Mention of Lenovo brings to mind sturdy and reliable laptops, phones, and tablets. The brand has a robust presence in India, being among the few in the country with a presence in each of these three product segments. Moreover, it retains a place among the top 5 sellers in each category. Lenovo also supports data centres in India, supplying servers and enterprise grade hardware solutions, along with the supporting software.
"We are positioned in the market very well," Rahul Agarwal, Lenovo's India head, said in an extended conversation with HuffPost India. "We have been in India for many years in all the sectors. Which gives us an advantage over the competitors. We also know who is our target customer base."
Agarwal spoke about Lenovo's plans for India and its prospects here, across product categories and ranges.
The company offers laptops under four sub-brands. There is the iconic evergreen ThinkPad, aimed mostly at businesses. The Yoga series comprises more cutting-edge 2-in-1s or laptop-cum-tablets with innovative features. The Lenovo and Ideapad series laptops are meant for more casual usage, and entertainment and gaming purposes.
According to a recent report published by the American market research and advisory firm, International Data Corporation, for Q2 2016, Lenovo stands third among Indian laptop makers with a market-share of 16.1 percent. While the year-on-year PC industry growth in India declined by 2.2 percent, the quarter-on-quarter growth stood at 7.2 percent.
Despite the flatlining laptop market, Agarwal sounded bullish about his company's sales outlook in India, mentioning that a full 40 percent of Lenovo's India revenues come from their PC business. "While the PC market is on the decline worldwide, it is going to stay flat in India with little ups and downs for a while," he explained. "This puts us in a good position. Our strongest sales are recorded in laptops which are below ₹30,000 and in the ₹30,000-₹50,000 range."
The reason behind Agarwal's optimism is his bet on 2-in-1s. "I think the 2-in-1 segment will grow in India with better Internet and more data consumption options," he said. "Right now, it has a 5 percent sales share in our PC product. That will go beyond 10 percent in a year or so. That's where our innovation in the products such as Yoga series will be fruitful."
Tablets cover a very small segment of Indian mobile devices market, and it has been an up and down curve for the segment. In the last quarter, almost a million units were shipped to India with the percentage growth of 14.4 percent, compared to the previous quarter. Lenovo was in the 4th place, behind Datawind (makers of the Aakash tablet), Samsung, and iBall.
Smartphones are at the centre of Lenovo's game in India. The company releases smartphones under Lenovo, Moto, and Zuk brands. With three brands that offer multiple smartphone models, Agarwal feels that Lenovo has something for every consumer. He saw that as an advantage for Lenovo in the packed smartphone market.
"We can define loose boundaries for the brands. Even though some of our phones will be battling with each other in terms of getting the customer attention, they will be offering something different for sure," he said. "We are seeing that the segment of ₹10,000-15,000 smartphones is the most populated. Right now, Indian consumers want more and more from their phones. The features that used to be in the premium phones are now common in this segment. It shows that innovation will become affordable."
In Q2 2016, Lenovo stood third in smartphone shipments. In a large measure, this was due to the success of Moto G4 Plus and Lenovo Vibe K5 Plus.
In the phones that it has launched this year, Lenovo has focused on providing better multimedia experience with Dolby Atmos technology and better VR support. The Moto smartphone has focused on providing great software features.
On the other hand, ZUK will be pitching premium products to the Indian consumer and in the future, the brand plans to introduce smart home products as well.
Agarwal explained how Lenovo and Moto brands cater to different consumer mindsets and therefore require different strategies. "Moto produces phones for people who want to try out new things in terms of software and hardware," he said. "Take the upcoming Moto Z with mods for example. While Lenovo is a more mainstream brand which assures you get a good smartphone experience with reliable hardware."
Moto recently launched Moto G4 Play and Moto E3 Power, which are competing in the sub-₹10,000 segment. Meanwhile, Lenovo is planning the launch of the flagship modular phone, Moto Z, during the coming festive season. And, today, Zuk is launching Zuk Z2 Plus in India.
Agarwal sounded quite upbeat about Lenovo's India prospects. "I think we are going to grow in each sector," he said. "We have very strong products. While we are focusing on the innovation, we have the bread and butter products as well which any consumer can pick and rely on. The upcoming times are going to be exciting."