China’s ZTE intends expanding its market share in smartphones in South Africa through an aggressive marketing campaign aimed at growing consumer awareness of its brand, its newly appointed chairman, Han Xun Jian, says.
The company hopes to grab 10% of South Africa’s smartphone market within three years, Han tells TechCentral. He won’t disclose the company’s current market share, but admits that it’s a tiny fraction of that.
ZTE, the biggest rival of China’s Huawei, has grown its business substantially in South Africa in recent years, winning contracts with MTN, Cell C, Vodacom and FibreCo. The company has just been awarded a contract to build a national fibre-to-the-home network for MTN, Han says.
ZTE focuses on three strategic sectors.
The first is telecommunications, where its supplies a wide range of equipment and services to operators.
The second is the broad information and communications technology space, where its clients are big enterprises and governments. Focus areas here are broadband, energy, transportation and public sector solutions.
Lastly is the consumer segment, where ZTE intends directing money to marketing in the run-up to Christmas to raise its profile among South Africans.
Han says ZTE is well positioned to take more market share because it has an “end to end” offering targeting various groups, including youngsters and the elderly both in feature phones and smartphones. It will also work with operators and channel partners, including retailers, to expand its local consumer presence.
In smartphones, Han says ZTE has a number of legs to its growth strategy both in South Africa and internationally.
The first is ensuring it produces good quality devices. “Reputation is the most important,” he says. “If the phone is very good and you have a good experience, you will share that with your friends and family.”
Another focus area is ensuring the company produces what Han calls “cool products” that consumers want to buy. “Cool design must attract customers,” he says.
Price will also play a big role. Although ZTE is “not only focused on lower prices”, it will try to “give aggressive prices in this market”. A call centre has also been established to provide support.
When it comes to telecoms operators, Han readily admits that rival Huawei is ahead of ZTE in South Africa, but says the company has plans to expand its market share there, too. It will do this by cooperating with operators, helping them to address some of the challenges they face.
“They’re worried about becoming dumb pipes,” he says. “We have to help them increase revenue. This is our target and our mission.”
ZTE South Africa, which was established in 2001, has about 300 full-time employees, half of whom are South African. — (c) 2014 NewsCentral Media