How Mobiistar is Making all the Right Moves to Grow in India


Mobiistar may be seen as a new entrant in the India’s mobile phone market segment, but whether it is about placing the right service strategy or injecting meaningful innovation in the sub 10K market – the brand is acting in a mature manner in terms of making all the right moves to garner greater market share in India.

Aniruddha Deb, CMO, Mobiistar speaks with Zia Askari from about the company’s current strategy for India and its future plans.

Tell us something about your key priorities today?

To answer that I need to give you a slight background, so obviously we are a new brand and we practically started in India from August last year. We did enter little earlier through Flipkart with 2 models online.

To be honest it was also to test the waters, to find acceptance in a completely new country for the brand. August is actually when we started the journey, the offline journey.

So now the biggest priority, even today is actually how do we become really strong when it comes to the first step which is the offline distribution. So, starting from August through December we ended up being in all 27 states pan India.

Very strong coverage within the tier 1, tier 2 and tier 3 cities, with more than 37000 outlets out of universe of 105000 outlets that is about 35%. The point is, the key priority is really to build up retailers in the offline distribution network and also to keep on increasing distributers.

Currently we are about 650 regional distributers across India and we have kept on increasing our outlets, the retailers and so that’s our top most priority. In a nutshell- because under 10K brand we are in the mass market smartphones.

A big challenge or rather an opportunity is the accessibility. We all talk about online markets e-commerce, but when you see the facts and data, the number of people who buy phones online from tier 2 and 3 are not really much, in fact I can safely say 70% is offline. It is extremely important to be present, to be accessible to them. So that’s really our key core right now, how to be really strong, be accessible, be available in every corner and nook of greater India specially.

This category you are operating in the mass market category, I think the brand recall and trust or brand association, these are some of the attributes that customers look for. What is your strategy to build up on those?

I will rephrase what you just said. So, who are these people, that’s really the key question. There are 2 kinds of consumers in the market who are obviously upgrading from a feature phone. They for the first time enter in the life of a smartphone. It’s important to talk about both and is meant for both.

The other is people who do use smartphones reasonable ones, not so aesthetic, ones without great features so on so forth. We need to understand one common factor between the both sets of consumers which is, the first priority is not trust or brand but is affordability or they would have already had great smartphones. The very fact that we talk about the 10K is because people want to have great value for money, do not have the affordability to buy expensive smartphones, who doesn’t want to.

The point I am trying to make is for these set of people who are upgrading from a feature phone and who are upgrading their so called ordinary smartphone, still the biggest starting point is affordability. So, the question than is, at an affordable price what best we can get.

This is that consumer. Now he sees the bigger brands and competition and creates the aspiration again. What we are trying to do is give those aspirations at the price point that he has in his pocket. That’s the strategy.

So, what are the big innovations you are doing?

Selfies is one of the biggest trends in India which has been till now and will remain to be. So, for us the innovation looking at this lifestyle need was to actually bring those higher and better cameras at again the price that the consumers can afford.

Every innovation we do is to innovate for value, is to innovate for this Target Consumer, is to bring those technologies at a price that they can afford. This will continue, this is exactly what our offering will be continuously.

This space that you are operating, what are some of the challenges that you see there, from the market?

The challenges are many. The first challenge is obviously so many players, as this is the most crowded segment in smartphones, brands keep coming, some go away.

So from a trade point of view it’s actually a bigger challenge on how we first make our trade confident that you are a brand who means business, who are brand who provide support, who is here to stay so that becomes the first challenge for us which is trade and the confidence around the brand.

Consumers are equally a bigger challenge but slightly different. Now there of course the strategy is simple as long as I keep giving him what he is aspiring at an affordable price which he can afford he will keep looking at me. So, the day I will change that equation I am gone for him.

Of course, we are a new brand, right now with consumers we are just getting to know each other. And the relationship is more transactional cause I am providing him some great features at a great price.

However, the challenge is that given there are so many brands, how do I actually start creating a relationship with him. How do I start becoming a relevant brand for him? Which other brands have done for so many years, but I would say that most of the smartphone brands under 10K and even in the mid-segment which is 10K to 30K are going on talking technology to their consumers.

So, every communication are purely from the technology side fast speed, more RAM more features etc. But we want to talk to them about what we mean to them. For our consumers who is under 10K, whether we tell him 10, 15 or 40 Mega pixels, he doesn’t know what do with it. But the moment we tell him that we have a selfie camera which has AI and what it does to you is that you don’t even need makeup to look good, he understands it. So that’s the kind of relationship we want to build at the consumer side.

On the channel strategy front, what is your go to market strategy, the structure of channel?

The way we have started our distribution journey we started this philosophy internally that we don’t want to be one of those brands whose cantered at an HQ and is spreading everything in the Hub and Spoke model. We want to have a hub in every region. We felt that we will truly able to spread our roots across India and specially the deeper and greater India. It is very easy to control India when we talk about urban sector, but it is equally tough when you want to be present and really spread in the rural sector.

And also, the model of channel, business has changed over the years now you have quite well entrenched in multi brand retailers?

So, we basically have regional distributers, who inline have regional retailers. So, we are only in multi brand retailers now.

From a customer stand point what has been in the feedback that you have received?

It will be unfair to give a number, we have started entering official documents but again it’s the beginning so even we don’t use that in our internal presentation but because we are selling over 37000 dealers and with the launch of our third campaign in January, what I can say is that we have got really good awareness.

We are selling specially well in INR 6000 segment, we have more models there. Recently we have launched 2 flagship models so far. Which are around the 8K price. There was Mobiistar X1 dual now there is Mobiistar X1 Notch. They are able to give us a lot of premium-ness under the 10K segment.

So, our consumers are looking at us as a brand who are for them. We are not a brand who are coming with big celebrities. We are constantly showing or using people who really are real. So, if you look at all our communication, ads, etc. we only show real life and real people.

Tell us about your plans on investment and manufacturing for India.

Plans are already in place with India. We have partnered with VUSUN’s plant in Bawal, Haryana for assembling and manufacturing now in India and that obliviously shows our intentions for India. The other reason we are doing this because we want to upscale, we are present pan India in so many outlets we need to have that supply.

In terms of basically investment for our manufacturing we didn’t wait. Honestly speaking from day one when we said we will go offline last year, we actually put all this in place. From day one we have said lets quickly change our model start manufacturing here.

Let’s spread and get more and more multi brand outlets, one third of the market we are present, we want to be 50% in the market in the next 6 months. We are crossing 60000 outlets by the next 6 months.

What kind of service network have you put in place?

One of the many things we started from the beginning and not waited, when we launched in India that we started with 1000 service centres. In fact, we had announced in our first launch we are here not just to sell but we are here to stand next to you. Our products from a quality point of view are not having faults.

The service requirement for our products has not been major and hence our service team are contributing in other kind of activities as well, like when the Kerela Floods happened we started doing free screen replacement and water damage repair etc. We have a very robust service centre because of our quality product we are not busy at a service level, but that network is ready to support.

It is 1000 and spread across even in smaller towns. And yes, by the time we do present our self in 60000 outlets that number will grow. Our clear intention is we will keep increasing as the requirements occur.

What kind of growth are you looking for in the coming months?

I will give you our goal. We are growing, no doubt about it. It’s very early for numbers, you really talk about numbers when you reach a level and a mark of 1 year. Any data is year in and year end to set a bench mark. However, we are very close and will be able to achieve it in the next six months.

In another six months we will complete a year, but we are already there in the top 10 players and we want to enter in the top 5 players by the end of this year 2019. That’s our growth goal.