How OnePlus Came To Enter The Top 5 Premium Smartphone Brands 

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Growth Story is a weekly podcast that breaks down the strategy and tactics utilized by high growth companies, in a short case study format hosted by Scott D. Clary (@scottdclary)

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Welcome to success story, the most useful podcast in the world. I'm your host, Scott D clary. The success story podcast is part of the hub spot podcast network. The hup spot podcast network is the audio destination for business professionals who seek the best education and inspiration on how to grow a business. House spot podcast network hosts act as on demand mentors. Two entrepreneurs startups and scale ups through practical tips and inspirational stories. Listen, learn and grow with a hup spot podcast network at hup spotcom podcast network. Today I am going to break down the story of one plus how, in just a few short years, with a dream and three hundred dollars, they became a premium smartphone brand that competes with the likes of apple and Samsung Globally. I'm going to walk through their origin story. I'm going to speak about the founders, where they came from, as well as some of the strategies that they've used to become a top premium smartphone brand and now compete with apple and Samsung on a...

...global scale. This is a business case study. This is one plus's growth story. So let's be honest, you don't have to be big to make a big splash. This has been a common theme and start ups. The story of one plus is no different this. One plus is an electronics company that's start it in two thousand and thirteen with three hundred dollars and a dream, and it sounds like the typical start up story, but one plus took it a step further and is now one of the most notable premium smartphone brands in the world. One plus saw an enormous opportunity in the high priced premium smartphone market. They created a high end smartphone with no compromises and started by offering their device at half the price of other premium smartphones. They adopted the slogan never settle, which is still used today by all the hand sets that...

...they produced, indicating that they would never settle for less when it came to the quality of their products. So just take a second and think about that. They were putting out the premium products, top grade, top shelf. Never settle is their slogan, yet they're selling them at half price. They went from zero to hero in a matter of a year and became the fastest growing android device company. But let's pause there. Let's take it back to the early days, early years. Let's talk about the founders. Where did they come from? So the story of one plus starts in two thousand and eight. And two thousand and eight, the founder, Pete Laugh, who was the cofounder of one plus, left his job in Google's engineering department to START OPO electronics. It began as an ODM, or original design manufacturing that primarily made devices for other brands in China and eventually found it its own company, one plus. One plus was also co founded by Carl pay and is...

...a subsidiary of bbk electronics, along with Vivo, real me and Iqoo. The first ever product they brought to market was dubbed the flagship killer, meaning that it was the killer of all other brands flagship, premium, top of the line phone. They called it the one. The company wanted to make a statement. They wanted to attract the attention of tech buffs and professionals looking to buy smartphones in high end markets like North America and Europe. And obviously, if we fast forward to today, the strategy work, because now they are one of the premium smartphone brands. But how do they actually get there? So how did one plus become who they are today? They had a great concept, they put it a great product, but even though the phone was not available worldwide, people still took notice. So what made them different? Let's break down the components of the one plus strategy that truly contributed to the company's success. So first was the affordability of the phone. I touched on this briefly, but one of the main features that made one plus so...

...unique was its ability to offer high end specs at a much lower price point than any other smartphones out there, especially with the feature sets that these phones had used. Were impressed with the quality the photos it produced and its sleek design, as well as the fact that it was just a well built, well manufactured, felt good in your hand device and besides, it had all of the features of all the other premium, flagship model smartphones. It was being offered at half the price compared to all other of smartphones, and that became a central selling point for potential customers. So they hit the market with a great product. They didn't just try and win on price, but then they also won on price. So remember, you will never win market over by introducing a shitty product at a shitty price or a lower price. People will eventually still want a premium offering, but if you can find a way to navigate the margin, that is, the other companies profit margin, by introducing a premium product and then reducing that price, maybe you take less profit margin on that sale, but that is an opportunity for you to win over...

...the market. This is the same strategy that Amazon did. By the way, Jeff Bezos is famous for quoting, and I may miss quote slightly, but it's along the lines of your profit margin is my opportunity. So Jeff Bezos took a quality premium product to market, Aka the same product that other people were selling, with the same features or to the same standard, and what he was doing was he was taking less profit margin. Okay, fine, you're not going to make as much money on every single sale, but you dominate the market that way. The second thing that really pushed one plus to the top, along with the great value they lowered the price point they still offered a premium product, is social media. Will actually, let's bring back that. Had A ton of really creative marketing strategies. They are very well known for unique advertising tactics, such as social media, viral guerrilla marketing. They created a lot of word of mouth, buzz around the product, and that's also, of course, helped with their success. So let's talk about some of their marketing strategies. So social media was one. They were very active on social media. From the ghetto. They constantly should news about...

...upcoming products, features releases. They created contest with giveaways for fans, like free tickets to concerts. They did things that maybe some smartphone companies were doing, but they doubled down on these things and they were really generous to their customers. They created a community and an incredibly loyal fan base. They also kept launching marketing campaign so one of the campaigns that they launched was called smash the past, where selected participants were asked to destroy their existing phones while being recorded to buy a one plus smartphone for only a dollar. No other company did this. This was viral, this was shock value and this was highly shareable, entertaining content. On top of that, it got people to convert to the one plus phone earlier on in their business life cycle. They also created an invitation system where someone would need to have an invitation to they created I've spoken of a Pomo a lot, but someone had to have an invitation to buy one of their phones. This helped the manage a massive demand for their phones and gave their brand an exclusive vibe. You see this with a...

