One brand that’s defying the global smartphone market slowdown: realme shows 800% growth in 3Q 2019

As our 2019Q3 numbers are being finalized we noticed one brand standing out in the global smartphone slowdown. Overall market size has been shrinking showing negative growth for 7 consecutive quarters. Most of the brands have also been experiencing negative growth. However there are a handful of brands like Xiaomi, Tecno showing positive growth. Among them there was one brand that really stood out. It was realme (spelled with all small cap). This rising brand was established on May 2018 so it’s just a year old. But it has become the fastest growing smartphone brand. It registered over 800% annual growth in Q3 2019. We think it shipped over 10 million smartphones and came in 7th place in the global smartphone market for the first time.

India and Indonesia are the most important markets for realme, contributing to more than 80% of its shipments. In India, realme ranked 4th in the smartphone market with 16% share, its highest market share ever, in Q3 2019. Its aggressive online channel strategy helped it achieve this milestone. It was the number one online brand on Flipkart in Q3 2019 and second in the overall online market.

In Indonesia, realme was the fastest brand to reach one million units in Q3 2019 driven by strong sales of realme C2 and realme 3. It is now looking to expand its position in other South East Asian(SEA) markets as well. The brand has expanded rapidly across more than 20 countries.

The core strength of the brand lies in its fast execution. realme has been quick to bring premium features to the budget segment and mass market. For instance, it was among the first few brands to bring features such as quad-cam, 64MP rear camera, water-drop design, pop-up selfie, within the $100-$250 price band. This has resonated well especially among young consumers seeking value for money.

Overall, strong word-of-mouth, social media campaigns and connecting with young consumers has helped the brand grow as well. When it comes to marketing it has focused more on events, such as college festivals, that involve one-to-one connection with its core customers. It has stayed away from big budget marketing events that involve huge marketing spends.

The strong performance of realme shows there still is growth in the market despite the several quarters of negative growth in the global smartphone market. Targeting the right geographical markets, channels and consumers seems to be the winning recipe. The value for money proposition is also powerful in times of stagnant economic growth globally.

Karn is a Senior Analyst at Counterpoint Technology Market Research, based in Gurgaon. He currently handles Global Devices and Ecosystems, Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality research. Karn has over 8 years of experience in the mobile device ecosystem space. He has a degree in Electronics and Communication.

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