There are tens, probably more of smartphone brands out there. All of them are aiming for the same thing, and that is popularity and sales. The more people buy a certain brand, the more it attains more popularity, which in the end works to its advantage through the boost of its brand, and increased revenues.
However, the market is unforgiving. We have seen what happened to previously popular brands, including Nokia, HTC, Huawei, Motorola, Sony, and even the now-gone LG: the brands made some mistakes in their marketing and brand awareness programs, and when that happened, others swooped in and replaced them.
Chinese brands, in recent years, have been doing very well in emerging markets. Their strategy is really simple: offer more value for a reduced price. The approach undercuts market leaders, not for much, but still notable enough to force leading phone makers to adjust their strategies too.
realme, which has been in the Kenya market for quite for some time, arrived locally late when other brands were already established. It has, nonetheless, attempted to make a name for itself with multiple phone launches that are priced well for Kenyans. This approach has also been used by other BBK- and Transsion-affiliated smartphones in Kenya. The template has also been replicated in other emerging markets.
Word has it that realme will boost its annual research and development budget by 58 percent. This, realme says, will help it stabilize its business as it looks forward to shaping its long-term strategy.
The outcome is that realme will start shipping more quality phones to Kenya from 2023 and onward thanks to improved technological innovation. The same moves will, realme hopes, make the brand more attractive to young people.
“This means you can expect even more exceptional Number Series phones moving forward, as our Number Series is our “essential” product line, packing essential tech into a stylish package with an accessible price tag,” said realme Chief Executive Officer, Sky Li.
realme is one of the most recent offshoots from BBK Electronics, which also owns OPPO, vivo, IQOO and OnePlus. This is an impressive set of brands that compete with each other for market leadership. There are others too, including Xiaomi and its sub-brand Redmi that target to appeal to the same customer audience.
realme reports that it has sold more than 100 million smartphones since it started its operations four years ago. It is serving 61 markets. It also recorded a year-on-year growth of 548 percent in 2021.
realme notes that it will not expand to new markets in the next 18 months as the adoption of a unified global product line will reduce product launches by 35 percent in 2023.
Instead, it seeks to focus more on its China home turf, as well as India with millions of shipments. It will create an additional 15 markets with more shipments in the next three years.
“We call this new market focus our “Market Cultivation” strategy, which will place particular focus on our two 10-million shipment markets while working towards building a core of fifteen 1-million shipment markets,” said Li.
While annual global smartphone shipments fell by 11 percent to 311.2 million units in Q1 2022, realme was recording notable sales in Kenya and other markets on the continent.