Ali Kakvi, Marketing Director at OPPO Pakistan is of the opinion that with the growing competition in the handset market, you have to continuously challenge yourself to survive and come up with how you can do better to rise above the other brands. How the company plans to make a mark for itself in the Pakistani market, we had an exclusive session to discuss the new products along with their marketing formula. Following is what he shared about how they have captured the market in a few years.

What was OPPO’s initial strategy to gain the market share it enjoys today?

Our global strategy from the start was to become the number one smartphone brand and with that vision, OPPO arrived in the Pakistani market four years ago where there is a lot of room to play around due to the absence of local competition.

In the local market, our strategy included two things, first to build a retail network and the second to devise better ways to capture the market. Last year, we ranked number two in the regional smartphone market and we are now aiming to become the number one brand in Pakistan.

How do you calculate the company’s performance and ranking in Pakistan?

Like most of the consumer products, the ranking of the brand comes down to the sales value along with customer satisfaction. As feature phones still fly off the shelves in huge numbers, we do not rely on the sales units to determine the position of any brand in the handset market. Also, we rely on GFK’s data to see the current position of our company and its standing in terms of sales value.

Which smartphone technology is OPPO currently focusing on?

Currently, many companies are focusing on camera technology but we have already established ourselves to be the selfie experts. OPPO’s name has become synonymous with selfies and when people hear OPPO, they immediately think about camera phone. Now we believe that it is time to move on from just being a selfie smartphone and for this purpose, we recently introduced our VOOC flash charge technology which has been integrated into our company-wide strategies

The VOOC technology was established four years ago and ever since it was in the phase of constant improvement. In the world of fast internet and 4G, we need fast charging to keep up with the world and especially if you have to travel long hours. With the introduction of our VOOC technology, we are working towards making our phones compatible with the current lifestyle.

OPPO introduced Super VOOC technology, which charges the smartphone in 35 minutes, with the launch of OPPO Find X Lamborghini edition and is working on introducing it in other mobile devices as well. We have to wait and see how long will it take for it to come to Pakistan.

OPPO is focused on introducing mid-range devices in Pakistan. Why not flagship phones?

Looking at the Pakistani market, we have seen that the mid-range segment provides the best result and the most loyal customers. Initially, OPPO targeted this segment because there was a huge gap between the Rs. 15,000 to Rs. 40,000 range and no real choices for the users.

Owing to the rapid digitization, more and more people especially the working class, middle class, small-scale entrepreneurs etc. needed smartphones and our mid-range devices provided them affordable choices.

OPPO is slowly moving towards the flagship segment and with the introduction of Find X in Pakistan, we tried to create awareness that we are more than a mid-range brand and are moving forward in the world of innovation.

Some people are still not confident about buying OPPO phones. What kind of challenges do you face for your product’s approval?

In my personal opinion, the early body designs made people think that it was a replica device and the stereotype of the Chinese products (assuming it to be a copy of a bigger brand) made it a challenge to make people see the actual product. Also, many people in Pakistan are followers of major brands and believe that higher the price, better the performance of the smartphone.

Slowly, we have changed the perception of the market and OPPO has managed to create loyalty among the users. We try to involve tech and fashion influencers to promote the brand. Recently we worked with Mawra Hocane, for the purple variant of OPPO F9, which has received a warm feedback. She being a young star with a great personality was the perfect fit for our brand which targets youth. In deciding an influencer, social media metrics play a huge role and as Mawra’s following goes beyond borders, she was an ideal choice.

How do you see OPPO’s resale value in the handset market?

In terms of resale value, OPPO is doing great as the mid-range market religiously follows our brand. Thanks to the strong customer recall through its ads and retail network, the resale value has improved over the years and now it is almost 20 percent less than the actual price.

OPPO chose a difficult path by bypassing the wholesalers and building a retail network. What kind of benefits do you enjoy now?

It is quite amazing that OPPO built a retail structure of its own were sales are directly managed by employees, overlooked by CEO and VP. This makes the process more transparent and quite convenient for us. We were also the first brand to introduce sales on cash to distributors and dealers which although turned out to be successful, was a challenging task. The retail network provides more control to the company which is beneficial in the long run.

What is OPPO’s marketing strategy to attract the Pakistani market?

In marketing, there are two areas of focus; one is the consumer and the other is the target group. Our strategy is based on the latter which for OPPO is the young generation who loves tech, sports, traveling and is a social media user. Our consumers around the world are young people who regardless of their social standing want a smartphone which they can flaunt and can use to take better pictures.

While studying our consumer in Pakistan, we have seen that most of the youngsters look for OPPO devices after watching the ads on YouTube, highlighting the importance of digitalization for our brand. We also have not let go of the traditional approach like print, television, etc. as many of the decision makers still rely on these technologies to attain information about a certain product. OPPO’s strategy, in short, is based on 360-degree marketing and delivering the right message at the right time with relatable content.

(The interview was published in our periodical, More Magazine)