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Interview of Midhula Devabhaktuni From MiVi on Emerging Trends of Phone Accessories Market in India

Phone Accessories Market in India

Consumer Goods and Retail | Jul, 2018

In an interview with TechSci Research, the MiVi Co-founder Midhula Devabhaktuni said that IoT and Artificial Intelligence are few of the technologies that she believes are rapidly penetrating the phone accessories market.


TechSci Research: What was your idea behind Mivi? What were the major motivations?

Midhula Devabhaktuni: Mivi was started for a couple of reasons by me and my partner Viswanadh. We lived in the United States, for about eight years and on a trip back we noticed that if you wanted to purchase any electronic accessories like a cable or a charger, there were only two available options- the Chinese Products and the expensive international brands. While Chinese products are cheap they are not genuine, are uncertified and can potentially damage your phones, bring down your battery capacity and in some cases, they burn out. While the international products are in India with a price tag of $40 to $50, as compared to $20 internationally due to additional overhead charges, lack of production facilities in India or the extra import duties.

We also noticed that there was no customer service or warranty in India. So, if I were to have any problems with the product that I’ve bought (including the branded ones), I have no means of getting it repaired as there is no customer care or service centre. I can’t contact anyone, and the products are never replaced or repaired. Eventually I must go to a local service centre where the technicians might not have the proper knowledge of how to repair them.

The major motivation came from the unavailability of certified products and even if there were, they were highly priced, and the other thing is no warranty and lack of proper customer service. So, it came from our need to find certified and genuine mobile accessories and our business and personal experiences. So that is how we decided to start an electronics brand where we make genuine and certified products and can sell them at a much lower and affordable price which can be absorbed in the Indian market. We had prior experience of selling in the online space, good technical know-how of online sales as well as electronics, as my partner has done his postgraduation in electronics and I’m an MBA grad. So, we had all the required expertise and we saw a very good opportunity.


TechSci Research: Can you take us through the journey of MiVi since its inception? What have been the major roadblocks or challenges that you have faced over the years? What kind of growth have you witnessed over the years?

Midhula Devabhaktuni: We incorporated the company in October 2015, and the first eight to ten months went into extensive R&D. In April 2016, we launched our first product- a car charger and by mid-2017, we finished our entire portfolio for the charging category, like chargers, cables, car chargers, travel adapters and power banks. In June of 2017, we entered the audio segment with our Bluetooth earphones and are still working on the audio category. We have some amazing launches lined up for this year.

In terms of challenges and roadblocks, I’d say we’re currently an online-based brand and making customers experience the product was an issue. We did not have a personal interface with our potential customers and therefore communicating the product quality without the option of them seeing the product physically is a huge challenge. We’re very thankful to the initial few customers who bought our products without any reviews or ratings and took a chance on us. Once people started buying our products, they liked the product very much and word travelled across. Word-of-mouth was our only marketing strategy at first because I think our products speak for themselves and we take active part in providing efficient after-sale services over a variety of media like email, phone, WhatsApp, etc.


TechSci Research: Since Mobile Accessories is a highly fragmented market and you have been here for 3 odd years, who do you consider your closest and distant competitors?

Midhula Devabhaktuni: Mobile accessories market is indeed a highly fragmented market in India and there were a huge number of players before we entered and now that has multiplied. These days even mobile companies are foraying into this space. To answer your question, we have segmented our competitors in two categories- uncertified China products and International brands. 

Majority of the sellers on e-commerce platforms buy their products from China and resell them in India. We, on the other hand have an in-house design and R&D team. We develop products specifically for the Indian market. None of the brands in the market be it Indian or International cater to the needs of the Indian market.

Because of this we consider ourselves uniquely positioned in the market.


TechSci Research: Who do you consider your target customers?

Midhula Devabhaktuni: Our Target group are online consumers (since we’re currently based online) between the age groups of 17-35 years. These are also consumers interested in music and new upcoming technology.


TechSci Research: What is really moving fast in the mobile accessories market from a technology perspective and how is Mivi geared up for its business for 2019?

Midhula Devabhaktuni: Technology in electronics changes very rapidly in India as well as around the world. Gradually, all the mobile phones are now switching to Type-C chargers, few years down the line micro-USB will no longer be used and something new will come up. However, with the rapidly changing technology, we must also keep customer demand in mind because the introduction of new technologies doesn’t necessarily mean higher customer adoption. In case of removal of aux ports on the iPhone, a shift towards type-C earphones was anticipated, but instead the customers started to shift towards wireless or Bluetooth earphones. Even with wireless charging, we haven’t seen major consumer interest because consumers prefer using their phones while charging, which isn’t possible in this case.

