Connecting a nationLaunched towards the end of the first decade at the turn of the century when countless brands were popping up across the world, Colors Mobile became the first Nepali brand to launch its own range of products including their smartphone
For a small developing country as Nepal, our dominance in the world of internet connectivity is astoundingly high. The latest Management Information System (MIS) report of Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA), published in January 2016, shows that the number of data customers in the country stands at 11,893,004 with a 44.89 percent penetration—a relentless ascent from a 0.00 percent penetration in 1995 when the internet was still a pioneering technology that had yet to dominate the mainstream. Yet, today every professional and layman is connected through the internet, and geographical barriers that were once impediments of colossal consequence in connectivity are but trivial inconveniences that can be accommodated with a click at one’s fingertips. “The sudden growth in internet usage started with the availability of smartphones. It was boosted when cheaper variants of smartphones were available in the market and mobile companies aggressively charged the market. With easy accessibility of services like 3G and GPRS, and social networking sites getting strong support, a favourable environment for Internet blossomed in the country,” says Suman Lal Pradhan, CEO of Websurfer and President of the Internet Service Providers’ Association of Nepal (ISPAN).
One of those mobile companies to which Pradhan attributes the key factor in virtual connectivity across country is pioneer brand Colors Mobile. Launched towards the end of the first decade at the turn of the century when countless brands were popping up across the world and popular brands at the time such as Nokia were getting increasingly dominant, Colors Mobile became the first Nepali brand to launch its own range of products including their smartphone. “We are a mass-market brand that caters to a large range of customers all across the country from a person in Surkhet to a person in Kathmandu. Our target market is the demographic to which the mobile phone is an integral part of their lifestyle—yet we offer value-for-money products whose pricing is relatively cheaper compared to our competitors’, and are mostly popular among the regional crowd,” says Rohit Gupta, Chairperson of Colors Mobile. Elaborating on the beginnings of Nepal’s first brand of mobile phones, and their ascent to market dominance at present, Gupta shares, “It was hardly an overnight success—we have only come this far because we invested tirelessly in our brand and worked hard to win the confidence of the Nepali customer. Initially, it was difficult to get people to believe in our brand as they had never heard of a Nepali brand in the trajectory of communications technology and were hesitant to place their trust; we had to earn it. I’ve been all across Nepal myself selling our products to local retailers and building their trust in us. While it wasn’t easy, it was a very good and necessary challenge for our humble beginnings.”
Furthering on the development of Colors Mobile and their efforts to establishing themselves as a well-reputed and reliable brand, Gupta shares,“We have improved tremendously since and adapted ourselves readily to the latest advances in technology and developed a channel of networks all across Nepal. We started off as a feature phone brand selling low-cost feature phones. But as the market grew and expanded to include the smartphone, we became the first regional brand in Nepal to launch an Android smartphone at a value-for-money price, which was Rs 10,000 at the time. Doing so, we were also able to improve our brand image in the market as people begun to have more faith in our brand and in our services. Our mantra, to which we owe our success thus far, has always been to keep updating our brands to maintain technological superiority yet at a reasonable price that appeals to all demographics.” As Colors Mobile has been largely attributed for making mobile devices accessible to a larger consumer base, and whose salient feature is its affordability, Gupta elaborates on their choice of self-identification as a value-for-money brand and shares with the Post, “It is because we, as a company, have to adapt ourselves to the country; people have a modest income here with very little to spend on luxury items, which the mobile phone was largely identified as recently as a couple years back. Recognising the revolutionary benefits of the smartphone, we at Colors Mobile aspired to make the mobile phone accessible to the entire populace at large and have been able to innovate and launch technologically evolved smartphones while maintaining them at affordable prices that appeal to the majority of the Nepali population who want maximum value for their money.”
Elaborating on the approaches employed by Colors Mobile to present themselves to a larger populace and not just appeal to a segment of it such as the youth, Gupta explains, “As a young brand, our approach was to appeal to the mass population, the semi-urban and rural population by providing affordable smartphones capable of competing with the popular phones at the time. When we switched to smartphones, we tried to tap into the youth to whom the smartphone is an indispensible component of their lifestyle and even named our sub-category X-factor to create a brand image that appeals to the youth and their quirkiness. We approached them through campaigns at universities and local youth group meets, and through popular social media such as Facebook and Twitter that sees a large youth presence in its users. Once we had achieved this, we moved on to the third stage, which is the current stage, when the smartphone has become a way of life rather than simply a trend that is hot among the millennials. We are trying to satisfy a larger customer base with our tag line “Come alive,” that our customers have optimistically responded to.”
On the ambitions of Colors Mobile in the Nepali market for mobile devices in the foreseeable future, Gupta optimistically devises, “We aspire to lead the market in the next 10 years or so, given that the mobile phone is still prevalent. We pride in our ability to adapt from obsolete to cutting-edge technology and see Colors Mobile charging furiously in the direction that the latest technology embraces. In the context of Nepal, we are primarily a hardware brand as of present, but hope to expand to software services such as e-banking, and promote tailored apps for the Nepali customer by local app developers and provide more value for your money. It is our hope that this will help empower the life of the common Nepali and revolutionise their lifestyle.”