Dubai: realme is the youngest smartphone brand to be among the Top 6 globally as well as the No. 5 Android Smartphone Brand globally and the youngest brand to achieve 100 million sales globally within 37 months. realme has emerged as an industry leader and was the only brand among the top five players to experience YoY growth (40%) in Q1 2022 (Counterpoint Research). realme achieved these milestones while surpassing 41 smartphone brands in a highly competitive industry, in just four years.
The Brew managing editor, Shaneer N Sididqui interviewed Madhav Sheth, CEO, realme India, VP, realme, and President, realme International Business Group about his plans to drive the brand further towards the pole position. He also is heading the new initiative called TechLife, where realme will help other budding brands with similar dreams to make more versatile technology products.
Q1: Middle East Market falls under an elite customer category. What is realme strategy for the Middle East Market in general and for UAE in focus?
Our Founder and CEO Sky Li has just released a letter on his Twitter account, pointing out our recent global strategy in market cultivation, “Simply Better” or “craftsmanship” strategy, and e-commerce strategy, which means more local-oriented events and products. This is a commitment to our existing markets.
These are all aligned with our activities and plans in UAE, we want to commit further to the local market, by listening to the needs of UAE consumers and bringing here the products that fit their needs. For example, we are bringing our first tablet product here to UAE this month, which we believe meets the lifestyle of consumers studying and working here.
Meanwhile, we are also seeking more in-depth and long-term cooperation with local e-commerce platforms, we are experimenting to bring a few product lines that would be exclusive to only e-commerce platforms, doing so would allow us to provide more attractive prices to the consumers. We will be taking part in the Back-to-School promotion on Noon, where we will offer a very decent discount on our first tablet product in the market by believing that it would provide value to consumers who are shopping for the school season.
With our “craftsmanship” strategy, our R&D investment increased by 58% year-on-year, focusing on improving technology innovation. We are bringing our most premium flagship model ever GT 2 Pro to the UAE market in September knowing that the ME market has an elite customer category. The phone features a top-notch snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor, the first 2K AMOLED flat display, and first150° ultra-wide camera. The consumers in ME can expect to have a distinctive and smooth experience in photography, game playing, and video streaming, as well as be given a special eco-friendly option with an unprecedented bio-based polymer design.
Q2: What is your current market share in the middle east? What is your target growth for the coming years? We have seen an amazing presence of realme in the middle east market in 2018-2020, what is new for 2022-2023?
Indeed, we have experienced rapid growth in the previous years, in 2021 Q4 our annual growth rate in the UAE market was 858%, and our unit share ranked 4th among top smartphone vendors according to data from Canalys.
This year, we have clocked a 58 percent year-on-year growth in the first half of 2022 in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and affirmed our commitment to grow the regional market as part of a market cultivation strategy.
With our market cultivation strategy, we are aiming to build a core of fifteen 1-million shipment markets globally over the next three years. We can see that our markets in the MENA have rapid growth and the market such as Iraq is among our fifteen 1-million shipment markets to be achieved for the next three years, we are already ranked 4th among top smartphone vendors in Iraq for both Q1 and Q2 of 2022.
Q3: Who are your target customers in UAE and what strategy you are going to reach them?
Our brand and product welcome all consumers who are looking for trendsetting design and leap-forward performance products, as we embed our core belief “Dare to Leap” in all the actions that we take and the products that we build.
We study what our consumers are interested at, and we use a mix of channels to reach them, both online and offline through our retail channels.
Q4: Why realme? How your phones are different from others in its segment?
At realme, we scale innovation with trends. We are the brand of choice for consumers who seek tech and trends. As a part of our tech-decentralization initiative, we equip our products across price segments with the latest technology, for example, this year we launched our realme 9 Pro in UAE in May, which was the first 5G smartphone with Qualcomm snapdragon processor for sale under 1000 AED in the market. Not only does it have a powerful processor and equipped with 5G, but it also has an innovative Light Shift Design that can change color depending on lighting conditions, and realme is also the first smartphone brand to debut with the 9 Pro series this year’s Paris Fashion Show runway by collaborating with Danish designer brand Heliot Emil. Therefore, if you are looking for a powerful smartphone with a trendsetting design, realme is the right brand to go for.
