Focus on your products, not competetionSanket Agarwal is responsible for Xiaomi’s overseas expansion in the Indian sub-continent. He is currently exploring Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka as potential future markets.
Sanket Agarwal is responsible for Xiaomi’s overseas expansion in the Indian sub-continent. He is currently exploring Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka as potential future markets. According to Agarwal, the company’s philosophy is to bring innovation for everyone and inculcate the latest technology and specifications into our phones while also making them affordable. He has previously worked for multi-national companies such as Cisco Systems, McKinsey & Company and Blackbuck. In this interview with the Post’s Saurav R Pandey, Agarwal talks about maintaining the brand image and the challenges of living up to customers’ expectations. Excerpts:
MI phones are known for their reasonable prices. Tell us about how MI balances quality with affordability.
In order to ensure highest level of standard and value, our quality control team makes sure that the products go through multiple quality tests. Our products are measured against the standard of Field Failure Rate (FFR). In India, Xiaomi’s FFR is one of the lowests in the mobile industry. There are a lot of companies whose products are very pricey but the price tag is not justified by the performance. We are long-term players and our focus is on delivery and performance. When MI was launched in China, there was a lot of difficulty; however, if one looks at the brand’s growth, it is now the fourth most valuable technology companies in the world. MI’s goals are to increase the valuation of the company by offering the best products at the best rates. We want to provide seamless functionality in every device that hits the market.
How do you plan to promote MI products in the Nepali market?
Today in Nepal, we are selling MI phones through more than 600 retail stores. We already have five exclusive MI stores in many parts of the country. Our flagship store in Labim Mall has myriad products available apart from just smartphones. Xiaomi is already an established brand among smartphone buyers here. However, we want the customers to explore and buy other range of MI products too. The initial hurdle encompassed making an impact on the market to even start selling our phones but now, it’s all history. It’s time for us to focus more on promoting other products that include portable speakers, power banks and other smart devices. We are trying to be as accessible as possible so that everyday people can reach our products easily.
We want to build a small team here that also constitutes strong after-sales service centres.
In many parts of the world, social media sites have become an alternative platform to advertise products. How have these platforms helped in your branding?
Our Xiaomi Facebook page has more than 600k followers. We are very social media savvy and are present across as many networking sites as possible.
We look at our consumers as our fans, and we work towards connecting with them. Televisions and newspapers are platforms only for advertising our products, but through social media, we can go beyond it and engage and interact with our customers. Through social media, we get constructive suggestions that will help us fine-tune our products. Currently, the smartphone industry is expanding and although we trust our brand, we have to be on our toes. We have to be consistent, be out there and remain visible. We can’t take other brands for granted.
How challenging is it to live up to your consumers’ expectations?
There is no short cut. Hardwork is always important. For any individual and company to become successful, they need to go through hurdles and deal with them.
Xiaomi has done the same. We have had our own share of hardships. Being in the smartphone industry comes with the threat of cut-throat competition. It’s all or nothing. Fortunately, our company likes and is prepared for challenges. Our consumers are our gods, they are everything for us. So, we do what is in our capacity to satisfy them. Right from how we write our drafts to how we organise our events, everything is done by keeping our consumers in mind. For a service industry like ours, there is no escape. We need to serve our customers persistently.
What plans do you have to maintain the image of your company?
We do not have any specific new plans at work right now. We are still working towards achieving our prior goals and stay focused on the mission and vision of Xiaomi.
We know that there are some problems and we are working to fix them. One can only maintain a brand image, when you are providing quality service to customers. Without inventinve ideas to grow, a product will merely remain a product, and never become a brand. It’s through the customers’ word of mouth that you become a brand that people want to be associated with. The work should speak for itself.
MI is available across various regions. In all these years, how has the company made its way to this height?
We are whatever we are because of our consumers across all these countries that we are present in. They provide us with feedback on what, where and how we can improve and what they want. We don’t want to sell something that comes with little to no utility.
The commercialisation of our products has helped us receive honest and brutal opinions from our consumers and thus, we always have the opportunity to rectify our mistakes. We have reached here because we take the criticisms constructively and work on improvement right away.
What can other brands learn from MI?
Every brand has smart people who want to live up to the expectations of their consumers. One brand cannot be claimed as the leader of other brands. You need to let the consumers trust your brand and fulfill their expectations by coming up with products that make them happy. Invest more on improving your products and don’t focus on unhealthy competitions. A tip to succeed is to be positive and work towards fulfilling your goals.