FOCUS: Russians prefer Honor smartphones in Q1 on 113 bln rbl market
By Yekaterina Yezhova
MOSCOW, Apr 15 (PRIME) -- Honor became the most sold smartphone brand in Russia in January–March with total sales rising by 8% on the year up to 6.8 million units. In money terms, Apple-led sales grew by 18% up to 112.8 billion rubles. The major local sellers expect the market to continue rising, mainly in cash, and Chinese brands will stay among the bestsellers.
“The first quarter results met our expectations. Thanks to a rise in demand for smartphones in the medium-price range during the February 23 and March 8 holidays, growth in units sped up slightly in comparison with the 2018 results,” Vladimir Chaika, head of the mobile electronics department at M.Video-Eldorado Group, told PRIME.
“Dynamics will be calmer in the future, and the average price will edge up insignificantly. After the start of sales of flagship models Samsung Galaxy S10 and Huawei P30 in spring, the upper price segment and the market in monetary terms will grow.”
M.Video-Eldorado calculated that smartphone sales advanced 18% on the year to 112.8 billion rubles in January–March and 8% to 6.8 million units. Another large mobile electronics seller, Svyaznoy-Euroset, reported similar figures: sales went up 13% to 107 billion rubles and 8% to 6.7 million units. The country’s major mobile operator MTS, which also runs a wide store chain, said sales grew 11% to 106 billion rubles and 4% to 6.5 million devices.
Svyaznoy-Euroset said the average price increased 4.6% on the year to 15,900 rubles, and M.Video-Eldorado said it rose 9% to 16,500 rubles. MTS saw the average price at 16,100 rubles.
“Like a year ago, the average price rose in the first quarter of 2019 because demand moves toward latest models and the possibility of purchasing handsets of a medium and upper price segments on credit or by installments,” said Svyaznoy-Euroset Vice President of sales David Borzilov.
“We expect the market to stick to the positive dynamics. It will be seen most in monetary terms. In April–June, sales will rise by more than 10% in money and insignificantly in units.”
Sales of smartphones with a price tag up to 10,000 rubles edged down 3% on the year to 2.37 million in January–March; sales of devices for 10,000–20,000 rubles jumped 21% to 1.86 million; sales in the 20,000–50,000 ruble segment lost 4% to 710,000 units; and sales in the segment of above 50,000 rubles rocketed 40% to 330,000 units, M.Video-Eldorado said in a statement.
The growth of the upper-price segment was boosted by a start of sales of Samsung Galaxy S10 in March. Preordering for the flagship device was twice as high as the one for the previous model, Galaxy S9, the seller said.
In money, Apple led and was followed by Huawei/Honor and Samsung. In units, Huawei/Honor smartphones led and were followed by Samsung and Apple. These three brands remained the key ones for buyers with a total share of 70% of all sales, according to MTS.
“This year we’ve witnessed a slump in the sales of button phones and feature phones, which are becoming a niche solution for a handful of people. They are replaced with modern inexpensive smartphones giving users access to essential digital solutions,” Yury Labis, commercial director of MTS’ retail chain, said in a statement.
Honor, a sub-brand of Chinese networking and telecoms equipment behemoth Huawei, became the market’s leader in units with demand for the name more than doubling on the year.
Borzilov at Svyaznoy-Euroset said buyers like Honor smartphones for an affordable price, high performance, and modern design.
Chaika at M.Video-Eldorado said, “Honor demonstrates the highest dynamics in comparison with other players of the telecoms market. The main reason behind its success is that the manufacturer tried to adapt prices, assortment, logistics, marketing support to the specific features of the Russian market fully. A flexible approach enabled Honor to double sales in annual terms. In the long run, the brand became number one on the local market of smartphones.”
Honor is present in all price categories with an exception of the premium segment of above 45,000–50,000 rubles. It offers more than 20 models, with the 7A, 7À Pro and 8X being bestsellers in 2019.
Honor’s advantage over South Korea’s Samsung is not huge so far. “They both can compete for leadership. The three Chinese names – Honor, Huawei, and Xiaomi – will stay on the top five list along with Apple and Samsung. There are no other brands to replace them so far,” Chaika told PRIME.
In the mass segment, the trends will remain: powerful cameras, artificial intelligence, a longer battery life, and an edgeless display. In the premium segment there will be experiments with foldable screens: the earlier announced Samsung Galaxy Fold and Huawei Mate X will be offered for sale, he said.
(64.5171 rubles – U.S. $1)