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Getting Over The China Mobile Phobia With Micromax!

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The phone that makes a really loud noise. The phone with the large wide screens. The phone where you could catch a movie just as in a small television. The phone with the huge encasing and body. And last but definitely not the least and more so definitely the most important part of it, the cheapest price tag.

Take all of these features and what would be your guess a few years back from now. The China Mobile. The china mobile phenomenon had created quite a flurry of activity in the mobile market in India during the heydays of itself when customers seeking a cheap and attractive mobile used to by default make a  move towards it. In fact that particular period was definitely dominated by the Chinese mobile handsets when it came to uber cool features at a dirt cheap price.

That was until the fears of higher radiation levels and uber low quality of the Chinese mobiles started stepping into the consumer mindset. And of course it was not an unfounded bias that had crept into the consumer mindset out of the blues. It was in fact perfectly valid and the fears based on real facts.  And with the Government Of India and DOT crackdown on fake IMEI numbers, the death knell for Chinese mobiles in India was almost complete and so was the absolution of the following consumer mindset thought and decision making patterns (specific to mobiles) :

  • If it’s too cheap it’s from China
  • Quality is directly proportional to cost of purchase
  • Brands other than Nokia, Samsung and Apple? (Not to be trusted)

1. If its too cheap its from China

After the refuting of the china mobile phenomenon from the market, the consumer mindset stopped accepting that lower priced mobiles could come from anywhere else on the planet. However more than failing to recognize that low priced mobile options could come from anywhere else other than China, the greater fallout was the fact that consumers stopped believing in brands that came out with lower priced mobiles.

2. Quality is directly proportional to cost of purchase

 Although quality of the product is more of a result of the phases of manufacturing of the product, the core materials utilized in manufacturing the product, the design and specifications of the product and its compatibility with the market into which it would be moving, because of the popularization of the China mobile concept, quality has settled down as a by product of the cost of purchase alone.

3. Brands other than Nokia, Samsung and Apple? (Not to be trusted)

 The consumer mindset as a result of the China mobile phenomenon had and is still latched on to the perception that mobiles coming from anywhere else other than the flagship brands of Nokia, Samsung or Apple actually are not branded but in essence are products that cannot be relied upon or more staidly cannot be trusted.

Consumer perceptions as above thus gave rise to the China Mobile Syndrome or the Phobia Of The China Mobile phenomenon which results in brands coming out with low priced handset options today, being looked upon with distrust and graded down in the brand of preference order.

In this context, the case of Micromax therefore stands tall today.

From the date when it entered the market with its low priced offerings in mobile devices, and to date even, its products have not been able to realize the consumer trust that sets apart a valued brand, due to no obvious flaw in its products, but due to a phenomenon that’s largely unwarranted. The phenomenon as I mentioned earlier is the Phobia of the China mobile. And the phenomenon stands valid even though the brand Micromax is actually and eventually Indian.

This phobic reaction to any product that comes at a hard to believe low price but boast features that compete with the highest ended mobile offerings from a Samsung or a Nokia brackets products from Micromax as being similar to the low on quality china mobiles, which is largely untrue.

However the “brand Micromax” has stayed on course and with its recent noises in the market, has been definitely successful in doing away with the “low price, low quality’ tag that is given to its products by consumers by default, especially by launching products like the Micromax A116 Canvas HD, which has definitely done a lot towards allaying the fears of the china mobile phobic consumer. Priced low and with great features packed in, products like these have definitely raised the brand value bar of Micromax.

