When Sunil Dutt, former distribution head of Nokia India, took over the reins at Samsung Mobile, he knew he would have a Herculean task to catch up with his former employer. But in the six-odd months since he has been in charge, things have slowly begun to change. “We are a clear number two in the market right now, and we are innovating with our products and I think we have cracked what the Indian consumer wants,” Dutt says.With an estimated 7.5 per cent market share, Samsung is still way behind Nokia, which makes one out of every two mobile phones sold in India. “You have to understand that Nokia has an extremely strong reach and brand appeal, but as people want more on their mobile phones, they will hopefully look at brands like ours that gives them much better value for money.”
Dutt also believes that in major urban areas, organised mobile retail is slowly but surely changing the market. “Consumers want choice, and that is what these multi-brand stores can offer them. Unlike small retailers who would only stock the best-selling models, these retailers can afford to stock several models and give all brands equal displays,” he says. Dutt, however, acknowledges that penetrating deep into the country is also important. “You can’t place all your bets on organised retail,” he adds.
Samsung has signed up actor Aamir Khan to endorse the brand. “Aamir has been extremely effective for us; we believe that he best epitomises our brand values,” Dutt says. With Shah Rukh Khan backing Nokia, you have to wonder whether the race at the top in Bollywood and in the mobile market mirror each other.