Introduction 

The mobile device market has become one of the most significant markets to humans. It creates an incredible amount of accessibility to information and tools for anyone with a device and an internet connection. Many companies have since entered the market with their solution to user friendly and attractive smart devices. OnePlus is an example of a company that produced a well-designed and aggressively priced phone that attracted many tech-savvy early adopters. Moving their products into mainstream adoption is their next big challenge. Most companies fail to cross the chasm between early adopters and mainstream adoption. This analysis looks at how OnePlus achieved early success compared to the rest of the smart phone market, customer segments and expansion recommendations, value propositions and positioning that would appeal to a new segment and the best distribution channels for future success. 

Brief Company Background 

OnePlus was founded in December 2013 in Shenzhen, China by Peter Lau and Carl Pei with a focus on producing high-end, user-friendly devices that delivered a better experience at a lower price point than any other devices on the market. Peter and Carl’s research showed that despite a crowded market there was room for a device that didn’t sacrifice overall quality at a lower price. Their first smartphone, the OnePlus One, generated $300 million in revenue in the first six months after its launch in 2014. OnePlus focused on being an international multi-cultural company emphasizing its mission to avoid being another cheap Chinese manufacturer. 

Early Success from Product Features and Pricing 

Peter and Carl generated immense interest in their initial offering. The OnePlus One used the high-end materials and hardware commonly associated with Apple products, combined them with a modified version of the Android operating system. The highlight of the build quality in its initial two offerings was their battery life. The OnePlus 2 boasted a battery life that was nearly double the iPhone 6S, 3200 mAh compared to 1715 mAh. This was paired with a powerful processor that put it ahead of Google’s and Apple’s offerings. Both the OnePlus One and Two featured cameras that were in the middle of available cameras from competitors. While the 13 MP camera from OnePlus beat out the iPhone 6S camera it still lagged behind the hardware available in both the Galaxy S6 and Xiaomi phones.  

Even though OnePlus devices contained multiple pieces of industry-leading technology they were still able to undercut all their competition on price. The OnePlus Two was half the cost of the Apple iPhone 6S with comparable hardware, longer battery life, and similar build quality. 

Marketing 

Customers were at the center of OnePlus marketing. Their slogan “We create together” emphasized their practice of not only using the customers as ambassadors to their brand, but also how they incorporated user feedback into their features and functionality. Soon to be customers had to join a wait list and be invited to purchase a phone. This created an immense amount of hype for the OnePlus One because it built up customer anticipation and made those who did purchase a phone feel like they were a part of an exclusive club. They performed the first ever VR product launch and, despite tension leading up to the launch, experienced unprecedented numbers of customers waiting to see the OnePlus vision unfold. 

This was an extremely powerful vehicle for advertising for OnePlus and they leveraged social media to spread brand awareness. They used slogans like “Never settle” to insinuate that purchasing another brand phone would be settling compared to theirs. They ran a campaign called “Smash the Past” where fans would video themselves smashing their own phones and sharing it on social media for a chance to win a new phone for $1. These tactics worked because of the fervor they created for their phones. Not every campaign was successful, for example, they asked women to draw the company logo somewhere on their body in hopes it would draw more women to technology. It backfired and was seen as degrading to women. They continued to create interest like what Apple was able to achieve through employing a similar controversial and rebellious spirit in their advertising and outreach. 

Persona fit, value proposition, and positioning 

Customers’ opinion resonated with the quality products OnePlus produced. Their company exuded a youthful, innovative, impactful and exciting progression of accessible technology and digital features. This image has a different fit with several customer segments that include tech enthusiasts, design enthusiasts, baby boomers, social teenagers, and business professionals. 

Current Fit 

Tech enthusiasts are the largest segment already aligned with the OnePlus vision. Their motivation to consumer technology early, experiment, and provide feedback directly to the company were one of the key reasons for OnePlus’ early success. Most tech enthusiasts favor the Android operating system (OS) meaning they’ll be familiar with the underpinnings of the OnePlus OS. The custom OS further enforces the unique value proposition of belonging to something different for this group. 

