Slow and steady wins the race for Oppo SA’s local ambitions

This week Oppo South Africa launched its latest device for the local market – the Reno5 5G. It is the company’s most premium device available in SA to date and kicks off its 2021 lineup of smartphones.

We recently went to Oppo South Africa’s Johannesburg-based offices to chat with head of operations and go to market, Liam Fourie, to find out more about the Reno5 5G, as well as how the past few months have been for the company and what their strategy for the coming year could look like.

Here’s the insight he was able to share.

Easy does it

The first is that Oppo is taking a measured approach to how it tries to establish itself in the South African market. The current global pandemic is having an influence here, but as Fourie explains, flooding the market with devices is not a strategy that will be successful in the long run. Part of the reason for this is that Oppo remains a relatively unknown brand for many South Africans, so education on that front, is going to be a big push for the company.

As we saw during its live streamed event earlier in the week for the Reno5 5G, Oppo is dedicating quite a bit of time talking about the legacy of the brand and the innovations it has brought to market to date.

Looking at the devices, affordability and value for money appear to be two key pillars. This as we saw Oppo bring in three entry-level/mid-range devices late last year. Fourie enthusiastically adds that the Oppo A15 in particular has been a success as it price and features have made it quite popular for that segment of the market.

It is why we won’t be seeing the recently unveiled Find X3 Pro in SA anytime soon, as the flagship phone does not fit with that Oppo South Africa is focusing on right now.

Devices like the Reno5 5G, however, are. Fourie is especially proud of the R14 999 (RRP) price tag on this phone, which he bills as being true value for money compared to other devices out there.

“If you consider the general proposition of Oppo, it is highly specced affordable devices. The South African market, and post paid contracts, makes things a little bit difficult, as a R1000 price cap on a phone does not mean much. So we looked at it and said we can bring in a device like Find X, but it is designed to be quite limited or we can bring a meaningful phone that’s at a great price point and has great tech in order to reach more people,” explains Fourie.

When we asked him about the prospect of seeing more 5G Oppo phones in the country, particularly at the mid-range and entry-level price point, he provided a mixed answer. He notes that while 5G phones have proved a key contributor to Oppo’s recent success in China, locally we still need to make 5G more widely available to warrant bringing in more devices that support the broadband standard.

Five year plan

Speaking of which, he did highlight his confidence that the likes of Vodacom and MTN, the latter of which was named a retail partner earlier this month, have been working hard to bring 5G to the fore, and Oppo will do its part to support the networks from a smartphones and router perspective.

Reflecting on the past few months, Fourie cites a GfK report in which Oppo ranks fourth among smartphone brands that Vodacom sells. He is also confident that MTN will yield similar results in the coming quarter.

Finally, looking at how quickly globally announced devices will hit our shores, Fourie tells us that Oppo South Africa will take things on a device-by-device basis, assessing whether launching a new smartphone is a right fit for the local market and what the company wishes to achieve.

The waits should not be too long though, as the fact that Vodacom’s parent company Vodafone is a partner with Oppo, means that local releases should lineup with the Europe and Middle East. “South Africa is a key territory for Oppo,” he affirms.

Don’t expect to see a new device every other week, as Oppo South Africa is taking a considered approach to its smartphone rollouts.

That said, Fourie has set a bold target for the company, aiming to be the top smartphone brand in the country within the next five years. We have seen other Chinese brands detail similar lofty targets, yet fail to reach them, so it will be interesting to see whether can indeed usurp the likes of Samsung, Apple and Huawei locally.

It it does do so, it will be with well priced and feature rich devices, according to Fourie.


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