OPPO, a smartphone manufacturing company headquartered in China and having operations in various markets in Asia Pacific and North Africa, launched its operations in Pakistan just over an year ago.
OPPO is largely known for its brilliant branding and amazing marketing strategy back home in China where they enjoy a fair market share and we all were hoping to see similar kind of impact in Pakistani market where the demand for Smartphones had just opened up after 3G/4G auction in April 2014.
However, OPPO failed to attract any significant response in Pakistan. Let’s look at what exactly went wrong with them so far.
Flawed Pricing Strategy
Despite fierce competition and a clear demand for low-to-mid-end smartphones, a fresh brand with no trust from consumers at all, OPPO launched high-end phones and even worse it arguably priced them more than the value that these phones had to offer.
Later in 2014 OPPO launched couple of more models in Singapore that were immediately made available in Pakistan, but those were again high-priced devices, a segment that is aggressively dominated by Samsung and Apple.
OPPO tried to damage control the situation by offering hefty discounts — as much as 25% — for its flagship devices, including the ones that were still fresh in age and were sold by OPPO as its premium devices.
An OPPO spokerperson, in an email communication with ProPakistani said that decision for reduction in price for premium handsets like Find 7s was taken because handset was launched an year ago. Commenting on the discounts offered for N3 and R5 devices, he said that reduction in price was part of OPPO’s special campaign on Eid.
According to the spokesperson, these discount offers are normal and other smartphone companies also offer similar discounts and promotions for their phones.
One has to wonder that why these phones weren’t rightly priced in the first place, to gain trust at least and to get itself recognized in the local market.
OPPO failed to make their first impression, and it is going to be hard for them to make an impression again with such discounts.
As smartphone companies are evolving, they keep on innovating their ways of interaction with retailers, who are considered the back-bone of the sales channels of any smartphone brand. QMobile is best known for manipulating the retailers and feeding them with their needs. This is probably why chances are that retailers will show you a QMobile before any other handset when asked for a smartphone in specific price range.
OPPO struggled here too. Market perception about the company isn’t solid and retailers aren’t happy with how OPPO dealt with them. This is a reason that OPPO hasn’t been able to clear its stock for a year old Find 7 device.
OPPO’s business model is flawed, they are working on cash in a credit based market and this is exactly you won’t hear much from retailers about the brand.
Perception can easily be measured if you go to market and simply try to sell your OPPO phones. Retailers’ response and feedback will clearly tell you the position where you brand is standing and how well it is received by the masses.
OPPO probably thought that branding their shops and coloring the mobile plazas will do the trick. It is clear that they misjudged the community and fed them with wrong food.
OPPO is also struggling with maintaining its relations with various vendors and partners, who rendered their services to OPPO.
Management Issues (Resignations and Layoffs)
On top of what we have discussed above, OPPO has been undergoing some severe managerial issues since the start of their operation in the country. Their senior staff, including HR Manager, Marketing Manager, Brand Supervisor, Product Manager and Community Manager resigned recently by sensing the situation of the company.
When we asked the spokesperson, he justified that few employees left the company because OPPO was not satisfied with their performance and working attitudes. He said that replacements for these positions are being arranged and will be filled accordingly.
Our sources tell us that various OPPO investors left the country, indicating that OPPO has lost its hope in Pakistani market, but they are confident about Pakistan and emphasized that OPPO has plans to stay in Pakistan for long.
OPPO fired several hundred of its sales staff recently to cut the expenses, which has triggered a bad repute for the company in the market. When asked, OPPO said that it had to fire some staff to maintain company’s integrity and that staff didn’t follow company’s policies so only qualified staff is retained while rest are allowed to leave.
One may wonder that why unqualified staff was hired in the first place.
OPPO is confident about its future in Pakistan, at least this is what they claim. It said that high-ups from China just arrived Pakistan and they have some big plans for the market.
However, few individuals, who have previously worked with OPPO, while sharing their thoughts with us said that OPPO has potential in its devices but management and pricing is an area where it must put revised thoughts to gain momentum.
Not to mention, OPPO has a lost of traction during past one year — due to things we have mentioned above– and it will have to do thrice the effort to revive the brand name, trust and ultimately the market share in Pakistani market.