Uneven demand problems are still a problem in the market, and channels are still susceptible to stock accumulation.
According to data by Canalys, 2023 got off to a rough start for the Indian smartphone market, which saw its first-ever Q1 shipment loss of 20% year over year. Samsung maintained its lead position in Q1 2023 with a 21% market share and 6.3 million units shipped.
With 5.5 million shipments, OPPO passed vivo and Xiaomi to take second place, propelled by the success of its recent product launches. Vivo emerged in third with 5.4 million shipments, closely behind, as it kept up its strong progress in the offline channels. As the online channel remained quiet, Xiaomi dropped to fourth place with 5.0 million devices shipped, while realme retained fifth place with 2.9 million shipments.
“The Indian market faces early-year struggles but vendors keep fueling the market as they remain bullish on long-term prospects,” says Sanyam Chaurasia, Analyst at Canalys. “Just as the economic indicators toward the end of Q4 2022 clearly suggested that demand would remain sluggish in the short term, it was witnessed so in Q1 2023. Despite this challenge, investments from major brands are pouring in as they align with the government’s vision and changing consumer behavior. They are focusing on optimizing retail, manufacturing, local sourcing, and R&D to secure their long-term position in the market.”
“Q1 2023 showcased that brands must balance channel contributions to keep business operations stable and maintain share,” adds Chaurasia. “Vendors with efficient channel management have proven to be more resilient to market volatility. Post-pandemic, vendors who have nurtured mainline retail channels, have demonstrated stability even during market downturns. Increasing contributions from high-price-band models have encouraged vendors to focus on strengthening their offline channels. Samsung has been efficient with its fast-moving model placement in the offline space. For this quarter, it was the new 5G-capable A-series. Apple’s new offline stores staffed by expert employees will further enhance its brand experience and position. While online heavy brands have driven units primarily through e-commerce sales, leading to periodic volume surges.”
“2023 will be challenging as the mass-market segment is still moving slowly. Nonetheless, the premium segment is poised for growth, boosting the ASP growth of the overall market,” said Chaurasia. “As disposable income gradually rises, consumers are willing to spend more on premium devices. To succeed in this segment, brands must prioritize availability, affordability and aspirational value. Going forward, brands should also emphasize export strategy to align with the government’s initiatives. At present, India’s smartphone export growth is primarily driven by Apple and Samsung, helping achieve a record-breaking export value of almost US$4 billion in Q1. Canalys expects modest growth this year, driven by organic growth drivers. However, to stimulate the upgrade cycle, 5G devices and other market drivers must offer compelling utility for consumers.”