The balance of power is changing in the Russian smartphone market: the Chinese brand Realme (part of BBK Electronics) increased shipments in the first quarter by six times, according to the GS Group. BBK follows the path of the Chinese Xiaomi, offering cheap smartphones with the characteristics of more premium devices, experts explain. This will be reflected in sales in the second quarter. Chinese brands expect to occupy the niche of the sagging Huawei and Honor, but they promise to begin an active recovery in shipments and sales soon.
The Chinese holding BBK Electronics (owns the brands of smartphones Oppo, Vivo, Realme) for the first time took a noticeable share in shipments to Russia, follows from the extended report of GS analysts on the smartphone market for the first quarter, which Kommersant got acquainted with. In January-March, the share of three brands reached 7%, and the volume of their deliveries increased by 62% over the year, to 600 thousand units.
Imports of Realme grew the most – six times, to 308 thousand devices. At the same time, the volume of imported Oppo smartphones decreased by 25%, to 144 thousand units, and Vivo – increased by only 4%, to 112 thousand units.
In total, according to GS Group, in the first three months of 2021, 8.1 million smartphones worth 256 billion rubles were imported into Russia. In units, the growth in deliveries was 8%, in money – 34%. In the first place, according to GS Group, was the Korean Samsung, the second was taken by the Chinese Xiaomi, the third – by Apple.
In sales, the share of BBK remained almost unchanged year-on-year: the holding’s brands accounted for 6.3% of smartphones sold in the first quarter, while a year earlier the figure was 5.3% of the market, said M.Video-Eldorado. In money terms, the share of BBK brands remains at 3.5%.
According to a Kommersant source among retailers, Realme sales in the first quarter grew by 244% in unit terms and by 225% in monetary terms.
The brand took 2.5% of the market in pieces, while sales of Oppo and Vivo sagged, the source of Kommersant claims. Sales of Oppo, according to him, for the year fell by 22%, and Vivo – by 49%, to 1.5% and 1%, respectively.
The Russian market has become one of the strategic ones for Realme, so the company has aggressive plans for the second quarter, said Dmitry Gostev, director of brand development for the company in the country. According to him, Realme expects to maintain the pace of sales growth: “We are developing cooperation with partners, of which there are already more than 400, and we are also going to open an online store.” Oppo said it “follows a sustainable development strategy in Russia.” Vivo has assured that it will continue to increase cooperation with retail chains and electronic platforms to increase the availability of its products.
BBK brands participate in the section of the share of Chinese Huawei and Honor in Russia, analysts at GS Group say. The supply of these brands due to US sanctions and a shortage of components fell to a vanishingly small 1.3% and 2% of the market, respectively (see Kommersant on April 28). “Deliveries did indeed decline in the first quarter,” admits Tony Rahn, President of Honor in Russia, Turkey and the CIS. Now, according to him, the company is at the stage of transformation and “very soon the volumes of supplies and sales will recover.”
The shipments do not directly reflect the level of smartphone sales, but large volumes of imported devices can stimulate sales, said Ilya Shatilin, an analyst at Telecom Daily.
Thus, in his opinion, the growth in Realme shipments will be reflected in sales only in the next quarter. “The brand follows the path of Xiaomi – it sells devices with a minimal mark-up, conducts sales,” the expert explains. Oppo and Vivo tried to promote in Russia rather with a claim to “premium”, he clarifies: brands have invested in advertising from bloggers and expensive sponsorship of sports events.
According to Mobile Research Group analyst Eldar Murtazin, Realme’s share in the Russian smartphone market has grown significantly over the year, since of the three BBK brands, the company offers the most inexpensive smartphones that are comparable in terms of technical characteristics.