HTC embarks on its second innings in India

Experts talk about whether the brand, with their new product Wildfire X, will be able to attract customers after exiting the smartphone market a year ago

e4m by Dolly Mahayan
Updated: Aug 20, 2019 9:46 AM



Smartphone brand HTC has made a comeback in the Indian market after it exited the smartphone business and sold the HTC licensing rights to InOne Technology. Their new product, launched last week, has been named Wildfire X and will be available on Flipkart from August 22.

Smartphone’s brands like Nokia and Blackberry have made a re-entry in the sub-continent and HTC is the third major brand joining the race under a different leadership.

Amid the cluttered smartphone market and intense competition largely dominated by Chinese manufacturers like Xiaomi, OnePlus, Samsung and Vivo, will HTC be able to get back its market presence in India?

Brand Expert, N Chandramouli, CEO, TRA says, “The segment that HTC is re-launching in is the sweet spot for the entire smartphone industry and therefore has many well established players in it, making it steeply competitive.”

He adds, “It is a tough re-entry for HTC to gain back customer attention, as a brand's continuity not only gives sustained mindshare, but also brand switches happen when there is lack of surety about a brand's stability in a market. Even now, many of the newly attracted customers are likely to wait and watch before they commit to HTC.”

Brand Expert, Aman Abbas, Co-founder, Commwiser Consultants, echos the same thought, “The market condition now is much tougher in India, compared to when they left. They would need very innovative strategy along with solid marketing budgets to be able to make a mark. It will also depend upon the product offerings and price points. For a category like this, usually comebacks are difficult since the market and customer preferences change very quickly”.

Brand Consultant Kirti Sharma adds, “Though HTC caters to premium, middle and entry level categories but for them now the comeback is going to be difficult. So if HTC has to penetrate the consumer psyche and the market, they have to bring in service- innovation.”

For a brand, which decided to shut down and make a comeback in a span of a year is a bold step. To invoke the nostalgia, what marketing strategy should they be aiming at?

Abbas opines, even though the Chinese products sell well in Indian markets but there is always a perception battle they fight over quality. HTC may consider playing around their non-Chinese origin. This also leads to adding ‘premium’ or ‘quality’ positioning to the brand, which may resonate well with Indian consumers. E-commerce platform tie-up will also help.

Chandramouli believes, “With a new franchise taking over the HTC brand, they are likely to have thought through the challenges, and infusing fresh energy into an old brand will give benefits. Further, HTC must look at a combined strategy of an unbeatable product, parallel to a strong proposition.”

Sharma concludes, “They should target the middle class and bottom of the pyramid first as the upper section consumers have strong brand preferences. So changing that will be difficult. HTC can create value for money products coupled with innovative after sales service and a good distribution network.”

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