New Delhi: With anti-China sentiment growing since the tensions started at Ladakh border more than a month ago, there has been a call to boycott ‘Made in China’ products in India. A recent survey by market research firm Counterpoint Research, however, found that only four out of 10 Indians will likely not buy Chinese smartphones.
The results of the survey were published on 19 June.
While four out of 10 respondents in India had “strong opinions of not buying” Chinese smartphones, most were unsure about their decision “at the time of survey”, Pavel Naiya, a senior analyst at Counterpoint Research, told ThePrint.
The survey was conducted between mid-May and the first week of June, before last Monday’s violent face-off that killed 20 Indian soldiers in action at the Galwan Valley.
The company said in its statement: “We believe the recent conflict on the India-China Line of Actual Control (LAC) will play a profound role in shaping this [consumer] behaviour.”
Naiya added, “The result is showing opinion of the respondents during the survey. But actual buying decision will be determined by many other factors, including budget, price, alternative products availability and other social and economic dynamics.”
He said 2,500 smartphone users in seven countries — India, US, UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy — were surveyed.
While over 1,000 users in India were included, nearly 200 to 300 people were surveyed from the other nations depending on how big a country’s smartphone market was.
The survey was conducted by Consumer Lens, which is the consumer research division of Counterpoint Research.
‘Recent conflict will shape consumer behaviour’
In a statement released 19 June, the firm said the survey sought to explore consumer sentiment towards Chinese smartphones, given that the Wuhan region of China was the starting point of Covid-19.
“The anti-China sentiment is highest among Indian consumers” with more than half of the people surveyed harbouring “a negative attitude towards Made in China products or Chinese smartphone brands”.
Amid the growing anti-China sentiment, hashtags like #BoycottMadeInChina have been gaining momentum on social media.
The firm’s statement noted how “many brands have recently initiated Made in India and nationalistic campaigns” to counter the strong anti-China sentiment prevalent in India.
Poco, which started as a sub-brand of Xiaomi in 2018, had launched its ‘#POCOForIndia’ online campaign on 3 June.
Similarly, in a video published on 16 June, Realme India CEO Madhav Sheth said all their smartphones are “Made in India” and the company sources “more than 60 per cent” components from local suppliers. Sheth also said Realme was “in line with all necessary government of India initiatives”.
India flooded with Chinese smartphones
There are more Chinese smartphones available in the Rs 10,000-20,000 price range in India than non-Chinese ones. This also happens to be the range that half of the Indians surveyed by Counterpoint Research said they would stick to when buying a smartphone.
India is also flooded with more Chinese smartphones brands than those from any other country. This means the chances of an Indian buying a Chinese brand is much higher, said the survey.
According to another market research firm IDC, nearly 76 per cent of the 32.5 million smartphones shipped to India in the quarter ending March 2020 belonged to Chinese smartphone brands.
The same IDC data also showed that four of the five top smartphone brands in India are Chinese.
Xiaomi, a Chinese brand, has the highest market share in India, followed by Vivo. At number three is Samsung, the only non-Chinese brand to be in the top five, followed by Realme, and Oppo, both Chinese brands.
Even in the refurbished market for smartphones, Chinese brands are among the most popular. Yaantra is a firm that partners with 35,000 re-sellers who buy refurbished phones and sell them to consumers.
Yaantra co-founder and CEO Jayant Jha told ThePrint that Xiaomi smartphones sell the most, followed by Samsung, OnePlus and Apple phones.
While business has resumed, he said, there hasn’t been any change in consumer sentiment.
Before the pandemic’s onset, Yaantra had sold 65,000 phones a month and around 22 to 25 per cent of these were by Xiaomi. Refurbished Samsung phones would account for around 15-20 per cent of what sold in a month.
Jha said the average selling price of a refurbished phone was Rs 5,500 to Rs 6,000 and this would mostly be one or two year old Xiaomi and Samsung phones. Oppo and OnePlus gets a higher price — Rs 7,000 to Rs 10,000.
iPhones are the most expensive, with even a four-year-old one selling for Rs 12,000 to Rs 15,000, he added.