Decoding Realme’s Claim of Reaching 4 Million Users

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Realme is one of the youngest smartphone brands in the country. The brand has announced its plans of opening 20,000 retail stores in India

(picture credits – Realme Twitter)

Introduced in India as a sub-brand of Oppo Mobiles, Realme is busy carving out a story of its own in the country. It made its India debut around 7 months ago. Realme, since then, has launched several smartphones including Realme 2, Realme 2 Pro, Realme C1 and Realme U1 in India. Its most expensive phone in the country is priced below Rs 16,000, whereas its most affordable smartphone is retailing for Rs 7,499 on a popular e-commerce portal in India.

The brand, which recently announced its offline expansion plans, claims that it has reached a milestone of four million users in India. It is to be noted here that Realme is one of the youngest smartphone brands in the country.

A Twitter post by Madhav Sheth, CEO of Realme mobiles, read, “What a great news to kick-start 2019! We are now 4 million strong.” Madhav also took to the social media platform to announce that the brand will be opening stores in 50 new cities every quarter.

Tarun Pathak, associate director at Counterpoint Research, commenting on Realme’s journey in India told EFY, “Realme focuses on design and has been quite successful in bringing certain features at very low price points. Be it cheapest Snapdragon 450 device, or one of the most affordable smartphones sporting a notch, Realme has delivered all. The best part about Realme has been its timing. Its smartphone launches were timed well around festive season. Their aggressive channel strategy also helped them to scale quickly.”

A recent report by Counterpoint Research said that Realme registered a record festive performance for any new brand ever in India. Realme was able to capture 9 per cent share, jumping to the third spot in overall sales volume. It was also the second largest in terms of online segment sales with 18 per cent share during Diwali festive sales.

Himanshu Jain, market analyst, client devices, IDC India, told EFY, “The main driver has been very high-end basic hardware specifications like RAM/ROM and notch screen at the entry level price range of $100 to $200 (Rs.7,000 – Rs.14,000). Realme started operating in India with the launch of Realme 1 in the Rs 8,000 to Rs 12,000 category. It clicked with Indian consumers well but the real game changer was RealMe 2 with notch display and 2 Pro with water-drop notch display at the price below Rs 20,000. It captured the attention of consumers instantly and helped Realme to ship in 4 million units in India in 2018.”

Realme will reach 50 new cities every quarter

The brand recently announced its plans of opening 20,000 retail stores in India. A tweet by the brand read, “Your love for Realme phones has brought us very near to you! We will be going to 50 new cities every quarter.”

Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Bangalore, Kolkatta, Jaipur, Guwahati, Delhi, Noida, Lucknow and Pune are the cities Realme plans to reach in its offline expansion phase.

Calling offline retail stores as Real partner stores, an official Realme Twitter handle post stated, “Your favorite Realme smartphone is now just one step away from your place! Buy them from one of our REAL Partner stores offline.”

Faisal Kawoosa, founder and lead analyst, techArc, told EFY, “Realme is an online heavy brand, the recent tweaking of e-commerce policy will have impact on it as well. It did announce an offline plan, but it’s only an announcement and how soon it can achieve it is to be seen.”

Commenting about the offline presence for brands in India Faisal said, “The offline retailers have seen in the recent past that emerging brands sort of vanish as fast as they come on the ground. So, many of them are skeptical of the persistence in business while engaging with such brands. They have seen this in the past with brands like Oppo and Vivo.”

It is to be noted here that several China-based smartphone brands, including Comeo and Gionee, have already made an exit from the Indian smartphone market.

Realme sees its users as brand ambassdors!

Several posts made by Madhav Sheth and official Realme Twitter handle have time and again hinted towards the brand treating its users as its brand ambassadors. In fact, Madhav, regularly retweets posts made by Realme users.

He recently posted another tweet with a picture of Realme users that read, “Wanted to celebrate this 4 Million milestone with our users who are our brand ambassadors & my extended family.”

Faisal, expressing his views about the trend, told EFY, “I don’t think users should be termed as brand ambassadors, they can be at best termed as brand advocates. Unfortunately, we have created a lot of confusion in the influencer-marketing space, especially after Xiaomi came into existence.”

He explained that a user’s true loyalty is tested when the market gets a substitute for the smartphone that the particular individual had brought initially. He said, “That is to be seen when a customer gets a potential substitute in the market, and if the customer still prefers to go by the same brand, then we can say that there is positive loyalty. The tenure of engagement is critical in these cases. This is just the beginning and can be seen as a fad at the most. We will have to wait for some more time to see customer behavior in order to gauge loyalty in real essence.”

Future predictions for Realme

The latest tweaks in the FDI e-commerce policy and more brands entering the Indian smartphone market may make sales difficult for all the existing smartphone companies. It is also to be noted here that more than 50 per cent of India’s smartphone market is offline and Realme has already announced its offline expansion plans.

Himanshu Jain explained, “RealMe’s plan to expand in offline channel is the right move as more than 60 per cent of India’s smartphone market is offline, and offline remains an important channel for any brand’s long term success and commitment in India. 2019 might be more competitive as other brands, like Xiaomi and Vivo, are already pushing the market limits by offering latest technology devices at affordable prices. Moreover, brands like Honor and Transsion are also looking to capture bigger market share in 2019. If done well and quickly, the offline expansion will be key to Realme’s success in India.”

On Realme’s decision to operate as a separate brand in the country, Himanshu said, “Oppo has been an offline heavy brand in India since its inception and have good experience of operating in the country. It proved good for Realme to launch as an independent brand as it’s now seen as a new brand with latest offerings. According to IDC’s consumer survey, Indian consumers are open to experience a new brand if it’s launched with latest technology at competitive prices. In short, going independent helped Realme create a new identity in the market.”

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