Poor Fit 

Design enthusiasts are a poor fit for OnePlus to target through marketing. They do not consume media in the same places that OnePlus appeals to the current tech enthusiast segment. They prefer apple devices and would be unfamiliar with the Android OS. This is compounded by the fact that OnePlus developed its own OS. This segment is embedded in the Apple ecosystem and are more likely to use apple computers for their work which means switching to an Android device breaks the benefit they receive through complimentary products within the ecosystem. 

Potential Fit 

Baby Boomers straddle being a potential fit and a poor fit. They could be swayed into being a customer by OnePlus’ affordability. Connectivity and social media features mean they can prioritize staying in touch with family and friends. A long battery life also means less fuss over a device and a better fit into their lives. 

Great Fit 

Social Teenagers are a great fit to be a new OnePlus customer. The low purchase price is appealing to parents wanting to get their children a quality device. The social media presence and features mean that this segment is already aware this company exists. Most already own smartphones and are prone to join something that enables their tech savvy nature while giving them exclusivity. 

Business Professionals are another appealing customer base. They consume media like tech enthusiasts and can spend money on a quality device. The low price point of the OnePlus devices means they won’t lose out by trying the product. Their age range positions them to be long-term customers as they leave the workforce. A robust app marketplace would allow this group to be efficient across devices and programs. High battery life would be appealing to them because they would have to charge less to maximize efficiency. 

Value Proposition and Positioning 

The Early Majority 

The current marketing messaging appeals strongly to the tech enthusiast market but needs to shift to incorporate others to secure long term growth and cross the chasm into long term sustainability. To get across the chasm OnePlus needs to appeal to social teenagers who are the next likely group to purchase its phones. The value it brings to this group is the connectivity and battery life of its devices. OnePlus should focus on creating and enhancing features that make it relevant in the market. This segment of customers tends to get bored and looks for new and exciting products. They should position ads on all social media platforms to appeal to a vast majority of this segment which represents 20% of all potential consumers. Social media ad spend accounted for 12% of their total marketing budget. By increasing this to 30% they can continue fuel viral sharing campaigns like they had in the past. This approach emphasizes the exclusivity of the product when friends see other friends and influencers using the phones. It also helps maintain their overall brand image which is important to keeping a faithful customer base. 

The Late Majority 

As the company starts to transition to the late majority it should look to capturing market share within the business professional group. By this time, they would have put out plenty of ads that focus on battery life and connectivity. These were important in the early majority stage but even more so in the late majority stage. OnePlus should enhance the functionality of web and app-based business apps, particularly Google and Microsoft apps. These companies are both competitors to its products so by optimizing their apps they can continue to appeal to the business professional group. Ad spend should start to be reduced on social media and shifted toward ads on LinkedIn, online industry news, and television during news segments. 

Laggards 

After the other two groups have been captured, baby boomers should receive a small focus to capture as much value as possible from its products. OnePlus can once again rely on word of mouth from family members to convince this segment to purchase its devices. 

Distribution Channels 

With the early shift to social media advertising the company should focus on online sales as their primary source of revenue. Social teens will have the greatest chance of interacting with their posts and forwarding them to their parents to purchase the device. As they transition through the early majority into the late majority phase they should partner with Best Buy and because of the continued exposure to the personas that wouldn’t rely on social media to learn about the phones. Business professionals and laggards would be able to test the functionality in person before buying. 

Conclusion 

The mobile device market is a tough one to capture because of the combinations of hardware, operating systems, app networks, and costs associated with producing a top-quality phone affordably. OnePlus could keep the momentum going by broadening their exposure to certain personas in a staged approach. Their mission of being one superior product for all doesn’t have to rely on a one-size-fits-all product development.