In conversation with realme Bangladesh Managing Director Tim Shao

Youth-centric technology brand realme recently broke into the top six smartphone vendors in the global rankinghs, according to the latest market insight from Counterpoint Research. It has also become one of the top smartphone makers in Bangladesh, according to Tim Shao, managing director of realme Bangladesh, who recently opened up about the phenomenal journey of realme in Bangladesh and the company's growth, strategy, and future plans, in a candid conversation with Dhaka Courier team.

Talking about realme's recent success, Shao said, "As a company, we believe in the adage 'Dare to Leap.' We always embrace youth and youthful ideals. That's why we have a very young and vibrant team who are always in pursuit of exploring cutting-edge technology for our millions of young users. In alignment with the values and aesthetics of the youth, realme is focused on providing the best possible phones for different groups of users and specific market segments."

Speaking on the firm's knack for innovation, he said, "Bringing the latest innovations for its users, realme was one of the first brands to introduce the 125W UltraDart charging technology, and phones equipped with the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor. Our phones were one of the first in the world with a 64-megapixel camera. realme was the first to introduce concave vegan leather, brought together with light and matte materials in one design."

"Moreover, realme has a strategy of using the asset-light, short channel business models so that we can reach customers of different age groups and status. For example - we have inked different deals with e-commerce sites of Bangladesh so that they can get our smartphones at the best possible price. We have also utilized the offline sales channel to reduce the impacts of middlemen, ensuring lower product prices for consumers. Owing to all these, it has been possible to reach this milestone within such a short span of time."

Predicting the market trends for the next two or three years, Shao said that realme has observed that modern smartphone users are very tech-conscious and want to experience cutting-edge technology, which is why the premium segment market will boom in the next two or three years.

"In accordance with that, realme is going to plow its revenue back into innovation, beginning initially with the GT series, which will be the only flagship product line for realme in the future. Moreover, realme has introduced a new lifestyle brand 'TechLife' to accommodate emerging technologies (5G) and top-notch AIoT (AI + Internet of Things) products," Shao said.

The company's international expansion efforts continue unabated with the brand's vibrant presence in 61 markets and counting, but Bangladesh is already established as one of its leading markets. Shao plans to keep it that way. "We embarked on a journey in Bangladesh back in February 2020 - and now, realme is focused on the Bangladeshi smartphone ecosystem as we have started investing heavily and developing a premium product line for smartphone users. Our core markets are mainly located in Southeast Asia, India, and Bangladesh, all of which are maintaining high growth rates. We want to ship 300 million handsets by 2023," he said.

Speaking on realme's flat company structure which created a focused team of young people and plans for maintaining this culture as it grows bigger, Shao said, "We have a team of young people who truly understand the needs of young people and are bold enough to disrupt the status quo and make innovations. As an empowering brand, realme has empowered its employees to make business decisions, fostering a positive environment, and such tendencies have helped us grow and maintain the growth rate as a company.""

Asked to reflect on how realme seeks to meet the needs of the consumers, he said, "Our strategy is youth-focused and we always listen to them and design our products in accordance with their preferences. Consequently, already 100 million youths around the world have chosen realme, including the youths in the Bangladeshi market. When we released our realme GT Master Edition on Daraz, all the units of this smartphone were sold out within half an hour. As a youth-centric brand, realme always strives to provide a better product experience for young people by taking their needs, preferences, and gaming necessities into account. In the future, realme will introduce many more trendsetting devices for young consumers as we have collaborated with the world's top industrial design giants.

The brand has branched out from smartphones to being a lifestyle brand, selling both smartphones and AIoT products using the '1+5+T' strategy. Regarding this strategy and sales response, Shao said, "AloT adoption and popularisation is a part of our long-term strategy. Under this new strategy, we will be releasing products in 5 categories - smart TVs, laptops, wearables, smart tablets, and smart earphones. These new lines of products will enrich the entire AIoT ecosystem and provide consumers with more choices for a tech trendsetter's lifestyle. In the future, realme will continue to explore more product offerings, which will definitely contribute to increasing our sales."

On popularising 5G for the youth and young professionals, market, and the role 5G is set to play for the next generation of digital natives, Shao said, "There will be mass adoption of 5G later this year, and it is here to stay. realme wants to establish itself as a populariser of 5G in the Bangladeshi market. So, realme is developing a diverse portfolio of 5G products to offer 100 million 5G phones in the next three years to young users. Besides affordable 5G phones, realme will also bring more AIoT products compatible with 5G for young consumers and the company has already started taking initiatives in this regard. The 5G share of realme in emerging market smartphone shipments went up from 8.8% in Q1 to 15.9% in Q2, according to the counterpoint market monitor service data Q2 2021.

Speaking on what's next for realme, Tim Shao concluded with hope and higher aspirations: "Our realme will continue to focus on its core strength - leverage cutting edge technology and trendsetting design for mobile phones to provide users with the best product. The competency and determination realme will hopefully enable us to surpass mainstream brands globally, and reach Top 3 or even Top 1 position in various markets. We have already snatched away the top position in the Bangladeshi market, and we will retain this position by introducing competitive products and decent services."

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