New Delhi: Smartphone brands are planning to advance their product launch plans and intensify their marketing activity in the July-September quarter in the hope of capturing whatever pent-up demand there is, amidst fears that the crucial festive season around Diwali may be marred by the Covid third wave.
Because of an anticipated rise in infections in October, brands are fearing a major loss of business this year and hence, planning to advance smartphone launches coupled with discounts and offers to excite the market and clear out the inventory pile up in both offline and online channels.
But companies are still testing the waters to gauge the magnitude of the economic impact of the second wave and the possibility of a sizeable pent-up demand if there is any.
“As of this month, we have started some promotions in areas which have started unlocking. Both offline and online channels are flush with inventory due to poor sales in the past two months. So clearing that out is the primary goal,” one executive at a leading brand told ET.
“That said, this year, some power-packed launches will happen before Diwali coming from all major brands. But the industry is still sceptical about bringing any product priced above Rs 30,000 because that segment is expected to see very little engagement,” he added.
Xiaomi, Samsung, Vivo, Oppo and Realme did not respond to ET’s query seeking comments.
Last year, there was a sharp rebound in the third quarter, which witnessed a record 53 million shipments as against a meagre 18 million in the previous quarter. However, this time, experts are predicting a narrower gap because of a lukewarm pent-up demand.
“A clearer picture of the market scenario will only surface in July,” said Prachir Singh, research analyst at Counterpoint Research. “But we believe given the fast pace of vaccination in India, we will be able to arrest the possibility of a third wave in October, when the smartphone market would be back on a healthy trajectory. But for the next few months, there is a lot of uncertainty for brands to be able to make a strategy call.”
The second half of 2020 boosted a sharp recovery in India’s smartphone market, recording the highest ever 100 million shipments. This year, market trackers are expecting a weaker comeback in demand as consumers hold back on discretionary spends and save for health emergencies.
For the whole year, the market is expected to remain flat with 150-160 million shipments, same as last year.


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