By Cherry Fu, marketing director GCC, OPPO.
Covid-19 represents a moment in time that our life has never seen before. People and brands have been thrown into disarray as the pandemic swept across the region. The smartphone industry has also been affected by the epidemic, as many manufacturers look to host online launches and delay smartphone releases.
For OPPO, almost overnight we had to look at overhauling and recalibrating our marketing plans and think about the new needs of the customer. Our most significant focus from a marketing perspective was looking at how we could help our consumers through these challenging times by still getting our products into their hands through digital touchpoints as opposed to a physical footprint. While the conditions we were working within dramatically changed, our objectives stayed the same – to launch our phones to our customers with the best possible experience. Of course, our strategy to
reach this objective was altered but, despite facing a tough reality, we wanted to ensure we were always delivering our best to our customers; this is the OPPO way. We altered our map, moving away from an in-store, high-touch experience to an equally engaging online journey. We continued to see a strong consumer demand for our products; therefore, our marketing had to keep being aggressive; this was not a time to back away from our customers.
As a first step, this meant almost instantly moving our products from offline to online. Previously our experience has shown that the market for online sales when it comes to mobile phones is tiny and underdeveloped. Still, we saw how quickly consumers adapted to e-commerce as a way of purchasing mobile phones, given the conditions they were presented with. We harnessed the massive potential of e-commerce and pivoted quickly to a digital-only reality. We worked with key partners such as Noon, Amazon, Sharaf DG and Jumbo to ensure that our products were readily available online to adapt to the new socially distanced world we found ourselves in. We knew that with the amount of time people were spending at home, they were going to be highly dependent on their technology, so being available to them was a key focus for us.
Another huge guiding principle for us was to engage with our customers with empathy and find ways to address their new needs and add value as they looked to navigate the new normal. We were always listening to our customer feedback and using real-time data to be a supportive partner to them and deliver what they needed from us at the right time. As part of this, we worked with our service providers to be able to extend the customer warranty on all phones that expired during the lockdown. All devices automatically received a three-month warranty extension so that customers could stay safe and stay home and not have to worry about any phone issues; rather, they could visit the service centre when they felt safe to do so.
While of course customers were a big focus for us, the move to digital was also crucial as we looked after our own people. We came together as one OPPO to ensure our people were still culturally close while physically distant. We hosted training sessions online for our staff and partners, facilitated work from home and ensured all safety measures were implemented. We were tough and resilient, and I am proud of the way our team has bounced back stronger than ever.
Things will be unlikely to return to the way they were before the pandemic. The GCC is a diverse market, and Covid-19 has affected different places differently. Some countries are living the new normal now, while others are approaching it. As different countries are at various stages of the curve and governments execute different strategies, each territory has its unique features, so of course we must tailor our strategy accordingly. We collaborate with different distributors across markets to plan our launches and make sure our phones are available; if we can’t make this happen, then we postpone the launches. We continue to listen to our customers and stay as close to them as possible, so we are prepared to adapt our strategies, accordingly, ensuring we truly understand what the changing landscape means for them and their needs long-term.
For OPPO, moving forwards, while we are of course facing challenges like all brands, we are also being presented with opportunities. We need to keep going, keep listening to our customers and keep providing them with the technology they have become accustomed to.