Vivo looks to raise the game in 2020 after capturing market share in 2019

Topics Vivo | Oppo | One Plus 5

In new campaigns, Aamir Khan (above) asks people to switch off their phones for quality family time.
Part of the bouquet of smartphones from the Chinese smartphone company BBK that also owns Oppo, Realme and One Plus, Vivo is being groomed in the art of responsible branding. In a campaign launched earlier this month, the brand has its endorser Aamir Khan being taught the first lessons in developing a good phone-life balance by his son. A busy dad, glued to his phone, while his wife and son wait at the dinner table, Aamir Khan is schooled in the etiquette of family life in the advertisement that has rapidly scaled the likeability charts on social media. 

For a brand that has thus far focused on ticking all the pop culture boxes—from cricket to Bollywood—this is an attempt to ride up the premium ladder say experts. According to brand experts, Vivo’s big challenge is creating a differentiated space for itself in an overflowing tray of sleek looking handsets. Hence Aamir Khan and the counter-intuitive messaging, a phone brand asking users to shut it down and spend quality family time differentiates the narrative and makes it memorable.

Nipun Marya, director, Brand Strategy, Vivo India, said, “We as a brand believe that technology can immensely improve our consumer’s life, but like all things good, should be used cautiously. It was essential we ask ourselves the fundamental question, how much is too much? Thus we commissioned this campaign that urges users to temporarily switch off and give time to relationships.” #SwitchOff campaign is meant to encourage its community of users to stay off their phones for some time every day.

Marya tells an interesting story about the brand’s journey in India. When Vivo launched in 2014, not only did it have to make its mark in a cluttered smartphone market but it also had to distinguish itself from another Vivo, a cooking oil from the Adani Wilmar-group-owned Fortune Foods.

Its initial years were spent creating recall and awareness about the brand and Bollywood and cricket have been handy handmaidens in the task. Market research firm GfK reports that Vivo recorded its highest ever market share of 23 per cent in October 2019, increasing from 17 per cent at the beginning of the year. 

Harish Bijoor, founder, Harish Bijoor Consults said, “Vivo in India grew on the basis of smart pricing and smart distribution. Nifty branding helped as the name was crisp and easy to recall.”

Vivo had signed on Aamir Khan in 2018 and last year, it brought Sara Ali Khan on board for its S Series of smartphones. Vivo is also the title sponsor for Indian Premier League (IPL) and Pro-Kabbadi League (PKL) and has been associated with popular TV properties.

With the two Khans as endorsers, Vivo is hoping to capture the urban and semi urban markets with a pricing strategy that places the brand between One Plus and Oppo, its sister-labels. According to Marya, Khan’s image  resonates with the brand’s core beliefs, he stands for trust, innovation and is always exploring new things. Sara Ali Khan is meant to embody style, freshness, fun and vigour for the S-Series that targets millennial buyers who are socially active and are influenced by design and special features. 

Vivo has built a distribution network that straddles the offline and online retail channels. The offline distribution system is spread across nearly 70,000 retail outlets and more than 4,000 modern trade outlets, the company said. It has over 650 company-owned and company-operated (COCO) service centres too.

Smartphone makers in India have had to find a balance between offline and online retail channels. The two often clash over discounts and  online-only launches that smartphone brands have leveraged to huge success in the past. Vivo is looking for a balance here and while the offline focused Y-series, S-series and V-series were launched on both channels, the brand introduced Z-series and U-series online first. The trick say many is to strike the right note without antagonising retailers and consumers.

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