Lava sees a definitive resurgence in affinity towards indigenous mobile brands

Lava completed 15 years of existence on March 27, and is the lone indigenous mobile brand surviving among the Korean and Chinese players dominance in India

April 23, 2024 07:30 am | Updated 08:09 am IST

Lava sees a definitive resurgence in affinity towards indigenous mobile brands

Lava sees a definitive resurgence in affinity towards indigenous mobile brands | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Indian mobile market is fiercely competitive, but we thrive on challenges, Sunil Raina, MD, Lava International told exclusively to The Hindu.

“Our integrated R&D and manufacturing prowess give us unmatched autonomy to innovate for the nation’s needs. We take pride in our self-reliance through in-house design, components sourced locally, and manufacturing facilities with an annual capacity of 42 million handsets. This self-sufficiency insulates us from external vulnerabilities,” said Raina.

Lava, which started its journey in 2009 through feature phones, completed 15 years in March. It is only surviving indigenous mobile brand amidst Korean and Chinese players in India. The brand claims to have a retail network of over 1.2 lakh counters, over 850 distributors, and 700 plus service centres pan-India.

The homegrown company is also the first smartphone maker in India to launch a 5G smartphone (Agni series) in the sub-11k segment.

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In the last two fiscal years, the company said it witnessed “2x revenue growth” and that “Lava’s feature phones owned a 24% market share in April to December 2023 period.”

On global expansion, Raina said, “We are expanding globally, leading to a 19% increase in export revenue this fiscal across feature phones, smartphones, spares and accessories.”

The company has expanded its footprints to emerging markets like Nepal, Sri Lanka, Qatar, UAE and Bangladesh. “In Nepal, we aim to capture a 25% feature phone and 5% smartphone market share by this year end,” expects Raina.

Since its inception, Lava claims to have generated more than 50,000 direct and around 8,000 indirect employments. Currently, it has over 3,000 people on its rolls.

Raina further explained, “With 100 employees engaged in R&D, which is the first and only Indian R&D in handset manufacturing in India, Lava has focussed towards building the entire ecosystem of mobile technology, while generating quality employment opportunities.”

Lava is a contract manufacturer -- meaning they make phone for other brands. The company says that India is emerging as a global mobile manufacturing powerhouse with policies like Production Linked Incentives (PLI).

“Lava was the first to introduce Surface Mount Technology (SMT lines) and foster an indigenous supply chain for components. The company’s international acquisition has further strengthened its supply chain dominance,” Raina said.

On brand value and perception among Indian buyers, Lava sees a definitive resurgence in affinity towards indigenous mobile brands. The company cited a CMR report, which says it is the only Indian smartphone brand with a 68% customer recommendation and 61% user satisfaction due to its value-for-money proposition.

“Consumers resonate with Lava’s differentiated experiences through its no bloatware policy, quarterly software updates, and industry-first initiatives,” said Raina.

Lava grew over 36% y-o-y in 2023 compared to ‘others’ brands in smartphone since it is not a volume player, found Counterpoint. It was adjudged as the fastest growing smartphone brand in 2023 in the 10k to 20k price segment by the research firm.

As per Lava’s internal assessment, it occupies close to 2% market share in smartphone and over 25% share in feature phone market.

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