Our vision at OnePlus is to build a truly connected ecosystem: Siddhant Narayan
Siddhant Narayan joined OnePlus India in December 2019. In 2020, the company launched the 8 Series, the Y and U TV series, the OnePlus Nord and the OnePlus Buds during the Lockdown.
In conversation with Adgully, Siddhant Narayan, Head of Marketing - India, OnePlus, speaks about how the company is innovating in a post COVID-19 world with their product strategy and digital campaigns.
How did you realign your marketing strategy once COVID-19 struck?
OnePlus has always been a digital-first brand and that has served as an advantage as we grew and evolved through the years. The new norms have led to a spike in content consumption online, so there has been a natural lean towards digital platforms with more people spending their time on the web and on social media. We are taking the time to research, understand and analyse the patterns in consumption and identify relevant channels such as search, social media, or email, in order to effectively communicate with our target audience.
As a brand with close ties to our user community, it has been our main priority to remain closely connected with them during this time.
While virtual product launches are the new norm, we want to maintain our tradition of giving a more hands-on experience of newly launched products to our consumers. Augmented reality has played a huge role in this endeavour. Post the OnePlus 8 series 5G launch in April, users could unbox the new devices and even choose the colour of the device via innovative customised AR filters on Instagram. OnePlus Nord is the first smartphone to be launched in a worldwide augmented reality event. Once the launch event ended, users could even experience the new phone using invitations that were specially created for this purpose. Even now, users can relive the OnePlus Nord launch event by downloading the OnePlus Nord AR App on Google Play Store and App Store. While we gave our users a chance to experience our smartphones from the comfort of their homes, we took it one step further for the newly launched OnePlus TVs. Users interested in the OnePlus TVs can not only check out the TVs, but also see how the TV would fit in their homes. So, if our users cannot come to us, we are looking at innovative ways to come to them.
Another great example of community engagement during this period is the OnePlus Domin8, a unique PUBG Mobile tournament that allowed our users to virtually interact with pro-gamers and Indian cricketers while competing in a one-of-a-kind exhibition match series. For our Red Cable Club (RCC) members, we introduced the ‘Summer of OnePlus’ campaign, which gave them access to special activities and first-hand news on sales announcements, exclusive updates, contests and much more.
Through the above-mentioned initiatives and even with simple engaging campaigns like #IndoorsShotonOnePlus, we hope to keep our users engaged and strive to provide them new experiences.
Before your 8 Series, the previous generations were perceived as flagship killers. Now the 8 Series is a flagship smartphone while the Nord has emerged as your new flagship killer. What’s your strategy? How would you differentiate between the target consumer for the 8 Series and the Nord?
As a growing brand, we aim to expand our product portfolio and create a seamlessly connected accessible ecosystem that enables more users to access the OnePlus experience across various price points. The OnePlus Nord is in line with this strategy and has a different positioning strategy and consumer set from our flagship series.
Our flagship OnePlus 8 Series 5G is targeted towards the premium and ultra-premium smartphone market. The users who purchase these devices are looking for the best of technology that is smooth, powerful, and can keep up with their on-the-go hyper-tasking lifestyles.
On the other hand, OnePlus Nord is targeted towards OnePlus enthusiasts and value shoppers who are not as focused on specifications and are looking for a smartphone that fulfills their essential daily needs. Based on our research, we focused on providing a flagship level camera setup, smooth performance, and bringing the OnePlus quality to the Nord.
In terms of marketing, both product lines have different marketing approaches and still stay true to OnePlus’ overall brand identity. With the Nord, the tonality is slightly more young, fresh and edgier. It continues to extend the brand’s authenticity and honesty by giving OnePlus enthusiasts an honest look through building the product.
OnePlus launch events are highly anticipated by fans. This year, you had to adapt to an AR smartphone launch? How well did it serve the brand?
