Price war hots up Indian smartphone market

Abhishek Law Kolkata | Updated on March 12, 2018

Manufacturers are cutting prices, localising offerings to grab market share

Rising demand and stiff competition from global players have led Indian smartphone makers to cut prices. This has led to a new round of price-war among MNC phone makers.

In the two quarters gone by this fiscal Indian vendors such as Micromax, Karbonn and Intex have launched new smartphones with price-points varying upwards Rs 5,000. Other players too are likely to come up with smartphone offerings later in the year.

“Undoubtedly there is a price war brewing in the Indian-handset market, especially, in the smartphone segment. Such competition is good but there has to be a value for money offering,” Deepak Mehrotra, CEO, Micromax, told Business Line.

Aggressive Branding

Known for its aggressive branding, Micromax has taken on Korean-major Samsung through its recent “Why why?” advertisement campaign.

“Our ‘why why’ campaign says we are a serious player in the smartphone segment and compete directly with some of the MNCs. The advertisement has been popular and we are witnessing good traction of our handsets,” Mehrotra adds.

According to Kunal Bajaj, an independent consultant, aggressive branding of handsets should help Indian vendors especially with key USPs such as dual-sim, built-in chat platforms becoming popular across vendors now – both Indian and MNCs.

“Innovation has to be the key in smartphones. The Indian vendors were able to compete with MNCs on innovations like dual-sim enabled handsets and so on. Now aggressive branding has to be there along with localisation. Price alone cannot be a determining factor,” Bajaj adds. Karbonn too has come out with its own television commercial “Karbonn Smart Brings Karbonn A7 for all speed lovers...,” focussing on its new smartphone. The phone’s USP lies in a better processor, higher resolution enabled camera amongst others.


According to Shashin Devsare, executive director, Karbonn Mobiles, the company will spend nearly Rs 120 crore (or 60 per cent of its marketing budget of Rs 200 crore) in marketing its smartphone portfolio. From the existing seven models, the portfolio will be ramped up to 20 handsets soon.

“Bulk of our marketing spends will be on the smartphones which we will place in A and B cities. However, we will continue to ramp the feature phone segment,” Devsare adds.

Sandip Biswas, director, Deloitte in India, maintains that the mobile market is categorised into the serious buyer type, who will opt for the higher-end brand. The second type of buyer will go for the lesser-priced similar looking offerings. “It is unlikely for people to swap preferences,” he adds.

Another recent entrant, Intex – primarily an IT peripherals player – is looking to tap the bottom of the pyramid. The company officials maintain that primary focus will be on tier II and III cities where the company has a strong distribution network.

“We are looking towards the replacement market especially for those having a budget of nearly Rs 4,500 to Rs 5,000,” Sanjay Kumar, GM- Mobile Business, Intex Technologies said. Accordingly, the smartphone portfolio will be ramped up.

Typically, the company spends around Rs 50-60 lakh a month on marketing.

“Currently, we are concentrating on below the line (niche) marketing. We will look for television commercials once we establish our products in the market.” he added.


Published on October 16, 2012

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