OPPO to bring 5G technology to Pakistan soon
George Long is CEO of OPPO Pakistan, AED. Mr. Long has been with OPPO since 2002. Prior to being appointed as the CEO of OPPO Pakistan in 2015, he was the General Manager of OPPO branch in Xinjiang Province from 2013 to 2015.
As CEO, Mr Long has been instrumental in OPPO’s increasing market share and soaring sales in Pakistan. He has been at the forefront of introducing OPPO corporate values and leading the team to new heights of success.
Following are the edited transcripts of the interview of Mr. George Long with BR Research:
BR Research: What is OPPO's USP?
George Long: As exploration and innovation are at the heart of OPPO’s DNA, the brand is constantly innovating, exploring new opportunities, and pushing boundaries to deliver the best experience to its users. We aim to let people enjoy the technological artistry for which we are constantly creating pioneering products that never fail to inspire or excite. For the last few years, OPPO has been focused on producing revolutionary mobile photography technology.
OPPO successfully began the era of selfie beautification and was one of the first brands to launch the pop-up camera, the Ultra HD feature, and 5x/10x Dual Camera Zoom technology. One such major success is the recently launched Find X2 Pro with ground-breaking features such as Qualcomm Snapdragon 865, most powerful Ultra Vision Camera System, ColorOS 7.1, 120Hz QHD+ Ultra Vision Screen, SuperVOOC 2.0 flash charging technology and many more enhanced features. Along the way, OPPO has maintained its users-centric and it believes in elevating life through technological artistry.
BRR: What is OPPO’s market share globally and in Pakistan?
GL: We are one of the top five companies in worldwide mobile shipments. Global smartphone shipments saw a major change over the past few months.
Despite the challenges in the total market size for smartphones in Pakistan, OPPO continued to reinforce its commitment to the Pakistani market and focus on increased localization in its strategy to take the top position in this market. OPPO is aiming for a stronger brand presence across Pakistan to further its brands’ strength in the mobile market across all segments.
BRR: How do you localize your marketing strategy?
GL: The fundamental of OPPO’s cultural cooperation and value is Benfen, which provides us with the criterion to do the right thing. The right thing in this reference is to provide our customers value for their money. OPPO is a very focused and simple brand that concentrates its energies and resources on building unforgettable experiences for its users, especially the millennials. The core of our marketing strategy remains the same globally.
Meanwhile, we channel our efforts in localization to dig out what our Pakistani customers need. OPPO’s collaboration with PSL, Ramadan Campaign, “INtertainment” live concert under lockdown and OPPO F15 #HowFastCanYouBe campaign on TikTok are few such examples of OPPO putting efforts together to provide the best to the people of Pakistan keeping in mind the cultural values and norms of the nation. Another aspect of our localization policy is onboarding local brand ambassadors. Right from partnering with a Iqra Aziz and now with Sheheryar Munawar, OPPO ties up with only those who show a similar passion for perfection like the brand and in the process have accommodated different types of youth. OPPO also launched the Sheheryar Munawar limited edition smartphone, Reno 2F catering specific needs of the audience.
We feel it is sustainable till we partner with people that share the same mindset as us, and their values and ideas resonate with our brand.
BRR: How has the ongoing pandemic affected the demand of smartphones and feature phones globally How have the sales responded in the last 4-5 months in Pakistan?
GL: The smartphone market has indeed been greatly affected by the pandemic. The severity of the situation currently is affecting both demand and supply. Due to the pandemic, many businesses and organizations have been forced to minimize their operations and the smartphone industry is not an exception. The import of parts has ceased, for the time being, decreasing the production rate and shifting focus on rationalizing costs.
As the quarter ended, and the pandemic took over, lockdowns of varying severity were imposed, and the pendulum of disruption started to shift from supply to demands. The coronavirus pandemic that is wreaking havoc across the globe has badly hit the mobile phone's business in Pakistan. Pakistan’s mobile business activities are likely to stay in the red zone amid coronavirus fears. Over millions of people associated with smartphones trade is facing numerous troubles having a great impact on mobile phone users as well.
