Fans and media professionals line up to witness the launch of Realme’s new smartphones in New Delhi in November. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Success in India, SEA spurs Realme to go big on Europe with custom-built gadgets

It has been a very busy month for Li Guangyong, who is in charge of the European business of Realme, the world’s fastest-growing smartphone brand, which is headquartered in Shenzhen, Guangdong province.

One day after unveiling the company’s latest 5G smartphone in Madrid in late February, Li traveled to France for a meeting with local partners.

Before the novel coronavirus cases started to surge in Europe, Li had to spend 30 percent of his time in Spain and the rest traveling across other European countries.

Li’s tight schedule reflects the broader ambition of Realme. The company aims to enter 90 percent of the European countries and regions by the end of this year. That’s because it foresees huge opportunities arising in the emerging 5G handset market and the internet of things.

Though relatively new to the smartphone game, Realme has caused eyebrows to lift with its meteoric rise. Launched first in the middle of 2018, the relatively new brand has quickly emerged as the fourth-largest smartphone label in India, Indonesia and the Philippines. Currently, its products are available in 27 countries and regions.

Having shipped over 25 million units of smartphones in 2019, the company now eyes a 100-percent year-on-year growth in shipments this year. To achieve the goal, one crucial task is to expand its presence in Europe, where consumers prefer premium, cutting-edge products.

Riding on its instant popularity among young online consumers in Asia, Realme aims to leverage its “asset-light” model to quickly enter more European markets, Li said.

“We excel in internet-based marketing and we boast good products. Once we find appropriate local partners, we can quickly crack a market,” Li said in an exclusive interview.

According to him, Spain is currently the company’s European focus. Last October, Realme held its first official European product launch event in Madrid. On Nov 25, the first day of the Black Friday shopping spree, its X2 Pro model topped online sales in its class on Amazon Spain. Currently, Realme is the fifth-largest smartphone brand in Spain.

“We are also partnering with a string of Spanish retail chains to sell our smartphones offline. And we have gone through several rounds of talks with major local telecom carriers for cooperation. Very soon, we will announce a deal with at least one Spanish carrier,” said Li, who did not disclose more details.

According to him, by the first half of 2020, the company will organize more events like branding shows in the open, or non-telecom carrier, market in almost all European countries.

In the second half, Realme will hold talks with each country’s telecom carriers one by one for partnerships, Li said.