The great wooing: Is Apple close to finally convincing the Indian middle class?
Has Apple finally managed to woo Indian consumers? Recently, Apple has been showing high sales in the country after it opened an online store last September. Will a brick-and-mortar store add on to this ongoing success, winning over the Indian middle class, a group that has always remained elusive for the Cupertino based brand?
Apple has enjoyed a robust franchise retail network pan India, but since last September, its online store has aided the brand to reach out to consumers beyond its retail network.
Owning an Apple is the stuff of dreams for the Indian middle class. A purchase that needs planning and a steady income. With so many other brands holding out several options, it will take much convincing on part of the brand
In a January earnings call CEO Tim Cook said that the brand had sold more than a million devices in India for the first time. After the recent third quarter results, the “new June quarter revenue record of $81.4 billion, up 36% from last year” was credited to double-digit growth in emerging markets, “including, India, Latin America and Vietnam.”
Indian consumers are showing their love for the affordable iPhone SE, and the older iPhone 11 and the new iPhone 12 series. As per a recent CyberMedia Research report, Apple has shown 140% growth in the June quarter, owing to iPhone 11 which has made up 60% of the shipments.
Apple’s Luck Turned in India from 2019
Even in 2018, Apple was failing in the Indian smartphone market. Apple’s luck in India started turning in 2019 when price cuts on old generation iPhone models like iPhone XR, iPhone 11, and other attractive schemes started yielding results. Indians also took to Apple Watches, AirPods Pro, and Mac desktops.
Tarun Pathak, Associate Director at Counterpoint Research, predicted last year, “Apple recovered in the Indian market in 2019 after a sharp decline in 2018. 2020 is going to be important, as this is the year when Apple has strongest-ever portfolio — iPhone XR, iPhone 11 and iPhone 8 — that will be very much relevant for the growing Indian market. There is also a lot of speculation about iPhone SE2 coming this year,”
For Indian customers to see the value that Apple brings, the company has to provide sales support at the same level as its US outlets
2020 saw Apple supplier Wistron assemble low-end iPhone SE, iPhone 6S, and iPhone 7 at its facility in Bengaluru. Apple supplier Foxconn’s facility in Sriperumbudur, Chennai, is manufacturing their highest-selling iPhone XR.
September saw the launch of Apple’s Indian online store, with a full array products and accessories, including shopping assistance from Apple Specialists, EDU pricing for students, free no-contact delivery, options in financing, a trade-in program for iPhone sales, and more.
2021: Apple Ranks Fifth Largest PC Brand in India
Come Q1 of 2021 and Apple ranked the fifth largest PC brand in India, with more than 200,000 desktops, notebooks, tablets, and workstations being shipped, as per data from Canalys.
Research company IDC’s stats show Apple’s computer shipments in India, excluding tablets, expanded 335.5% year-on-year in Q1, second to Asustek’s by just 2,000 units. In fact, IDC’s rankings for computer brands in India in the quarter show Apple and Asustek neck to neck at the fifth place.
The success was accrued to store traffic that eventually led to purchases.
In a January earnings call, Cook talked about its India online store getting a ‘tremendous’ response since its launch. He also added that it had doubled Apple’s smartphone market share in India to 4% in the December quarter. Cook announced plans for brick-and-mortar retail stores in India.
What Indian Apple Fans Want
While so far, the plan for a brick-and-mortar retail store has been delayed due to the pandemic, Apple fans in India have great expectations from the brand.
For Indian customers to see the value that Apple brings, the company has to provide sales support at the same level as its US outlets. Opening offline stores in Indian metropolitan cities will also help. Making their services, such as Apple TV+, Apple News, etc., available in multiple Indian vernacular languages will also help popularize the brand in the sub-continent.
It’s possible that adding AppleCare+, which is Apple’s brand name for extended warranty and technical support plans for their devices, with the base product, and keeping in mind the exchange rate, Apple products become profanely expensive for the India market.
With their world renown customer support and services, the longevity of their products, as well as the status attached to owning an Apple, the rich upper middleclass in India are likely to opt for them
However, with their world renown customer support and services, the longevity of their products, as well as the status attached to owning an Apple, the rich upper middleclass in India are likely to opt for them.
If the Indian market can push up Apple’s market share to 10%, the success would be incredible. Considering the Indian market’s size, a 3-5% boost in share can be expected, which will be a feat.
Will the Indian Middle Class Buy?
In 2016, Apple was waiting to woo the Indian middle class.
“The truth is, there’s going to be a lot of people in the middle class that will really want a smartphone, and I think we can compete well for some percentage of those,” Apple CEO Tim Cook had said during an earnings call in October.
Owning an Apple is the stuff of dreams for the Indian middle class. A purchase that needs planning and a steady income. With so many other brands holding out several options, it will take much convincing on part of the brand. With flawless quality and services, Apple could gain in on them. Whether a brick-and-mortar store does the trick or not remains to be seen.