Joyas Zhu is the Country Director of Huawei Technologies for Nepal. Huawei is one of Nepal’s fastest growing smartphone brands in the country. He came to Nepal last year after spells in Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar and Mexico. He spoke to Onlinekhabar about the future of Huawei in Nepal and the new Nova series phones.
Most phone companies sell their phone through a retailer. Any specific reason why Huawei opened an office in Nepal?
We opened an office here because we believe in long term business. We want to be here for 50 years. Our strategy is to stay here for a long time. We don’t want to come here for commercial purpose we have to leave our mark here.
Apart from selling phones, what else is Huawei involved in?
At Huawei, we have four business groups. First is consumer business which involves selling consumer products like phones, tablet and various accessories.
Another part is selling networking equipment which is one of Huawei’s main businesses. Our enterprise business gives government and police suggestions and solutions on how to use technology in their day-to-day activities.
We have recently started cloud business in Nepal, which is in its early stage. This office has all of those departments which is why I say mobile is only one part of our business.
How important is the Nepali market for Huawei?
It is important but not as much because the Nepali market is not very big. Adding to that, the economy is not developed either. But as a brand, we want to be in as many countries as possible. As of now, we are present in around 170 countries and through all our businesses have served almost 30% of the world’s population. We want to serve the entire world. This is why we try to go to different countries and provide good service to our customers, which helps us build our brand.
Innovation has been an important part of Huawei. What kind of innovation are you working on right now?
Every year we invest a lot in research and design. We spend around 14% of revenue in research and design. It’s quite a lot if you look at it. We also have a special experience research centre in 15 countries like India, Japan, France and USA.
Every country works on one aspect. For example, the French centre works mostly on design. Similarly, the German centre is where our best technical expertise comes from. Recently these centres have produced many innovative products like quad-camera and an AI processor.
Do all Huawei phones come to Nepal?
Only some phones make it here. We are not like other brands which have a lot of products in the market. We only bring those phones which we think will sell here in Nepal.
Huawei only launches 6-7 models every year because we want all models to be good. In Nepal, we sell four series – the P series, the Y series, Mate series and the Nova series along with some high and low end tablets.
What is different in the new Nova series?
The new Nova is young, fashionable and stylish. We have focused more on the camera because people like to share a lot of pictures on social media. Why we have a 24 megapixel front camera along with a 2 MP camera which make the selfie experience different to other phones. We have worked a lot on the design too, which is quite beautiful.
What challenges are you facing in Nepal?
Nepali market is quite challenging. The first challenge is the policies which are quite unstable. Then there is the exchange rate which keeps on changing. Adding to that, the government which increases the taxes. This year they increased the import tax and VAT. All of these factors impact our price. You can see that the price of the phone is quite high compared to the other markets due to the tax rates.
We also have competition from other brands that have retailers bring phone at a cheaper rate, which creates a problem for us.
How much do you spend on advertisements?
We spend 10% of our budget on marketing and branding. It is a consumer product and we spend like any other brand. We do that because we want people to experience our products which will help us stand out. It will help us in the longer run. We need to focus more on our product and user experience than marketing.
Why should a consumer buy Huawei?
We’ve seen that people who buy our phones recommend others to buy it too. That I believe is because our phones are good which is why we have got good reviews.
Our quality is good and our battery is durable. The speed is good too along with our camera is as good as any in the market. The reason people should use us is because we focus on technology and try to make better products every time.
Any plans of assembling phone here?
We haven’t thought of that yet as there are various factors that we have to look at. It’s not easy to do that in Nepal because there is no industry here. Everything has to be exported, which mean a lot of cost.
The policies of the country also do not help. We feel that there is not a need at the moment and if in the future there is a need, we will sure do it. For example, we do that in India because the market is huge there.
Why should consumers look for new Huawei products in the future?
Our vision is to make Huawei the most popular smartphone brand in Nepal by 2021. We also want to make sure our brand image is high too. The Mate and P series has done well all over the world. Now we want the Nova series to drive us forward which puts us on the map which also helps the sale of our other phones.
The Nova 2i we launched last year did quite well capturing 30% of the market segment. The new Nova 3i is doing well too and it is like that the market share will increase.
It might also help us sell our low end product y5 and y6 which has a lot of competition in the market from Oppo and Vivo.
How has the response been for the new Nova phone?
It was better than expected as it exceeded our expectation. The first day, 2,000 phones were sold within two hours. The Nova 3 was out of stock, especially the purple colour. Now the phones have recently come.