Samsung pips Xiaomi to become India’s top smartphone brand

Samsung India
An indian mobile seller presenting Samsung latest model to the camera for sale at local road shop distribution. Photo by Stockseller |

Korea’s Samsung has managed to reclaim its lost crown in India’s smartphone market in July-August period of 2020 on the back of an aggressive e-commerce strategy and frequent handset launches. Analysts believe that ongoing anti-China sentiments due to tensions at the Himalayan border have also helped the Korean brand to increase its market share. 

According to Counterpoint Research, Samsung’s July market share stood at 24%, which further increased to 25% in August month of 2020. Samsung’s August market share is its highest market share since 2018.

Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi, which has been leading the smartphone market in India since 2018, saw its share declined from 22% in July to 21% in August. Realme, another fast-growing smartphone brand, also saw its market share decline from 15% to 13% in August month.

Analysts at Counterpoint said that Samsung managed to rebound in July and August as India eased the lockdown norms across the country. The Korean company was quickest among all brands to restart its local factories due to its diversified supply chain even as its Chinese rivals struggled and were forced to import fresh stocks from China and Vietnam to fulfil the pent-up demand in the country.

Unavailability of fresh stocks of smartphones from Chinese brands offered an opportunity to Samsung, which quickly brought new models and cleared existing inventory through both offline and online retail channels. It has launched as many as six new smartphones since July 2020 across various price points. 

“Many brands faced supply issues in the post-lockdown period. Major reasons for supply issues were reduced production levels due to low manpower, components delivery delay due to customs, etc,” Counterpoint’s analyst Prachir Singh was quoted as saying. 

The Korean brand has adopted an aggressive approach which was primarily focused on the online channels as people were cautious about visiting offline stores to due the Pandemic. This change in strategy was surprising for market watchers since Samsung has been perceived as an offline-focused brand having created India’s largest offline retail network. 

Since June, Samsung brought online-exclusive devices, including “India-first” models which helped it gain quick market share. Additionally, the company specifically focused on entry to the mid-price segment (sub $200), which saw a huge jump after the lockdown eased due to student’s online classes and work from home needs of professionals. 

“To compete with the increasing share of Chinese players like Xiaomi and Vivo in the mid-budget segment, Samsung came up with the M-series which was launched as an online exclusive series. The series is doing quite well and helped Samsung is continuously gaining share in online channels,” Singh told the Economic Times.

Samsung’s success in India in line with its global performance. It took the top spot in the global smartphone market in August, accounting for 22% of the market share. 

In April, Samsung lost the top spot to China’s Huawei due to sharp declines in its major markets of India and Europe. 

After achieving its highest global share of 21% in April, Huawei’s market share is expected to fall further in the future due to US trade sanctions, Counterpoint said.

“Geopolitical policies and political affairs among nations are affecting the smartphone market in many ways. There will be heightened marketing activity to seize opportunities in these regions and segments. As a result, the concentration of top players in the smartphone market will be much stronger. We see players like Samsung, Apple, Xiaomi and OPPO benefiting the most,”  research Analyst Minsoo Kang said in a Counterpoint’s latest report. 


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