Q5: The 5G traction that has started happening and a lot of the regions have actually accepted that transition, in more than 14 countries where 5G penetration is almost done. Consumers will eventually upgrade from 4G to 5G. How Realme is going to take advantage of this transaction in the mobile industry?
realme is the youngest among the world’s top 6 smartphone brands, we are conceived with 5G opportunities in mind. At the “Making 5G Global: Accessibility for All” 5G summit on June 3rd, 2021, we reaffirmed our commitment to become a “popularizer of 5G”, and to enable 100 million young consumers to use 5G smartphones within the next three years.
As a result of our efforts and commitment to popularizing 5G, we have landed a TOP 5 spot in terms of 5G smartphone shipments in 20 global markets and enhanced our position as an industry leader in democratizing 5G.
According to Counterpoint Research report, realme’s 5G shipments have grown the most among all major smartphone brands with a 165% YoY growth in the fourth quarter of 2021.
In our Founder and CEO Sky Li’s own words, “This reinforces our dedication to work towards our ambition of becoming the Democratizer of 5G. As an emerging tech brand, realme has always been committed to encouraging young users worldwide to experience the latest technology like 5G and will continue to deliver appealing and future-ready devices to global fans.”
To further the focus on popularizing 5G-enabled smartphones, we have lowered the ASP of our Number Series 5G devices from 270USD in Q1 2020 to under 200USD (9 5G) in Q1 2022, while simultaneously offering more advanced 5G smartphone options in premium flagship GT Series to meet more users’ needs.
Q6: Your new launch in the middle east is C35. Can you tell us about it?
Actually, our newest launch in the UAE market was realme Pad, we launched it on the 22nd of August with Noon’s back-to-school promotion. In September, we will launch our flagship model GT 2 Pro in the market.
As for realme C35, we would say it is the most stylish budget smartphone launched in 2022, it comes in Glowing Green and Glowing Black, a high-end right-angle bezel design with scratch-resistant frost border, a winner-hand-down when it comes to style.
At an ultra-thin 8.1mm and a weight of 189g – that is less than an iPhone 13 – C35 is a show stopper. The phone is also equipped with 50MP AI Triple camera, 5000mAh massive battery, and has received the TUV Rheinland reliability certification, meaning it has really good quality and durability in everyday use. It is now on offer at 599 AED compared to 679 AED at its original price.
Q7: Who is your target customer for C35 and What new is going to come for them?
realme C35 is the most stylish and premium-looking smartphone in the segment, so anyone who is looking for a stylish smartphone with durability, a good camera, long-stand battery for everyday use would find this model to be perfect for the need.
Q8: How C35 is going to differ from its competitor?
With realme C35 Glowing Silk Design, it builds a premium look and feels which can outstand easily at a budget price point. It comes equipped with best-in-class specs, such as an advanced 50MP AI Triple Camera, long-lasting 5000mAh battery, 18W Fast Charge, and so much more to give you superior value and performance.
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Q9: On a personal note, I can say, the visibility of realme as a brand in the UAE market is lacking, What is the company’s opinion on it, and any specific campaign can we see in the coming future for the UAE market?
We are aiming to increase our visibility by bringing more smartphone models and a mixed product portfolio to the market. From the entry-level C-series, the essential smartphones for all — the Number Series Phones, and also the innovation-focused flagship smartphones, the GT series.
Aside from bringing a comprehensive range of smartphone models to the UAE market, we also plan to launch various AIoT products in the market, such as realme PAD, realme Book and realme Air 3.
For us, bringing high-quality products to the market in accordance with our “craftsmanship” strategy to win over users’ preferences is more important than carrying out marketing campaigns alone. In our global market cultivation strategy, we aim to commit to long-term and healthy operation in our current markets, to set solid footings in the market with a healthy product portfolio.
Q10: For customers, how realme is supporting them in after-sale services and exchange offers?
After-sales service plays a pivotal role in strengthening the bond between our brand and customers. We work closely with our local distributor Axiom Telecom to ensure that after-sale needs are timely addressed. We also have our own after-sale service center established in UAE, to ensure quick resolutions to any after-sale issue, so consumers can shop worry-free.
We are also planning to offer extended benefits to our consumers in some of our future product launches, for example, extended warranty and screen care. When we launched realme 9 Pro series and realme 9i in Saudi Arabia this year in May, we offered our consumers six-month free screen care, the offer is actually still valid if you purchase the device from Saudi Arabia. We are planning to launch similar benefits to UAE market, which will be announced with the product launch, so stay tuned.