A simple depiction of how Micromax is slowly wresting out the china mobile phobia can be made by the qualitative comparison of the specifications that its products like the A116 Canvas HD carry and those carried by the consumer trusted Samsung Galaxy Grand.Samsung Galaxy Grand Vs Micromax A116 Canvas HD

One look at the above chart and what appears as an obvious fact is that the Micromax A116 Canvas HD is definitely a better performer on the four basic areas which decides a consumer’s preference of the mobile device:

  • Price: The Micromax A116 Canvas HD comes priced at Rs.13,999 which clearly beats the price tag of Rs.21,500.
  • Processor: While both Samsung Galaxy Grand and the Micromax A116 Canvas HD come with a 1.2 GHz processor, while the Canvas HD features a quad core ensemble, the Samsung Galaxy Grand features a dual core.
  • OS & Memory: The Canvas HD might not be better than the Samsung Galaxy Grand in terms of its operating system and memory on offer, but it is same as what the Samsung Galaxy Grand has to offer except in terms of the memory in built which is a 4 GB on the Canvas HD and 8 GB on the Samsung Galaxy Grand. Furthermore the expandable memory via micro SD is at 64GB for the Samsung Galaxy Grand and 32 GB for the Micromax A116 Canvas HD.
  • Display: The displays on both the phones are sized at 5 inches, however while the A116 Canvas HD features a 1280×720 IPS screen, the Samsung Galaxy Grand features a 800×480 pixels TFT screen.

The above presentation of specifications might be an all too familiar sight in many reviews of the mentioned mobile devices. But the point in question isn’t about the review of how good or how bad the mobiles are respectively. The point is how exactly Micromax has worked hard and made the consumer move away from the China Mobile Phobia generally associated with devices at low prices.

Micromax has not done anything drastic to pave the way for consumer trust towards its low priced competitive band of devices.

So, What Has Micromax Done?

Innovated & Re-innovated:

Micromax initially was a subject of ample scorn back in the days when it came into the market and started fielding its products, the obvious reason being the China Mobile phobia of low price mobiles.

But it stuck to its strategy of innovating and re-innovating upon its own products which has served huge wonders, considering the way today its products like the A116 Canvas HD seem to be as good as, if not better than heavyweight competitors like the Samsung Galaxy Grand.

Sell Cheap And Stick To Cheap:

The primary concern with brands like Micromax is the low cost of their products which leads on to the conception that the product has to lack quality. However undeterred by this negation, Micromax has stuck on to its basic differential of offering cheap products with good product features. That has seen it through the initial negative traction because in India, the consumer at the end of the day is always in for the good and cheap bandwagon.

So while the dirt cheap deals are initially scorned at, if the qualitative value of the products improve over time and remain so, at the end of the day the consumer ultimately moves in with the cheap and good offerings in the market.

If You Can’t Beat Them, Join Them:

This is the smartest move that Micromax has gradually made in terms of its product development principles. The basic reason a consumer remains skeptical of a low priced product is the basic reason that its features do not normally reflect high utility. What Micromax has done is a very simple reflection of the, “if you can’t beat them, join them” concept.

If you would have subscribed to the specification comparison above, this statement should be clear. At the low price packages that its products are sold, Micromax cannot always afford to pitch in uber high features like the same feature segment competitors. However what it has done is pitch in features that almost match the premium features on its competitors, resulting in a phone that seems to sport and in many cases even sports specifications that match the premium segments and still manages to keep the price low, resulting in products which offer consumers similar delights as a premium end phone while keeping the price low. And that is something we just love in India.

Micromax today, is still a brand that is placed at the low end of the mobile market and is perceived as a cheap alternative that carries a utility value as a substitute for premium mobiles, but with packages like the Micromax A116 Canvas HD, the brand Micromax might soon be close to being a replacement to premium mobiles which an average Indian can’t afford. Ultimately while the China Mobile Phobia might not have been erased from the consumer psyche, a move towards it has been definitely made by Micromax.

About the Author: The author Rupam, works with FindYogi, an Indian product comparison shopping site. His major interests include alternate technologies, consumer markets and products which he covers extensively .

