Chinese smartphone brand Vivo counts on World Cup to boost its slowing sales 

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 23 May, 2018, 2:25pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 23 May, 2018, 9:01pm

China’s Vivo, the official smartphone sponsor of the 2018 Fifa World Cup in Russia, is pinning its hopes on the upcoming global event to boost sales as the brand faces mounting pressure from competitors amid a saturated domestic market.

The company unveiled a Fifa World Cup limited edition smartphone targeted at both tech-savvy users and football fans in Beijing on Tuesday, where it officially kicked off its global marketing campaign for the World Cup.

Shenzhen-based Vivo signed a six-year sponsorship agreement with Fifa in May last year, which includes consecutive sponsorship of the Fifa World Cups in 2018 and 2022. It did not reveal how much it paid for the sponsorship deal.

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The agreement includes the right to conduct special marketing activities such as this year’s Vivo Super FAN Photographer campaign, which gives fans from over 17 markets unprecedented access during pre-match player warm-ups for the World Cup, Michael Chang, Vivo’s brand director of international business, said in an emailed reply to questions.

“Our sponsorship will help the Vivo brand reach more young people and sports fans globally,” he said, adding that the strategy has also contributed to the brand’s global expansion.

Vivo’s World Cup special edition is based on its flagship X21 model, powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 processor and with 6GB of RAM. The phone features Vivo’s display-based fingerprint scanning, which has so far been available only in the Chinese market. The special edition comes with a price tag of 3,698 yuan (US$580), 100 yuan more than its X21 model. 

The company also introduced a Sapphire blue version of the Vivo V9 World Cup edition for the global market. 

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Vivo’s focus on the upcoming World Cup comes amid a slowdown in the Chinese smartphone market. The third-largest smartphone vendor in China, Vivo was the only major Chinese brand to experience a decline in domestic shipments last year, down 0.8 per cent year on year against the backdrop of an overall 4.9 per cent decrease in the mainland market, according to research firm IDC.

Huawei Technologies, Oppo and Xiaomi saw their 2017 domestic shipments expand by 18.6 per cent, 2.7 per cent and 32.6 per cent respectively, said IDC.

In the first quarter of this year Vivo’s market share in China fell to 15.5 per cent from 17 per cent in the same period last year, while the market share of Huawei, Oppo, Xiaomi and Apple all increased in the first three months of 2018 compared with a year earlier, according to data released in April by Counterpoint.

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Vivo currently owns brick and mortar retail stores in 373 overseas cities, and has more than two hundred million users, according to the company.

“Now that the 2018 World Cup is coming, we look forward to creating more unforgettable memories for people all over the world together,” Franck Guignery, head of sales at Fifa, said in a press release.

The 2018 event will be the 21st Fifa World Cup, a quadrennial international football tournament contested by the men’s national teams of the member associations of Fifa. It is scheduled to take place in Russia from June 14 to July 15.