With the introduction of new features, improved battery backup by brands like apple and Samsung, technology is evolving, but it boils down to what is adapted by the consumers. We intensely analyse and study the market before manufacturing anything and launch a product when it meets what the customers demand.

IoT and Artificial Intelligence are a few technologies that will rapidly penetrate the accessories market. IoT is being already implemented, but AI will likely take some more time to come into the mobile accessory segment. We have a very strong R&D team that is constantly working on new technologies and trying to build products around it and thus keeping ourselves updated.


TechSci Research: With increasing internet penetration and smartphone users, players are planning to set their footprints in Online retail space. What opportunities and road-blocks do you see w.r.t. this trend?

Midhula Devabhaktuni: The reason we are currently online (even though were planning to foray into offline retail as well) is that we see a huge potential in the online space. Even today, only small percentage of Indians are present in this space but it is growing at a very good rate. The consumers themselves are providing a huge opportunity and the best advantage I would say is direct consumer reach. If I were to put my products in a big electronic store, there would be a sales person who may or may not be able to handle consumer queries regarding the products that efficiently, however, on e-commerce platforms, the customer is directly buying from us and we are addressing their questions as well as grievances more efficiently. In my opinion, the biggest advantage is I get to control the kind of service, product or experience being provided to the customer and that is the most important aspect of building a brand.

In terms of roadblock, I would say, initially, no one knew about your brand and they must only rely on either the pictures or word of mouth. They don’t get to experience the product beforehand or compare it with any other and see which one is better like how they can in an electronic store. Hence, selling a product based on listings, images, videos or different online media and trust building is a bit of a challenge.


TechSci Research: What's your take on this whole new world of social media marketing and how are you looking to leverage the platform?

Midhula Devabhaktuni: We love social media marketing and for the same reason that we have more control on who I want to target. We can reach out to our target customers, project our product better and cater to their specific needs more efficiently. So, if we were to sell our product like a Bluetooth headphone we can make create different social media posts for a teenager and adult so they can relate to rather than showing irrelevant content.


TechSci Research: What role does Consumer Behaviour Analytics play in your business?

Midhula Devabhaktuni: Consumer Behaviour Analytics plays a huge role in our business and we rely on it before even designing our products as tend to look for all the market offerings because we are coming out with better products at affordable prices. We analyse market places like Amazon and Flipkart where you have thousands of costumer reviews which enables us to identify the things that are not working with the existing products in the current market, problems faced by consumers and what’s trending in the market, get a feedback and make our designs accordingly so that our product addresses all these issues. Post our product launch, we read the reviews and feedback, so we can constantly work on towards the betterment of our products. We take consumer behaviour and feedback very seriously to enhance their experience.


TechSci Research: What according to you will be the biggest trend accelerating Mivi’s business in 2019? Do you see new set of verticals in India?

Midhula Devabhaktuni: We’re focused on the audio category this year and are trying to incorporate technological improvements like better ICs, improvement in Bluetooth, AptX, and integrating different sound related technologies into our products. We have multiple things going on at this stage like, in the charging space, wireless charging seems to be gaining some momentum slowly. It wasn’t such a big thing when we initially forayed into it, and hence, we’re now taking our time in observing the trends around it. But majorly, we’re focused on the audio segment this year.


TechSci Research: What would be your top 3 priorities for 2019 as one of the most trending mobile accessories brand in India?

Midhula Devabhaktuni: Our top three priorities for 2019 would be:

1.       Expanding the product line as we want to heavily go into the audio space by 2019.

2.      Getting into Offline retail is on the cards but hasn’t been finalized yet. It is one thing we are looking forward to very seriously by 2019.

3.     Making customer service way more easy and convenient. If you’ve ever used our customer service, you would know that it is very easy to get in touch. However, were still working upon service part to make it more accessible and address all the feedbacks constantly to improve the user experience.


TechSci Research: Can you mention your brand “Mivi” to us in a single sentence?

Midhula Devabhaktuni: Quality, Service and Exemplary Products that Speak for themselves.

Based on the conversation with Ms. Midhula Devabhaktuni and looking at latest trends in the India Mobile Accessories Market, TechSci Research predicts that the Indian market for mobile phone accessories is forecast to grow at a CAGR of over 10% to by 2023, on account of increasing inclination of customers towards advanced, safe and secure accessories for their mobile phones. Moreover, rising penetration of smart devices across the country, growing demand for technologically advanced mobile accessories, along with increasing R&D investments in wireless connectivity are expected to further boost India mobile accessories market in the coming five years.  

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