...lot of luxury retailers. Another thing that they did, another campaign that they ran, was VR, or virtual reality events. So they opted for a virtual reality launch event, and this also placed them on the map as the world's first virtual reality shopping experience. So let's just break let's just recap quickly. They had a viral social campaign, they had a smash the past, where it's a shock value. They built in Fomo and exclusivity, and then they also leverage emerging trends and technologies with virtual reality. Another marketing strategy they used, and you've seen this a lot of spoken about these types of programs a lot, where brand ambassadors and partnerships. So India is one of the countries that contributed to the majority of one plus sales. The company collaborated with wellknown singers and actors in India to endorse their smartphones. So this is influencer marketing. One on one, they also worked with famous ambassadors such as Robert Downey Jr and brands like Hasselblad. This further help boost sales for the company.

So if you can find an influencer that really has a connection with your target market, it definitely helps. And keep in mind I want to point out something. So they used influencer marketing, plus, you know all the other things I just mentioned. But they didn't just use one of these things. They tried and tested and they used a multitude of different strategies to bring a product to market. So one thing that I'm not a huge fan of is when somebody says, Oh, influencer marketing works, or Oh, creating fomo or exclusivity around a product works, or Oh, let's do some sort of viral ad campaign or something along those lines. All of those work. Martin Marketing. A lot of stuff works. It's about finding the right mix, it's about trying different things and testing, and then is doubling down on the things that have the best result, and that's they did very well. Now, beyond marketing, something that they did well as a company, not marketing related but still very important, was to focus on user feedback. They any company that is successful. You'll notice a common thread. Again, I feel like I'm just putting myself on on repeat with some of these past case...

...studies, but any company that's truly successful, you'll notice that they have an obsession with customer feedback and they find a way to build customer feedback into their communication cadence with customers, or into their product updates or into the product itself. I've spoken about some products that actually have customer feedback built into the software, but one plus had an excellent track record of listening to customer feedback. One plus was always looking for ways to improve their smartphones. They regularly sent out updates that fixed various bugs and their smartphones and improve the overall experience based on direct feedback from their customers. They did not wait for a major release. If there was a problem, they fixed it asap. They were respond they were proactive. Rather, they were not reactive. They want their devices to be known as a premium quality phone, being on par with iphones or Samsung, but at a much lower price point, and they achieve that by making sure that if there was anything that could potentially go wrong with their phones, they were on it. They also focused on the continuous upgrading of their...

...phone feature so not just fixing the problems or just being very engaged and building a feedback loop with their community. They were always upgrading features so they had top of the line everything. So they continue perfecting their products, adding new features like fingerprint readers or usb se ports and later models. In addition, in two thousand and sixteen, one plus started producing phones designed specifically for virtual reality, something that nobody else was doing, building on top of existing technology found in the most highend devices such as Google cardboard or Samsung gear VR headsets. The latest model from one plus, this was released in two thousand and twenty. One is called the Nord to and has a unique feature called a smart skin that automatically adjust the phone settings to suit your current needs. They also have pioneered next generation G in countries such as UK and Finland. So they are trying to be the market leaders and new features. They are not trying to copy what the next I phone puts out into the market or the next Samsung device puts out into the market. They're trying to lead the way and come up with features that other companies haven't even explored yet. So,...

...inclosing, what can we learn from one plus has rise to fame incredible success in such a short period of time. Well, number one build a solid customer base. It takes time and patients to build up your loyal customers who will help you stay afloat even if something goes wrong. The company has been through multiple controversies over the past few years. They could have brought them down. However, they could resolve these issues quickly because of that customer that loyal customer base and that feedback loop that they created to constantly communicate with customers, and that's why they continue on an upward slope today. That's why they continue on an upward, upward trend and that is why they're still competing as one of the top premium smartphone brands. Second will be you listen to your customers. So, of course, to build a loyal customer base you have to listen to your customers. So companies always have to be open about their development, their product roadmap, listen to feedback of those who have purchased the product. One plus engages with its consumers through social media. They're highly active. It helps them build a strong community around the brand itself even before they launch other initiatives. And again, because there was some controversies and there was some...

...problems with the phones, having that loyal community plus, having that feed butt feedback loop built into your company so you're always listening to your customers. Does nothing but help you rectify problems quickly. And then, of course, that leads to long term success and, of course, loyalty and community that you need to have with with your customers if you want to if you want to succeed as a company in two thousand and twenty one, build relationships with influential people and companies. So work together, collaborate. This is something that one plus did as well, so they worked together with a lot of partner companies. They were also working with influencers on social media, partnering up for events or marketing strategies, sharing sales channels. By joining forces as a startup, you give yourself access to a bigger audience that will bring more value to your business. So you don't have to go at it alone. You can find lots of partners, vendors, through business development, influencer channels. There's a million and one types of partnerships that you can strike up as brand, as a startup, so leverage those so that you don't have to reinvent the wheel.

And then the last lesson would be be unique, but not too weird. So the key here is bounced. So try and stand out from the crowd without going too far. So one plus has successfully developed a unique brand, but it is not seen as too much of an outlier by most of its customers. It is easy to attract new customers because they have some unique features, but it's also easy to retain those that have bought previous versions of their device because they don't look outwards and they don't see one plus as something that is too far from what the other options, other smartphone options, are. So they're unique, but they're not so unique that they're going to turn somebody off if they've only ever used an iphone or a Samsung or any other smartphone device. So, conclusion, one plus started from the bottom built its way up very quickly. The company is now a top competitor in a very short period of time in comparison to the other players in smartphones, in phones, and they are selling premium smartphones around the globe. One plus is a prime example of how brands should pay close attention to what their customers actually want,...

...and if they do that, then they can massively expedite their growth by observing what the market needs and drawing ideas from the customers, one plus became one of the companies to beat. They have accomplished something spectacular in an extremely short period of time and it will be exciting to see how they compete with the the he myths of the smartphone industry in the next few years.

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