LG plans a comeback in India with cheap smartphones under ₹15,000
It wouldn’t be incorrect to say that the Indian smartphone market has been shaped by the likes of Chinese OEMs in the last half-decade. OEMs like Xiaomi, OPPO, and Vivo have established themselves as household names. While OPPO and Vivo have managed to ride upon high marketing and visibility, Xiaomi takes pride in its high-value proposition which has allowed it to dominate the sub-₹15,000 (sub-$200) segment in the Indian market. Now, LG is planning to capitalize on the prevailing anti-China sentiments in India and make a comeback in the sub-₹15,000 market.
To provide some context, there are political tensions between India and China emerging due to activities at the border between the two countries. While attempts are being made to de-escalate the situation, the Government of India did ban access to 59 popular Chinese apps like TikTok and Mi Community in the country by way of an interim order. There has been a wave of anti-China sentiment in the country, especially on platforms that allow vocal discussions, with calls to boycott Chinese brands across all product segments in favor of alternatives from India or other regions.
In an interview with Economic Times, Mr. Advait Vaidya, Business Head of Mobile Communications at LG Electronics mentions that LG is sensing a “window of opportunity” in the Indian market, and plans to utilize it to make a comeback in the smartphone market by focussing on the popular <₹15,000 segment. Not just this, LG is also hoping to scale up local manufacturing and assembly by almost 15 times by the festival of Diwali and expand its distribution. It also plans to apply for the production-linked incentive scheme to help it scale up local production. The company has already seen a ten times increase in sales of smartphones in the past two months, so the renewed focus comes from this newfound success.
LG iterates that this strategy is not merely based on short-term anti-China sentiments. But it certainly feels that this is a good opportunity to “level up”. The company had released its W-series smartphones last year — these smartphones were made exclusively for India in the country itself and were said to not be sold outside — and these smartphones continue to see good reception (but in the report, LG does concede that these smartphones were exported to Middle East and Africa)
For 2020 in India, LG plans to launch six smartphones starting from ₹10,000 all the way up to the flagship segment — though most of the demand is said to be concentrated in the initial segments because of COVID-19’s impact on consumer spending. Apart from ramping up distribution across online and offline channels, LG will also be partnering with enterprise mobility partners to offer their phones to the enterprise segment as well. The company also plans to enter the tablet market in India by the end of the year to serve the e-learning needs of the consumers.
Competition is certainly appreciated in all forms, and LG does have a strong background to be a decent contender. Only time will tell how their bets in the Indian market pay off.
Source: Economic Times