In terms of launch events, OnePlus in the past few years has challenged industry norms and held the world’s first product launch entirely in VR for the OnePlus 2, as well as the world’s first product launch purchase experience in VR with the OnePlus 3. The brand continued its legacy by debuting OnePlus Nord in the world’s first AR smartphone launch. This new format not only allowed OnePlus to unveil Nord in a truly unprecedented manner, but also leveraged AR technology that allows users to experience the product from the safety of their homes. As part of this innovative launch, we also designed a special invitation that gave users a hands-on experience of the OnePlus Nord through AR technology. The launch was a success with over 620,000 concurrent views and 6 million total views. Our online pop up event saw over 30,000 participants.
As a digital-first brand, we will continue to engage with our user community online and are constantly exploring avenues that allow us to innovate and create more meaningful experiences for them.
After the launch of OnePlus 8 and its variants, what was the reception to Nord by Indians?
We are excited about the response we have received for the OnePlus 8 series as well as the recently launched Nord. Targeted towards the premium and ultra-premium smartphone market, where users opt for devices with the best of technology, the launch of 8 series helped OnePlus claim the top spot in India’s premium smartphone segment Q2 of 2020.
The Nord, on the other hand, targets OnePlus enthusiasts and value shoppers who are not as focused on specs, but prefer a smartphone that fulfills their essential daily needs. Living up to this promise, the Nord continues to receive extremely positive feedback from not just our community members, but also from users, outside our customer base.
You have also launched the OnePlus Buds. What’s the potential you see in this space (earphones market)?
At OnePlus, we are consistently working towards the seamless integration of products and services with an aim to bring a burdenless experience across mobile connectivity for people on the go.
With a rapid growth in smartphones fueling content consumption on the go, advancements in health and fitness tracking among other features, we observed that the earphones category, particularly TWS, was emerging as a big constituent in the accessories segment. Basis the counterpoint report in 2019, the Indian TWS market witnessed an exponential growth of 700 per cent during the year, becoming the fastest growing market in the wearables segment.
Addressing the demand for this from our user community and tapping into the opportunity to offer a premium audio experience at an accessible price point, we launched the OnePlus Buds last month. Priced at Rs 4,990, the buds come equipped with a unique noise cancellation algorithm and a 30-hour music playback time, making it a perfect choice for all music lovers who are looking for the right combination of great sound quality, seamless connectivity, and easy-to-use experience.
At OnePlus, we identified the huge potential that lies in bringing to users a premium audio experience back in 2015, when we first entered the headphones market. Since then, we have continued to elevate our offerings and the launch of OnePlus Buds marks a significant milestone for us and truly lives up to the brand’s promise of a burden less experience. With earphones becoming a part of modern lifestyle across age groups, we anticipate the demand to further rise in the coming months.
Since the launch of the OnePlus TV, have you had to shift your brand strategy to be perceived as an electronics company rather than a smartphone OEM?
As a leading global technology brand, our vision at OnePlus is to build a truly connected ecosystem, wherein the four aspects of our life – the home, the office, the car and the self (wearables) – are interconnected and interact with each other seamlessly. In line with our revamped brand strategy announced early this year, our aim is to build a premium accessible ecosystem by diversifying into new product categories and price points and the launch of the Y and U series was our first step in this direction. The series through its best in class display, design, seamless interactions with immersive content consumption provides users a premium experience at an accessible price point. Similarly, the recently launched Nord comes packed with a very capable 5G chipset from Qualcomm and a new and improved camera setup, which is a rarity at its price segment. Further supported by a dual selfie camera, and powerful hardware backed by the industry preferred OxygenOS, the OnePlus Nord makes it best in its class.
Even as we continue to grow and develop as a brand, our focus to provide more users a premium OnePlus experience will always remain at the heart of everything we do.
The common associations with the OnePlus smartphone were speed, affordability and premium features. What associations are you trying to create with your Smart TVs?
As mentioned earlier, at OnePlus, our vision is to build a truly connected ecosystem and the launch of the smart TVs in 2019 was the brand’s first step towards creating this connected experience, starting with the ‘connected home’.
Just like our phones, our range of TVs offer a premium experience and are a medium for seamless interaction, communication and immersive content consumption. As Pete Lau, our Founder and CEO, our goal at OnePlus is to set the standard for future smart TV products, because we focus on every last detail. For us, designing a TV is about more than creating a high-quality display and we truly believe that TV will not only become the center of our smart home, but also the center of our daily smart social hub.