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Le Eco's Atul Jain: It’s not just marketing, it's creating an entire ecosystem

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MUMBAI:  A late entrant in the market, Chinese smartphone and screen manufacturer LeEco, previously called LeTv, has already created waves with its aggressive approach for the Indian market, and has given existing players like Xiaomi and Samsung a run for their money. Industry insiders unanimously agree that LeEco has disrupted the entire smartphone business in the country, and perhaps even redefined it. After launching its first product in India in January 2016, the company has already broken all records for online smartphone sales and bagged the ‘online top-selling’ tag for its flagship product Le 1s, having sold over 200,000 Le 1s in just 30 days!

And why not? The company has set itself a target to be the number one online smartphone player in the next five months. It doesn’t take a scientist to guess that a feat like that would be impossible without a sound and efficient marketing strategy to back the brand with. Ask LeEco India Smart Electronics Devices COO Atul Jain about what the secret is behind the brand’s success and he says “It’s the ecosystem that we create.”

As per Jain, the ecosystem LeEco strives to create in India works on four different parameters - devices (smartphones and screens), content, cloud and platforms.

“For now we have introduced our devices in the form of the smartphones that boast of breakthrough technology supported by disruptive pricing. We are also working on building the ecosystem and will be able to provide the same from quarter two (Q2) onwards of coming financial year,” says Jain. The brand also plans to enhance its screen presence by bringing in what it calls a ‘super TV’ by Q2.

On the content side, LeEco has already partnered with over-the-top content provider YuppTV led by Udaynandan Reddy and the Sunil Lulla led Eros International. “We are striving for many more partnerships with Indian media houses in the upcoming months,” Jain reveals. “We are also looking at building a huge content library, be it through partnerships, acquisition or self-produced content,” he adds. It is to be noted that the company has presence in the media in China through Le Movies, its own production house.

“From a cloud network perspective, we have already introduced content distribution networks (CDNs) in Delhi and Mumbai, and are looking to expand it to ten more cities. LeEco already has 650 CDN networks through the cloud across the world,” explains Jain. “This is in compliance with LeEco’s Chinese model of strengthening its delivery network to boost the smartphone business and maximise profit.”

Jain shares that outside China, India and the US are the top two biggest markets in focus for LeEco for this financial year. “We have plans for other APAC countries like Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia, but our biggest business expansion is going to happen in India and the USA.”

Entering the market this late and establishing a formidable presence wasn’t an easy task for the Chinese technology giant. “We were quite unknown in India even six months ago. To create the awareness around the brand was the biggest challenge. The go to market strategy, setting up a team here, were some of the initial challenges.” Jain explains that instead of being bullish about a strict marketing plan, they kept their eyes open for what the consumers wanted, understanding their needs and translating that into products. “In our case we looked at bill of materials (BOM) pricing and that was very attractive for the consumers. “That becomes very critical when you market to a new place. Secondly, we paid attention to creating awareness about the brand through all the media available to us, and that was relevant to the product, that is, social, digital, and even offline presence through retail stores,” he says.

Perhaps the biggest boost to sales was the flagship campaign ‘LeEco Day’, wherein consumers enjoyed extremely lucrative offers and prices on the smartphone. It must be noted that several other smartphone brands, including Freedom 251 also went the ‘disruptive’ prices route to meet a completely different and disappointing end.

Explaining LeEco’s mass media plans, Jain says, “LeEco is also looking at being present in radio, and television advertising isn’t ruled out either. While a substantial chunk of the company’s marketing spends are directed towards digital, moving forward Le Eco will have good spends in television and print as well. Around 30 to 40 percent of the brand's marketing spends would be towards digital, and the balance split between print, OOH and television.”

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