Chinese brand Vivo sets sights on exports as domestic smartphone sales growth slows

PUBLISHED : Friday, 20 October, 2017, 8:33pm
UPDATED : Monday, 20 November, 2017, 2:52pm

Vivo, the Chinese technology company that has come from nowhere to become the world’s fifth-largest smartphone brand, is setting its sights on fresh markets outside of mainland China, where its low-price Android handsets can compete well against pricier devices from Apple and Samsung Electronics.

Based in Dongguan city in Guangdong province, Vivo said it aims to make a push into Hong Kong after the launch of its X20 Android smartphone on Friday. It added that Singapore, Taiwan, Russia and Africa are the other markets on its expansion plan.

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“Since our first entry into the international markets in 2014, we have dedicated [ourselves] to understanding the needs of consumers through in-depth research to bring innovative and stylish products that meet their lifestyle and needs,” Vivo senior vice-president Alex Feng said.

Vivo and its sibling smartphone brand Oppo, which are both controlled by 22-year-old Chinese consumer electronics company BBK Electronics, are stepping up their forays abroad as their handset sales continued to grow modestly in the world’s largest smartphone market, according to research firm Counterpoint. 

The two brands are known for their strong offline strategy, where sales are conducted primarily via thousands of retailers, who help manage the relationship with customers and promote the brands to engender loyalty. It enabled Vivo and Oppo to reach consumers in so-called low-tier Chinese cities and the rural areas, where many consumers are still not accustomed to placing online orders for electronic devices.

That strategy has worked successfully as Vivo and Oppo have surpassed sales of domestic rival Xiaomi, which was once the most popular smartphone brand in China. 

Vivo currently sells smartphones in Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam, as well as India, Nepal and Pakistan. It is the third-most popular handset brand in India, with a 13 per cent share of the world's second-largest smartphone market.

On top of offering premium smartphone specifications at a price tag lower than those of flagship devices from Apple and Samsung, Vivo devices are also known for their fast-charging capabilities and long battery life.