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11 comments

  1. “Micromax is an Indian consumer electronics manufacturer located at Gurgaon, Haryana,India. It focuses on the manufacturing of mobile telephones and LED Televisions. It has 23 domestic offices across the country and international offices in Hong Kong, USA and Dubai.[4][5] Presently, the company has about 1400 employees. Micromax Informatics Limited has announced its foray into Maldivian telecom space through an exclusive partnership with Sense Wood Maldives (Pvt) Ltd. Micromax is the 3rd largest manufacturer in India and 12th largest handset manufacturer in the world” That sounds great on paper. But Micromax isn’t a device manufacturer at all. It simply rebrands chinese phones. Micromax A60 is the ZTE Penguin, the A85 is Aliyun W-800 and A90 is Gionee 868. Obviously, none of that matters to most people, as Micromax is a “brand” now. In India, you can become a brand in two dichotomous ways. First way is to create iconic products(Nokia 3310) and give exemplary service. The other is to sponsor a bunch of events(Sunburn, few music awards, India-Sri Lanka “domestic matches” and so on.) without having a substantial product. Till now, Micromax was a nonentity in the premium segment, until it launched the CANVAS HD. It was the first budget quad core device to be taken seriously and surely it got sold out in minutes. The phone itself is good. But here are my problems with it. 1) It is not Canvas HD but a rebranded Ginoee GN878, I’m not too sure, but it looks like that to me. 3) Micromax is tacky. 4) If you like tacky, buy the original OEM, it’ll get OS updates. Micromax has never and I mean never upgraded the phones. They sell the phones and that’s that. They don’t even release the kernel source(which is mandatory according to GNU-GPL) Bottom line: Canvas HD is a good phone, but its not canvas HD, it won’t get any software updates(officially) and it is not a true quad core device. Still, as I type this, 5 people are buying Canvas HD from various websites. The irony. [Ed's note - Problem is no one cares about the finer things. India wants cheap and India wants them 'apparently' good. I personally would start recommending Micromax if they released the kernel source and started giving out software updates.]

    • Arun Prabhudesai

      @avya – What a wonderful comment… This could have been a post in itself… Thanks for that and I fully second your opinion. Having said that, what we need to give to Micromax is that they were able to build brand out of nothing…where others could not do it… Even biggies could not create the kind of market they have created… What I appreciate about Micromax is they understand the pulse of Indian market and release product accordingly and on time… I know 5 similar manufacturers…who had quad-core phone release plans since Oct-Nov… but they have still not released it…While Micromax was able to announce and give initial batch of phones… These finer things Micromax has done well..

    • @Avya Agree with your viewpoint. And appreciate such an insightful comment. However it is also true that Micromax has managed the act of branding a low cost handset beyond what others have managed. Furthermore I understand the tackiness that you associate with Micromax, however this is what Micromax has done very well. It has slowly taken out the tackiness attached to low cost with its launches and brought around buyers who earlier would have probably associated tackiness with low cost.

    • Appreciate your insights @avya. However what we must give to Micromax is that they have branded the low cost handset, and converted consumers who associated tackiness with low cost, to actual buyers.

  2. Nice read. However, Micromax wouldn’t have been able to do this and a lot more if it wasn’t for Android. So let’s give Google’s child some credit. Let’s agree to one thing: it’s not that bigger, brighter, and sturdier phones were not produced before but they all lacked usability in the form of a reliable operating system. Android’s arrival elevated Samsung to the next level, and put Micromax on the pedestal. Case in point: i really don’t know anybody who went out to buy a Samsung with BADA on it. Do you?

    • @Vijayendra, true enough. Google’s Android is definitely one of the reasons Micromax has been able to take its bandwagon ahead. However the fact that it has capped the entire functionality of the Android into its product design to manufacture low price segment handsets exclusively is something to be contended with because that isn’t something Samsung or other manufacturers have done.

    • Arun Prabhudesai

      Agreed Vijayendra – Google needs to be given lot of credit for Android… But what mmx has done very well is exploit Android and Chinese low cost manufacturing to the fullest. And they have done it well. They came up with decent hardware, created a brand name…advertised heavily and targeted the price conscious Indians with some good specification phones with low costs.. Other companies have also done it, but MMX has done it better..

  3. Excellent article. The composition of the article, starting from making clear China mobile phobia to how it effected Micromax to how it faced challenge to how it succeeded is real good. Just my two paisa :)

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