High-end models, promotions to increase smartphone sales
The rollout of promotions for high-end smartphones and the clearance of existing stockpiles has the organiser of Thailand Mobile Expo 2022 upbeat on replacement buying of handsets.
The four-day smartphone and IT fair started on Thursday at Queen Sirikit National Convention Center, along with Crypto Asia 2022, which highlights the use cases of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies.
At the event Chinese smartphone vendors such as Oppo, Vivo, Xiaomi and Honor are offering their latest high-end 5G-enabled handsets as they sharpen their focus on premium devices, which remain in demand despite the economic woes.
The high-end segment is still dominated by Apple and Samsung.
Opas Cherdpunt, managing director of M Vision, the organiser of the expo, said the event is expected to drive smartphone demand, even in a challenging economic environment.
During the pandemic, at least 50% of smartphone retailers vanished from the market. Roughly 20% of them have now returned, said Mr Opas.
Smartphone prices have increased by 20% on average because of economic challenges, a weaker baht and flooding, he said.
The market received a boost from promotional campaigns by smartphone makers and retailers, including giveaways, which can stimulate consumer purchases, Mr Opas said.
For some consumers, high-end smartphones can serve as status symbols as many of them return to workplaces following years of the pandemic, he said.
"Users are interested in upgrading their smartphones to have greater features," said Mr Opas.
"Most of the handsets at the expo cost 20,000-50,000 baht instead of entry and medium-range devices, as that segment is still affected by economic woes."
He said mobile carriers Advanced Info Service (AIS) and True Corporation are offering discounts on handsets for users switching to their services.
The South Korean tech giant Samsung is offering a 43-inch TV as a giveaway for purchases of the Galaxy S22 model as well as foldable handsets at the expo.
The event is expected to generate 1.3 billion baht in sales and attract several hundred thousand people, Mr Opas said.
Sales are unlikely to reach the pre-pandemic level of 3 billion baht either of the next two years because of the lack of meaningful smartphone innovations and geopolitical tensions between China and the US, he said.
Referring to Crypto Asia 2022, Mr Opas said he believed cryptocurrencies have bottomed out, with the focus now on real use cases of blockchain technology.
M Vision is working with money changer SuperRich to allow customers to use its MVP coins as a digital coupon to pay for hotel and yacht services.
For the mobile expo, Samsung also announced the shift of its Galaxy Gift privilege app into a community-focused Samsung Members app to ensure seamless services for users.
Chaiwat Udomsrirungruang, director of business and development at Thai Samsung Electronics, said Galaxy Gift has been running for 10 years, supporting customer retention and loyalty.
Some 20 million Samsung smartphones are eligible for the privileges.
Samsung targets 1 million app users a month by the year-end, buoyed by partnerships with 100 brands that offer 500,000 discount privileges a month, he said.
Mr Chaiwat said Samsung customers are likely to use their devices for 24 months before replacing them, up from the 18-24 month cycle seen before.
Sutida Mongkolsuthree, chief executive of IT product distributor Synnex Thailand, said the country is a strategic market prioritised by Chinese smartphone maker Honor.
Synnex serves as a dealer and after-sales service provider for Honor.
Honor recently released the Honor 70 series powered by the Android operating system and Google Mobile Services.
She said Chinese brands are now focusing on the high-end market.