Why the Last Great Push in Smartphone Sales is in India

With smartphone sales waning in most big markets around the world, suppliers want to squeeze the very last drop of growth out of India. After smartphone market saturation occurs in India, smartphone sales are destined for lower growth.

That’s why the smartphone-industry push is so forceful today. Now that international and Chinese smartphone brands have taken the market share lead over domestic brands in the Indian market, they are turning up the heat on their in-country marketing and manufacturing efforts.

Earlier marketing strategies are being boosted by a greater commitment from suppliers, with companies like Xiaomi building high-profile “brand” stores in India.

Earlier, Xiaomi, for example, conducted online flash sales for its initial marketing strategy in partnership with Flipkart, one of India’s leading online retailers. Customers had to register for the Xiaomi’s sales events to buy the smartphones, and a limited stock of devices assured a “sold out” result in just a few seconds. The flash sales helped Xiaomi make their name in India.  Afterwards, many other vendors followed Xiaomi to set up their online stores.

Today, Xiaomi is aggressively building its offline business  with pop-up stores in big electronics stores and setting up Mi Preferred Partner stores and its own Mi Home stores. The physical presence of the stores helped to double the online smartphone sales in India.

Xiaomi is in good company with Apple and other suppliers recording healthy sales in India. Apple and  Google (Pixel smartphone) have both announced plans to build physical stores in India to help build their brands; provide better after-sale services, and most important, let customers touch and play with the new products. Bigger in-country commitments are being made with brands like Xiaomi (in partnership with Foxconn) for manufacturing smartphones in country. Xiaomi reports that these plants manufacture about three-quarters of the smartphones it sells in India.

Investing in brick-and-mortar stores and manufacturing signals high confidence in the Indian market. The high-growth smartphone era will end, but these actions suggest that suppliers still see a lot of life left in the Indian smartphone market.