager at OnePlus India, shared that the tickets to their launch of OnePlus 5T Star Wars limited edition (for which they tied up with the movie 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi') was sold out. This offer was exclusive only to India. Agarwal in a telephonic chat shared the handset maker’s marketing strategy for 2018 with more focus on offline activities on tier-I and tier-II cities, expanding its offline stores and the need to put India first. Excerpts:  
India has turned out to be quite an important market for One Plus. How are you prioritising it? 

The market is responding very well to us. Majority of the spends for the company in terms of branding are actually going in the Indian market. In fact, we have allocated resources from other regions towards the Indian market. As a company we are over investing in India because we see a huge growth potential here. We are doing more aggressive marketing here compared to what we used to do earlier. 
Till last year in India we were not doing any advertising. Even in other countries we don't really do a lot of advertising. Only this year we started it because we are completely shifting our presence in select markets. As a brand India and UK are the top most important markets for us. All our companies’ resources are exhausted in these markets. One Plus has become the number two brand in three years in the premium segment. In India the premium market is 5 per cent of the overall market. There is a huge growth in terms of the overall segment and within our own One Plus extension.

What’s the marketing strategy for 2018? 

The core focus of our marketing strategy is word of mouth. It's largely the users’ validation and feedback we get across different channels. One Plus 5T got an Amazon rating of 4.7 which is far higher than any other product listed on the platform. We had done a print campaign with actor Amitabh Bachchan earlier this year where we actually asked users about the best smartphone on Amazon India. So we are bullish on this form of marketing. OnePlus 5 has been the top selling product every month from July onwards both online and offline. It has been one of the biggest successes of this year.

Going ahead if there is an interesting opportunity we are open to using traditional channels like TV and print. BTL activation helps us in engaging. For the Star Wars Limited edition edition we did a launch event in Mumbai where we had invited the fans, apart from the media.

The common theme throughout the year will be offline interaction with the One Plus community and we would like to scale it up. Earlier pop-ups were limited to only three cities Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore. For Star Wars launch we extended it to nine cities- Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad, Pune, Chandigarh, Ahmedabad and Kochi apart from the three metros. Looking forward we would probably try to expand the circle of brand awareness to more tier-I and II cities than focusing only on metros. 
In online we are clearly number one. The strategy of focusing on one product a year on online on Amazon and relying on user feedback as the timely marketing vehicle is really working for us.

Being a digital brand you surprised the industry by launching an offline store in Bangalore early this year. How has the response been? Any plans to set up another one?

The store in Bangalore was started as an experiment as it’s one of our most important markets. We were surprised with the kind of response we have received at the store. The sales here are better than any retail mobile store in the country. From our perspective the store does really well. As an overall business it's still very small. In terms of absolute numbers it's probably better than all other competing offline stores. We are looking to expand this format to other cities. Going forward we will open one more store in Delhi or Mumbai or both cities in 2018 if we find some good location.

You mentioned about offline activations earlier. Can you tell us more about it?

Offline will be one focus area. We will continue to explore more channels. We will be looking at more premium forms of advertising like airports. These are the activities which are already doing well for us.  ATL will be more tactical in nature. Our recall is word of mouth or the customer testimonials given to us on different channels. We want to make sure that we are known for our quality products, not because of celebrity endorsements. For more updates, be socially connected with us on
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