BRR: How has OPPO performed during the crisis globally and what has been your strategy in Pakistan during the ongoing crisis? What has been your status on launches?
GL: OPPO has always been committed to its audiences throughout the world and is constantly evolving with the changing circumstances. Globally the economic condition is not the same and brands are being affected by the major shift.
We have carefully revised our marketing strategies in Pakistan after the evaluation of the current market desires and needs. We believe that the show must go on, and for that, we have shifted our focus to digital mediums. To tackle the situation and make people’s life easier, OPPO worked on creating a balance between online and offline purchase experience. OPPO smartphones are already available on Daraz, and the brand has started online booking platform as well.
Under pandemic, OPPO Pakistan has not halted our launch strategies but have taken a new approach keeping the current circumstances in view. Our first launch of the year was of Reno 3 series in March, which was shifted to an online launch done by our brand ambassador Sheheryar Munawar. With that, we became the pioneer of the first online smartphone launch in the country.
We also successfully launched the OPPO Find X2 Pro and OPPO F15, two different range smartphones, and so far, the response has been amazing. As TikTok is the latest and greatest social media platform with Gen Z and millennial users, we decided to capitalize on it for the launch of OPPO F15 which has received 240.5M+ views so far. We are proud of the fact that our customers believe in us and are dedicated to our products, which is a success in itself.
BRR: The Government of Pakistan has recently launched a smartphone or mobile manufacturing policy. Do you have any plans of manufacturing in Pakistan?
GL: We deeply appreciate the government's initiative for approving a set smartphone manufacturing policy to enable brands to manufacture locally. The government’s new policy does have potential to give a boost to local production, as it would lead to localisation of mobile phones’ parts in a phased manner. This will fill the vacuum between demand and supply with import restrictions imposed due to the pandemic.
Keeping in view the current circumstances and the unfavourable business environment, manufacturing locally might not be in the pipeline this year, but we plan on working on it in the future. OPPO Pakistan is dedicated to local market and shall fulfil its commitment to local economics and market in the near future.
BRR: How can demand-side dynamics, pricing, marketing, and distribution of smartphones keep up with the emerging COVID-19 challenges?
GL: With demand being volatile right now, it has formed various pricing challenges for many brands. Brands that focus on long-term value instead of focusing on short-term gains are better positioned to meet them. Companies need to sustain value to both survive the crisis and fulfil the needs of the users.
OPPO has always been committed to its users in terms of corporate social responsibility, brand, and product aspects. OPPO has donated 6.2 million to Prime Minister COVID-19 Relief Fund. OPPO has always been providing high-end features in market competitive prices and for the ease of its customers has started online retail of smartphones through OPPO’s website and Daraz. The brand aims to help the Pakistani economy flourish both locally and globally and for the future, the brand will continue to explore new technological artistry to enhance its user’s lifestyle.
BRR: PTA has been maintaining a Device Identification, Registration, and Blocking System, which was supposed to curb smartphone smuggling. Has it helped the formal sector?
GL: PTA has shown immense maturity by collaborating with FBR in providing amnesty to all the smartphones that have been operational on the mobile network and have made identification of mobile phone status and its registration user-friendly. This new initiative has yielded dividends by guarding the consumer rights, wiping the market of illegal devices and also increasing the much-required tax revenues for the country. To avoid inconvenience caused by fraudulent practices, consumers should only purchase PTA approved smartphones and verify before purchase.
BRR: What are OPPO’s plans for Pakistan for the next 4-5 months?
GL: The smartphone industry is rapidly evolving with changing consumer and technology demands. To target a bigger base, we have adopted a 360-degree integrated marketing communications approach. We make sure to be present on all platforms for present and future launches that our target audience will be interested in. OPPO has developed an integrated ecosystem and is planning to launch more high-end smartphones, watches, and headsets enabling users to live a smart life. Soon, the brand will also be touching base for bringing the most awaited 5G technology to Pakistan in addition to other revolutionary breakthroughs. Soon, we have two launches planned for Reno 4 Series and F17 Series launch and are very excited to showcase it to our users.