Through key investments in sports marketing, global smartphone brand Vivo is proving that their marketing strategy is just as important as their portfolio of youth-oriented innovative phones. As it gains market share from giants Samsung and Apple in Asian markets, Vivo shares a page from its highly successful marketing playbook.
The brand is going long on its championship sponsorship strategy—with the Chinese tech company committed to headline as sponsors to key international sports events including FIFA World Cup, NBA China and even the millennial stronghold of e-sports.
Vivo is already one of the world’s leading smartphone manufacturers, with a reputation for its focus on photography and music features. Its sponsorship of the world’s most watched championship, FIFA World Cup, is expected to push this young and fast-growing brand into the international spotlight.
Vivo expects to launch special edition customised phones for football fans and FIFA staff will also use Vivo phones onsite—giving it considerable brand presence. Senior vice-president Ni Xudong explains, “At Vivo, we hope to strongly associate ourselves with the football spirit.”
The choice of FIFA is indicative of its global aspirations—the company sees it building to a larger purpose: the internationalisation of China and a step towards softening European and US markets for a Chinese smartphone company. Vivo’s branding speaks authentically to this active and energetic passion point—hinged on the gusto and devotion for which sports fans are so often recognised.
Vivo’s brand marketing plays off the inherent high engagement values of mega sports events—tacking onto the emotional resonance which arises from these dramatic and eventful games, and the undivided attention-span of the large-scale audience it enjoys.
Last year, the brand also announced its sponsorship investment as NBA China’s 2016-2019 official marketing partner. At the same time, US professional basketball player, Stephen Curry—considered the greatest shooter in NBA history—is signed on as brand ambassador and endorses the Vivo Xplay6 in China and the Philippines.
Vivo is number two at home. In 2016, it accounted for a 14.8 percent market share, a double-fold growth from12 months earlier, according to IDC’s 2016 China quarterly report. The strategy proved itself successful again in India—where the brand sponsored the Indian Premier League for the 2016 and 2017 seasons. With a strong presence in India, the company introduced a customised Vivo V5 Plus for the cricket league’s 10th anniversary.
Vivo has been particularly successful in India where its offline distribution channels have won customers from Samsung and the plethora of other value-based brands in the market. This has helped them secure the fifth largest market share in the global smartphone marketplace, according to the IDC Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker.
Vivo is also moving quickly into a new and equally energetic arena—e-sports—sponsoring China’s professional gaming league, King Pro League (KPL), since last year. E-sports is trending very strongly among advertisers and the KPL is centered around Tencent’s King of Glory, a battle game app which has over 200m young, active players in China.
Vivo’s marketing focus dates back to its 2015 title sponsorship of the Sudirman Cup badminton championship. Then, according to the same IDC report, the brand was enjoying success, shipping 38 million units and securing 2.6 percent of global market share. In 2016, Vivo shipped 77.3 million units, owning 5.3 percent of global market share.