While OnePlus has sought to step into the iPhone’s storytelling shoes, Apple
is working towards creating a more accessible brand. It has a recent campaign extolling the durability and strength of its models, rather than just driving home the elite nature of the brand. Apple has also cut down the price of its old models and is making iPhone XR, now manufactured in India, available at around Rs 50,000. The OnePlus 7Pro is around Rs 49,000.
K V Sridhar, founder and chief creative officer at Hyper Collective sees the two brands turning into versions of each other. OnePlus established its metier with affordable, quality phones and initially focused on its price advantage while iPhone has always been about the superiority of its product. “In a way, Apple started from the top and is trying to settle at a mid-point, while OnePlus started from below and is moving towards a mid-point. They are aping each other’s strategies and at the end of the day, both will have to meet somewhere,” Sridhar added.
The brand is as much a matter of perception as it is about performance. According to an IDC spokesperson, “Apple still enjoys a huge brand halo amongst aspirational consumers in India. Consumers would love to own an iPhone, but not everyone can afford one.” However, in India, its pricing has proven to be prohibitive and according to IDC, affordability schemes and low-priced old generational models are meant to expand the brand’s appeal, without impacting the brand.
However brand consultant Harish Bijoor said that by bringing down the price Brand iPhone will get diluted while OnePlus will find more acceptance at the top end. “In mobile handset industry, there is no clearcut segmentation anymore. All brands are in, and want to, occupy all segments. There will be a dissipation of brand imagery,” he added.
Ashish Mishra, managing director of brand consultancy, Interbrand, said that the two brands want to leverage the epicentre of a market. “The premium market is small in volumes, but highly profitable. It has seen constant upgradation. That’s what makes it attractive and explains the convergent moves by two iconic brands,” he added.
According to IDC, OnePlus is a “new fresh honest brand, which listens to the consumers, brings new technology at non-flagship prices.” As it moves in close to the iPhone, can it hold on to this appeal?