OnePlus is India’s No 1 premium phone brand. It is also, in a sense, India’s home brand, or at least a phone brand that is increasingly at home in India.
Consider this: The company is investing Rs 1,000 crore in India (this includes a brand new R&D centre in Hyderabad) in the next 3 years. It is set to launch one of its biggest products ever — OnePlus TV — and it is doing the global launch in India. It is already beginning to expand manufacturing in India, and is even considering exporting phones from here. It has built an offline retail network in India which it has not done anywhere else. It has hundreds of thousands of devoted fans. And lastly, but importantly, it’s having fun while doing all this in India, something evident from the upcoming OnePlus Music Festival that will see Katy Perry singing for OnePlus fans here.
You can say that OnePlus is at home in India even if on paper the headquarters for the company remains outside.
This also means that OnePlus has seemingly made India its priority market. The company’s CEO Pete Lau is often here, talking to business partners, journalists and, most importantly, the OnePlus community in one way or another. A few days ago, he was in Hyderabad, talking about a new R&D centre that OnePlus has established. The R&D centre will get several key divisions, including the camera lab which will be the second for the company outside Taiwan.
At the inaugural event, OnePlus said that it wanted to make its products more relevant for the Indian consumers as well as utilise Indian talent for designing its global products. Hence, the Indian R&D centre will work on the Oxygen OS, which is the key to all OnePlus phones, while also having dedicated labs for camera and AI development. In addition, OnePlus will also develop 5G devices and technology for global markets in India.
Fans from 2014
For OnePlus, it all started even before the company launched a phone here. In 2014, when it came out with the OnePlus 1, even though the phone wasn’t available in India, it was so popular here that thousands of people were ordering it through global channels and were importing it. The enthusiasm of consumers who wanted a OnePlus phone was the main reason why the company decided to come here. Since entering the Indian market, it hasn’t looked back.
Now, OnePlus wants to build on what it has achieved. The prime example of that is going to be the OnePlus TV which is set to be launched in late September. When this 55-inch premium TV (much awaited considering that OnePlus is promising flagship-killer tag for it) launches here, this will be a global first. Even in China and Europe, the OnePlus TV will be launched only after it has been shown in India, possibly in October.
Another India exclusive from OnePlus in the coming days is going to be the OnePlus Music Fest in Mumbai on November 16. This is the first time OnePlus is hosting a music fest anywhere in the world, and it is doing so in India. The music fest will be hosting Katy Perry. “We are super excited that Katy Perry will be starring in our first-ever OnePlus Music Festival in India! We decided to host this festival to share our passion for music with our community, who are at the heart of everything we do. With Katy on board, this is sure to be a one of a kind experience,” said Carl Pei, Co-founder, OnePlus.
The initiative is a sort of community building exercise for OnePlus. After entering the country, OnePlus has not only received love from its fans, it has also given some back. The music fest is one such instance. Then there are pop-up events where OnePlus fans gather to touch, see, and if they want, buy the latest OnePlus products. There are invites to fans to attend launch events where they get OnePlus goodies, the total value of which usually exceeds the money they pay for tickets to these events. There is free coffee for OnePlus users in select service centre while they wait for executives to fix their phones. All of that kind of makes OnePlus a more Indian brand then most Indian brands.
But the most significant investment OnePlus has done in its bid to ensure that it is at home in India is it’s — for now — India-specific offline retail channel. The company has invested crores of rupees in building this channel. India is the only country where OnePlus reaches out to its customers through offline retail, probably because it understands that people sometimes need to touch and see products before buying. The company has a couple of OnePlus exclusive stores in metro cities and along with partner stores, the tally reaches to 1,500 stores at the moment.
The numbers matter. And OnePlus gets good numbers nowadays. Market research firms like CounterPoint highlights its growing market share. But more than the numbers, the success for OnePlus also seemingly lies in the way it has associated with India. It came gingerly here, not sure if Indian consumers will entirely accept the kind of premium products that it sells. But Indian consumers have not only accepted superbly-priced OnePlus premium products, they have also encouraged the company to make India its priority market. In 2019, OnePlus seems to have done exactly that.