The IPL cricket tournament already has a winner: Vivo

Image: AP Photo/Bikas Das
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China may not be much into cricket but Chinese smartphone maker Vivo is playing the game well in India.

The brand had spent Rs2,199 crore ($315 million) to buy the title sponsorship for the Indian Premier League (IPL) for 2018-22—six times more than the previous contract.

And it looks like the eye-popping amount spent in the cricket tournament is already paying off.

Vivo posted its “best ever performance in India in Q1 2019 (January-March 2019), shipping more than 4.5 million units,” Singapore-headquartered market research firm Canalys said in a press release on April 26.

Xiaomi still continued to be the market leader in India during the first three months of 2019, followed by Samsung.

While India’s smartphone market posted a measly 2% uptick in total shipments between the first quarters of 2018 and 2019, Vivo more than doubled its sales in the period, the release said.

The #VivoIPL hashtag has amplified the brand’s visibility making it the buzziest brand of this year’s IPL so far, according to media, content, and technology agency Wavemaker Mesh. Plus, it hosted the #PerfectFan contest, where winners stood a chance to win match tickets every day, to engage with IPL’s 700 million-plus viewers.

But once IPL season ends, growth won’t come as easy. “(Vivo) faces an intense battle in 2019, as Oppo’s Cricket World Cup sponsorship and Samsung’s fresh offensive with the new M series threaten to stifle momentum,” said Rushabh Doshi, research director at Canalys.

Already, Vivo’s expanding portfolio in the mid-tier (Rs7,000-Rs14,000) segment has pushed its sales, Hong Kong-based Counterpoint Research found. The brand also signed on Bollywood actor Aamir Khan as its brand ambassador in March last year and is splurging on on television commercials.

It still has strides to make. As of now, Vivo’s market share stands at 15%, double of the 7.3% it claimed a year ago, but still half of market leader Xiaomi.