Journey from Micro to Max
Two years back, when the Goliaths—Nokia, Samsung and LG—had a firm grip on one of the fastest growing mobile markets in the world, a David was born. Just two-years old, still in its nappies, this David has pushed Goliaths into a tight corner and is giving them a run for their money.
Micromax, the David, is now the third-largest GSM mobile
phone vendor in India, after Nokia and Samsung, with a market share of 6%, according to research firm IDC. The Rs 1,600-crore brand, which sells around 1 million mobiles every month, has a presence in more than 500 districts through 70,000 retail outlets.
A distribution company, Micromax Technologies, was engaged in reselling hardware since 2000. It subsequently did software projects for other big IT companies and later on graduated to become back-end partners of Nokia and Airtel, helping implement their different products and services.
It was in 2008 that four friends—Rajesh Agarwal, Sumeet Arora, Rahul Sharma and Vikas Jain—decided to diversify their IT hardware distribution business and start making mobile phones. The move towards selling handsets was a natural progression. “We saw that the MNC brands were not selling phones that suited Indian consumers’ requirements. This void had to be filled. So in April 2008, we forayed into the handset market,” said Vikas Jain, one of the four founders of Micromax Infomatics, the company that owns the Micromax Mobile brand.
Their first mobile phone boasted of a month’s battery power, and further charged the ambitions of the friends. Like all leading players in the cell phone industry, Micromax also gets its handsets contract manufactured from China. A zero-import duty on cell phones has helped the industry proliferate. After a slew of phones targeted specifically at the rural masses, the company made a shift towards selling handsets that come with features appealing to urban consumers such as music phones, qwerty and internet-enabled handsets. “We wanted to approach the market in a different manner by first going to rural and semi-urban areas, establishing a good distribution base and then targeting the big cities,” said Vikas Jain.
In a sea of me-too brands, Vikas feels that it is innovation and R&D that will power Micromax’s growth and set it apart from the crowd. So, the brand has been integrating different solutions into one, to churn out mobile handsets that are unique and differentiated through the features that they provide. The company already has a universal remote control phone, one that can be paired to household appliances like the TV, AC, to act as a remote control for them. Then there are gravity sensitive phones and a whole gamut of different feature laden phones that the company is guarded about, but is going to launch in the days ahead. “We have to be quick in launching new products as competitors can also copy a lot of this soon enough,” reasons Jain.
But the ace up its sleeve really is the Micromax Gameolution phone. Post signing up actor Akshay Kumar, the company sold 1.2 million handsets last month. Akshay was a natural choice. He has a youthful and peppy image that is perfect for our brand. In fact, we signed him up in fifteen days flat,” says Jain. Before this, the company tied up with MTV to launch its X360 music phone, another big hit with urban consumers.
Instilling pride in the brand, the custodians of the Micromax brand now want it to be the top brand of 10 in every 100 mobile consumers.