Drugi jezik na kojem je dostupan ovaj članak: Bosnian
Have you ever heard about the company Transsion? One of China’s biggest smartphone producers? No? Don’t feel bad, neither have most of Chinese. And the reason why even the Chinese don’t know about the company is its business model and strategy that brought them great success, even though the company hasn’t sold a single unit in China.
The company rather decided to focus on another burgeoning market, ripe for doing great business – Africa. Given the saturated market in china when it comes to smartphones, already conquered by big global brands and countless more or less successful Chinese makers, the company set its sights on the continent of Africa whose smartphone market is still growing, with population over one billion people.
In Africa, Transsion has left in its wake global brands of the likes of Samsung and Apple, and their flagship brand Tecno is almost omnipresent. All this was thanks to fundamental focus on localization.
Company’s founder George Zhu traveled throughout Africa as head of sales for another mobile phone company, gaining thorough insight into the continent’s smartphone needs, and realized that smartphones made for other developed markets aren’t the right choice for the continent.
He founded the company and defined the strategic course for its success in the mid 2000’s, right at the time when Chinese “Going Out” strategy was encouraging entrepreneurs to focus on export, with a special focus on Africa.
In 2006, Zhu launched Tecno in Nigeria, and leveraged rich knowledge about the market to bring localization to the product level, creating smartphones tailored to the needs of consumers of this continent. One great example of this being the phones camera.
It is one of the biggest selling points of their Tecno flagships, but not because its leagues better than that of competitors, but because it is optimized for African complexions. VP of Transsion, Arif Chowdhury, said “Our cameras adjust more light for darker skin, so the photograph is more beautiful,” which explains why they are part of their success.
Another big factor to winning the market was making devices with dual SIM capability, as the company noticed people in Africa often have multiple SIM cards in their wallets. Wanting to relieve them of the fuss of constantly switching cards in their phones, as most can’t afford two phones, all Tecno smartphones come with this feature.
This propelled the company in the African market, and soon Transsion opened R&D centers in China, Nigeria and Kenya to work out how to better appeal to African users.
The devices come with support for local languages such as Amharic, Hausa and Swahili, and the handsets come with a longer battery life. Once again, this was a decision that came from a deep local insight, since the power cuts in some countries are very often, as government’s try to conserve power, leaving people unable to charge their phones until the power comes back.
The above are all technical solutions tailored to the market, but part of the localization was also in the pricing. To this end, Transsion divided it’s range of products under three main brands: Tecno, Infinix and Itel, and majority of their smartphones go for between $15 and $200.
In Ethiopia for example, average monthly wages are from $54 to $108, and an iPhone 7 in this market costs around $900, while Samsung J7 is around $360. Pricing was therefore key to conquering the market, but the company wanted to diversify its offer and to conquer wider price range without hurting any of the brands, so they opted for launching three lines of products.
To illustrate how effective Transsion was in winning the market, we need to look back to 2010, when Nokia and Samsung had dominated sales across the continent, while Chinese brands were almost non-existent there. By the first half of this year, Nokia’s share of the market had collapsed and Samsung was selling only one in 10 phones. Transsion on the other hand commands more than 50% of the market, according to Canalys.
The company also advertises itself as an African company, downplaying their Chinese origin, and Tecno’s stores carry no Chinese characters or signs of being a Chinese brand.
In the 2017-2018 Brand Africa 100 report, published by African Business magazine, Tecno ranked as the 7th most admired brand in Africa. That was up from 14th the previous year, but it still lagged Samsung (2nd) and Apple (5th). The iPhone is still considered a luxury product that many Africans aspire to own.
In 2017, Transsion launched Tecno in India as well, and within a year had claimed 5% of the huge market, once again thanks to brilliant example of localization – Indian people use their hands to eat food, and when their fingers get oily the phone can’t recognize their touch. Transsion once again came up with a solution: screens that can read greasy fingers.