Alcatel has achieved 10.5% market share in the UK, rapidly overtaking declining giants LG, Microsoft, Sony and HTC.
The figure, reported by GfK, relates to market share across the feature and smartphone market, although Alcatel’s director William Paterson explained to Mobile that this reflects more than the brand’s traditional strength in feature devices, stating, ‘We’re number three overall, we’re number one in feature phones, we’re number one in pre-pay and we’re number three in smartphones alone as well. So it’s not just feature phones that are pushing us up into that third overall position.’
When asked by Mobile where this growth stems from, the director stated, ‘I think it’s always nice to think that it can be attributed to one aspect but in truth it’s a combination of everything but it always starts with great product, you’ve got to have great quality, great specs and a great consumer proposition.
'This has impacts throughout the chain, our return rate is under 1% in warranty which is incredible, that’s across all of our products and this helps in maintaining a really close relationship not just with our consumers, but with our retail and network partners as well.’
The brand expanded both the number of stockists and the range of devices stocked in each location throughout 2016 and their products can now be found in 20,000 stores in the UK. Telling Mobile that the secret to this expansion is ‘very hard work’, Paterson added ‘it’s all about speaking with the carriers, retailers and distribution to get into new locations as well. It’s a team effort, getting the product team and the supply chain working well together, the key really is legwork in growing those channel relationships.’
In support of this newly enlarged retail presence, 2016 also saw the launch of their ‘Tech Team’, a field marketing team working to support these products. Describing their impact, the Alcatel boss said, ‘I can’t state highly enough how important our field marketing teams are, we started it in April last year, it’s my biggest investment in the country and we spent a lot of time getting the right people to represent the brand, to go into stores and develop relationships. It’s not aggressive, there are no targets, it’s just about making store staff’s jobs a little bit easier. It can be a hard job in store, so anything we can do to help them by giving them what they need to sell just makes their life that little bit easier.’
Qualifying the success of both their retail team and the product, he also mentioned the latest edition to Alcatel’s trophy cabinet stating, ‘We won the iSellMobile Award for Best Budget Handset which was voted for not by panels but by retail staff, that for us is a really important achievement.’
Paterson also commented on the predictions of shifting balances between the highstreet and online stating, ‘I think I’ve seen that by 2020 50% of all smartphone sales will be online, I’m not sure it will be that quick but our own online sales are growing, we tend to do well in online channels that have bricks and mortars as well.’
Outside of the consumer space, the brand – and their distribution partners (Data Select, Brightstar and Exertis) also found success in the enterprise market, ‘We’ve made good progress in the enterprise channel, we reckon that last year we had around 300 corporate, SME and government bodies which was up about 20% year on year, so it’s a welcome part of our business.’
Discussing the growing market trend of declining 24 month contracts in favour of SIM only agreements, Paterson detailed how their diversified customer type insulates Alcatel from the impact of increasing product lifecycles. ‘What you’ve got to remember is that we sell a lot of devices in the pre-pay space which also doesn’t have that 24 month cycle. Research shows that people upgrade their handset every six to seven months on pre-pay, we’ve only been in the open market for about three years, we’ve done really well in it so far and we see it as an opportunity for us. There’s a lot of SIM free channels we’re looking to gain access to.’
Another element Alcatel is looking to grow is their position in the VR market, with research this week suggesting a 390% market size increase by 2020, the director told Mobile, ‘Absolutely VR is a strong focus for us. We launch the Idol 4 last year with our first VR device, I think the VR market is still in its infancy which is why you get figures like 390% growth, but yes we will continue to have VR products as we move forward.’