1. How was 2019 for OPPO in the GCC region?
The GCC is a very important market for OPPO globally. Earlier this year we established our regional headquarters in Dubai and marked our first venture into the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). Saudi Arabian consumers – like the rest of the region – are tech-hungry and keen to have the latest innovations. OPPO smartphones cater to these preferences and we are happy that our smartphones have been well-received.
The GCC was the first overseas markets to launch our premium series Reno series and we are also among the first smartphone brands to launch 5G products in the region.
2. Within the region, where do you see the most potential for growth?
The Kingdom has been a major expansion market for OPPO and has a lot of potential for growth. The youth of KSA are tech-savvy, have a high consumption power, high popularization of the internet, as well as, high smartphone adoption. OPPO’s smartphones match the needs of the younger generation of KSA.
We continue to invest substantially in the Gulf region as seen with the launch of local operations in Saudi Arabia earlier this year. These investments are primarily being made in people—from product, marketing, and sales teams to HR and logistical staff. We are also investing in retail partnerships and brand-building activities together with strategic partners. These investments will continue to swell as we assess new collaborations related to product design, technology R&D, and youth empowerment.
3. What are the main trends that you have witnessed among smartphone users in the region?
This region is one of the youngest in the world with a vast majority of residents under the age of 30. Young smartphone users are looking for three things in a smartphone: superior camera, long-lasting battery, and enough storage to handle the large number of images they like to capture. OPPO’s smartphones are especially strong in these three aspects. With Reno Series, we introduced the first ever 60x Digital Zoom that delivers a breakthrough camera experience using a three-camera setup – especially when it comes to capturing the tiniest details. With Reno2 Series, we introduced quad-camera set up that provides a full focal length imaging system; ultra-clear night shots even under nearly-no-light condition on Ultra Dark Mode; and super-stable video shooting on the go with the Ultra Steady Video.
4. The GCC smartphone market is increasingly getting crowded with more and more players. Do you think it is saturated or is there space for all to exist profitably?
In comparison to markets such as China and Western Europe, competition in the GCC smartphone market is far from fierce. That’s why we consider this to be one of the greatest markets for OPPO, as there is considerably more growth potential here than in other markets around the world. More smartphone players in the market means more choice for consumers, so they’re the real winners at the end of the day.
5. As an international player, do you see many differences between the regional market and the global market?
Every region is unique. In the developed markets like Saudi Arabia, premium and flagship models take up a big share of the market, entry level is also very popular. In the Saudi Arabia and UAE, consumers care about the brand as well as the features and that’s why we adjusted our product lines from entry and middle level phones to premium and flagship ranges.
Whereas in North Africa, for example, value for money is more important. If sales of whole smartphone industry in the Saudi Arabia and UAE and are hourglass-shaped（Both premium and entry level takes big accounts, then in Egypt it’s – perhaps quite aptly – a pyramid, with higher sales for the entry level smartphones, followed by mid-level, with our flagships comprising a smaller percentage of sales.
6. Being a youth-focused brand, does it make it more challenging to keep up with their rapidly changing preferences?
OPPO is a young company that is dedicated to providing innovative technology and experiences to millennial generation. Engaging with youth and becoming one of them is a core priority for us. This is reflected in the culture that we have within our company as well. The average age of OPPO employees is under 30. There are several senior employees including directors and a VP who are under 30. So as a young company and being young people, we truly easier to understand the youth. OPPO Reno series has been created keeping young trendy consumers ‘needs in mind.
We understand that whatever the latest fad or preference may be in smartphones, the core demands remain the same. Consumers want a smartphone that offers superb photography, a long-lasting battery, and large storage capacity. These features remain at the core of every OPPO smartphone.
7. How much do you invest in marketing in the region? (percentage/number/ any figure) Are you better able to target your key audience through these efforts? Also, what channels do you prefer? Do influencers help your brand?
When it comes to OPPO, we have one philosophy – if it’s something we believe in, we invest. We introduced our Reno series here in the region, and adjusted our product line to be more premium in line with local preferences. In terms of sales channels, we are continuously extending these through partnerships with leading retailers, such as Jarir Bookstore to create additional Points of Sale awareness. There have also been several campaigns launched across the region, such as Reno (Mars Plan), International Cricket Council (ICC), Wimbledon, and more. Influencers are, of course, an important consideration for the younger generations, which is something we’re taking into consideration for the launch of our Reno2 smartphone.
8. OPPO is investing heavily in innovation. With today’s technology growing at an unprecedented pace, it’s hard to keep up with what’s coming next. How key a role does R&D play in the current scenario?
Investment in R&D is at the heart of OPPO’s philosophy of continued innovation. We have invested heavily in research and development, and we now have six R&D centres around the world. Earlier this year we started work on a new research and development center in Chang’an Town, in Guangdong Province, China, which will accelerate our R&D capabilities. The new facilities, along with the company’s existing R&D centers, will form a robust research engine that powers OPPO’s continued innovation for the emerging era of intelligent connectivity. This year’s investment in R&D will equate to approximately US$1.46 billion.
9. You have recently taken on the new role at OPPO in the region. What are your expectations and what do you hope to achieve?
OPPO MEA is the brand’s fastest-growing overseas market and OPPO MEA has started to earn profit as a result of our sales doubling in compared to last year – so our investment so far is starting to pay off, and I intend to maintain and further strengthen this trend.
In terms of our products, we will continue to strengthen our line to a higher standard, with our focus on the mid- to high-end products that this market in particular is fond of. We are planning on bringing more flagship products to the region, as well as some Internet of Things (IoT) products.
For marketing, the plan is to continue to position ourselves as a high-end brand for the new generation. We will implement more marketing campaigns to get closer to our target audience, which is young locals across the region.
Our channel development efforts will continue to increase OPPO’s point of sale brand image. We may even build our first exclusive store in the region