FOCUS: Russians turn to cheaper smartphones in Q1 as prices jump
By Yekaterina Yezhova
MOSCOW, Apr 18 (PRIME) -- The 2021 popularity of high-end smartphones faded away in January–March when Russian buyers picked cheaper models, mainly of the Chinese brands, amid soaring prices and rush for other goods, retailers said.
“The peak of the first quarter demand for smartphones occurred in late February–early March, when flagship smartphones enjoyed high sales. After that, demand stabilized and was redistributed in the low and mid-price ranges, where the Chinese manufacturers are traditionally strong and widely presented,” electronics retailer M.Video-Eldorado PR Director Valeria Andreyeva told PRIME.
Mobile operator MTS, which also runs a wide retail chain, said in a statement that the shift of interest to the smartphones in the mid-price segment from the premium models was the main trend of January–March.
“The 20,000 to 40,000 ruble price segment demonstrated the strongest dynamics in January–March with the sales of such gadgets spiking by 90% in comparison to the same period last year. Demand for the devices with a price tag of over 50,000 rubles, which rose throughout 2021, slowed down – their sales remained flat on the year in the first quarter and plunged by 30% in March,” MTS said.
A spokesperson for marketplace Ozon told PRIME that the company’s March sales of smartphones increased by 30% on the year in money terms and 26% in units.
“In the first month of spring, we saw increased interest to the budget segment devices with a price below 30,000 rubles. The share of sales of such devices on Ozon gained 5 percentage points on the year. Correspondingly, the category’s average check also sagged – it decreased by 12% on the year,” the spokesperson said.
MTS said consumer demand was battered on the back of the plummeting ruble and the need to stockpile on other goods.
“Instead of pricey models, buyers opted for more balanced options with the necessary range of features, like a big display, a long battery life, and a large storage space. Besides, according to research data, demand for food, construction materials, furniture, pet goods, and other categories increased at the end of February and early March,” MTS said.
According to the operator, the nationwide smartphone sales advanced by 15% on the year to 177 billion rubles in January–March and 1.5% to 6.5 million devices.
In money terms, Apple – which paused all product sales in the country on March 1 – led with 42% of total sales, and was followed by Samsung with 28.2%, Xiaomi with 15.8%, Realme with 4.5%, and Honor with 3.4%.
In units, Samsung had 33% of the market, while Xiaomi with its sub-brand Poco went next with 25.8%, Apple had 15.5%, Realme 8.3%, and Honor 3.5%.
Andreyeva at M.Video-Eldorado said that the share of the Chinese brands reached 55–60% in units in the last weeks of March.
The Ozon spokesperson said the company has a stock of goods. “We see hot demand for smartphones by the Chinese brands on the Android operating system. Xiaomi and Honor are among the bestsellers in units. In money terms, the March picks were iPhones – the iPhone 11 models in different modifications were ahead of the 2021 models in March,” the spokesperson said.
M.Video-Eldorado said it is doing its best to maintain attractive retail prices. “We froze prices for a range of the socially important models of household appliances, including smartphones. We also find the possibility to cut prices and hold promotion campaigns together with the vendors,” Andreyeva said.
“We’re always in dialogue with an available pool of suppliers and do everything possible to keep and expand our assortment.”
(80.0437 rubles – U.S. $1)