Obi Mobiles refuses to jump onto e-retail wagon

Where most other new entrants in the crowded smartphone market in India seem to prefer to take the e-commerce route, Obi Mobile wants to create a specific product strategy for different mediums while concentrating on brick-and-mortar retailers first

e4m by Abhinn Shreshtha
Updated: Oct 31, 2014 10:27 AM
 Obi Mobiles refuses to jump onto e-retail wagon

Obi Mobiles is one of the latest smartphone manufacturer to enter the Indian market. It made its official launch in July and has already released 12 smartphones. However, unlike most other smartphone manufacturers these days, Obi is not taking the e-retail route for its launches. “The product strategy has to be different for different channels,” says Ajay Sharma, CEO of Obi Mobiles. “If you want distribution channels to work together, they should not compete with each other.”

Rising trend of e-commerce players selling smartphones: David to brick & mortar Goliath?

Sharma told us that the brand is currently concentrating on building up its brick-and-mortar presence with 55 distributors across 75 cities so far. It has also tied up with HCL as a service partner with around 116 service centres across the country. “Design, branding and user experience will be our key differentiators,” said Sharma, while acknowledging that the TG is anyone from the age group of 14 to the 20s.

However, he mentioned that the next stage would be association with LFRs and e-retailers, with different products being sold through different mediums. Earlier, in July, Obi had launched the Octopus S520 through Snapdeal initially before making it available through other distributors.

To stamp its presence in the crowded Indian market, Obi recently launched a campaign with Draftfcb Ulka as its creative agency. The campaign, with the tagline “Whoever You Are” was primarily a TV campaign but was also taken to print, outdoor and digital. “For mass awareness, TV is the best option. However, we will also be using the digital medium, as well as print and OOH, for regional promotions,” said Sharma. He also informed us that Obi is looking at launching a new campaign soon (the “Whoever you Are” campaign ran from September 12 to October 12). Draftfcb Ulka will be the creative partners once again.

“We will be leveraging all the medium in the coming months. Also, these ATL campaigns will be supported by BTL activities like in-store branding, etc.,” he said. He could not give an idea of the marketing funds available for India, though with expansion plans currently in place for Middle East, as well as other emerging markets like South America and Eastern Europe, the company does not seem to want to leave any stone unturned.

Obi Mobiles is promoted by Singapore-based Inflexionpoint, which counts former Apple CEO and management guru John Sculley among its co-founders.

A GSMA report has put India in the fourth spot among global smartphone markets. The report also said that India had nearly 110 million smartphone connections in Q2’14. Meanwhile, earlier this year, research firm Gartner said sales of basic smartphones (including midrange Android devices) are projected to grow 52 per cent in 2014, while utility smartphone units (including low-end Chinese white box devices) would double.

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