CXO Dialogue: In conversation with Sudhin Mathur, MD, Motorola Mobility

With a dual brand strategy focused around Lenovo and Moto, and a clear focus on budget and mid-range phones, Motorola Mobility has made great strides in attracting the Indian consumer.

In 2017, Motorola launched 14 new devices, across price bands, in the India market. As per CMR Mobile Handset Market Review for CY2017, Motorola Mobility had a market share of 8% amongst smartphone brands.

Sudhin Mathur, Managing Director, Motorola Mobility, shared his perspectives on the India mobile handset market, and the innovations one could foresee in the year ahead, in a conversation with Prabhu Ram, Head –Industry Intelligence Group at CMR.

Prabhu Ram: As per CMR India Mobile Handset Market Review, Motorola Mobility was ranked 5th on the Smartphone Leaderboard for CY2017. How does Motorola Mobility view the India smartphone market in 2018?

Sudhin Mathur: Motorola has always had a strong presence in mid segment smartphones and we have established ourselves as real innovators in the premium segment too.

We have gone beyond what today’s typical smartphones can do with modular technology. Recently, we have recently launched three new Moto Mods that allow you to explore your passions and go beyond what today’s smartphones can do. With Moto Mods, user can transform their Moto Z series smartphones into exactly what they need and when they need. Moto Mods magnetically attach to the phone and provide seamlessly advanced functionality.

In 2018, we will continue this momentum and focus furthermore on the premium smartphones with our innovative modular Moto Z and Moto X franchise. From product portfolio perspective we will focus on offering premium design, bigger displays, smarter cameras and bigger batteries providing better experiences to customers.

Prabhu Ram: In terms of innovating on smartphone prices, what are the key trends you foresee?

Sudhin Mathur: The year 2017 will be remembered as the year of transition and 2018 is going to be the year of experiments for the smartphone industry, marking a start of a second era of the handsets for Indian consumers.

It is currently an upgraders market and the ASP (Average selling price) this year moved up by 30 USD. It will continue to be the same next year too with consumers buying higher ASP devices, which is expected to go up by another 15 USD next year (calendar year).

2018 will be the era of exploring the device from the hardware perspective, the smartphone is more or less commoditised and provide solution around what would matter a lot to customers and bring premium experience to the customers.

Prabhu Ram: What kind of marketing strategies you foresee to get customer engagement in a hyper market like India?

Sudhin Mathur: Our campaigns are built on customer engagement. Although we are a digital-first brand, we use multiple mediums to reach out to our target audience, who can be tapped into as per their choice of content consumption.

As for trends in 2018, we believe that Influencer Marketing will continue to have a significant impact on Digital and Social Media strategies in 2018. Most brands will turn to influencer marketing to reach audiences across social channels. With the rise of micro-influencer marketing; brands no longer need to depend on huge marketing budgets. They can instead tap into the power of micro-influencers and leverage their equity to establish credibility.

Moreover, in a mobile first culture and with the exponential growth in data speeds and limits, video consumption has risen drastically. The usage of OTT and video apps have increased manifold and it will continue to increase in significance towards end-2018. However, the key differentiator will be the creation of high-quality, relevant video content.

Last but not the least, brands are working towards strengthening their offline presence and Out of Home (OOH) will emerge as one of the most effective offline medium and will contribute significantly by reaching a wider group of consumers.

Prabhu Ram: Where do you see the next phase of growth coming from for Motorola in 2018?

Sudhin Mathur: As the consumer purchase decisions are maturing, they want to experience the look and feel of the product. We believe that our next growth strategy will come if we bring our distinct Moto experiences to the retail environment.

Presently, nearly two-thirds of our sales come from the online mode and only one-thirds from retail, which is exactly the reverse; vis-à-vis the current market trend. Our target is that equal amount of business should come from both retail and online. To achieve this 50-50 split, Motorola has set out to strengthen its presence in the offline channel through the concept of Moto Hubs; which are dedicated retail set-ups housing the entire Motorola portfolio as well as standalone formats in select malls in major cities, which currently stand at 18.

We have also partnered with multi brand retail chains including Poorvika Mobiles to open 250+ Moto Hub in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka and with Big C and LOT Mobiles to open over 300 MotoHub stores in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Our plan is to ally with 1000 stores in the country and engage with consumers across all key cities, in a uniquely Motorola way.

We want to change the way Indian consumer is sold a mobile phone. We are confident these partnerships will help us get closer to our customers.