Last year was not particularly great for Indian phonemakers. Especially in the smartphone segment, the sales graph pointed downwards. Yet, for feature phones and mobile phones overall, Indian companies managed to keep things at an even keel. According to the IDC data, Intex, one of India's oldest computer peripherals and accessories brand, finished at an impressive third place in phone sales.
The company had a 9.9 percent share in the overall mobile market, largely due to feature phone sales. All of 26 years old, Intex director Keshav Bansal sounded buoyant when he spoke to HuffPost India about the company's position in the market.
"We are a 20-year-old company which started with selling ethernet cards," Bansal said. "Almost 75 percent of our revenue last year came from the mobile business. We closed with $1 billion of revenue overall, which is a great figure."
Mobile phone sales are just one part of the Intex product range. "Consumer durables and IT appliances are also going strong for us," Bansal added. "We have sold over 6 million units in the past year. We are selling more than 1 lakh LED TVs and more than 2 lakh machines as well. We are venturing into washing machine and ACs as well."
In the phone segment, Intex's sales are still driven by feature phones. Almost 65 percent phones sold by the company are feature phones, though with their superior margins, smartphones earn 65 percent of the total mobile revenues.
Bansal credits the robust sales figures to Intex being an old and trusted brand, and to a sound marketing approach. "We have targetted the masses to sell our products," he said. "You have to tap into the consumer's head to understand the market."
According to Bansal, Intex is selling over 2 million mobile phones per month, out of which 7 lakh units are smartphones. The company has launched some devices recently in the ELYT and Aqua series. The target audience for Intex comprise those spending less than ₹10,000 on a phone. The company is also opening a big manufacturing facility in UP.
Intex has been heavily involved in marketing in the past few years. The company's decision to buy the Rajkot-based IPL team, Gujarat Lions, was aimed in part to become more known in a sea of Chinese smartphone players. Intex invested ₹10 crore in buying the franchise. Gujarat Lions performed quite well last year, finishing on top of the table in the league round.
Intex's marketing budget has come down this year to ₹275 crores from ₹290 crores last year, and this includes marketing for Gujarat Lions in the ongoing IPL 2017.
"Initially, the idea to buy the team was for marketing, but then we loved being in the sports space," Bansal explained. "In fact, we have invested into a sports based startup called Rooter as well from our start-up fund."
He added that Intex's brand image has changed a lot post-IPL, especially in Gujarat. And, the sales numbers seem to be reflecting that. The company has launched a special edition Gujarat Lions smartphone as well.
Intex's plan for 2017 is to present a solid portfolio of smartphones and feature phones. Gauging the potential demand, it plans to dive into the 4G feature phone market as well. It aims at garnering 25-30 percent of its revenue this year from consumer durables.
Bansal is confident of growth despite the Chinese dominance in the Indian smartphone market and Nokia's re-entry in it. "We have been here from quite sometime while brands have come and gone. It's all part of the competition and we are confident of performing well," he said.