If you’ve been paying attention to technology news recently, you’re probably aware that popular Indian brand Boat, stylized as boAt, entered Nepal.
boAt, founded in 2016, is one of the largest homegrown consumer electronics brands in India. Though the brand offers smartwatches and mobile accessories, its primary focus is on audio products such as TWS earbuds and headphones.
The brand quickly acquired popularity and stayed profitable from the first year. The business received increased recognition after Co-founder Aman Gupta appeared as one of the seven “sharks” on SonyTV’s reality show Shark Tank India.
The brand entered Nepal in partnership with Teletalk Pvt. Ltd., a subsidiary of Ramesh Corp.
We got the opportunity to interview Raj Thapa, senior marketing manager, Teletalk Pvt. Ltd., about the company’s plans for boAt in Nepal. The following is the transcript of the interview.
TL: There are numerous accessory brands to choose from in Nepal. How will boAt differentiate itself from its competitors?
First of all, boAt is one of the most loved and recognized brands in India. Because of that, it has had a positive impact on Nepal.
The main principle of boAt is that it’s a good quality product with good design and sound quality, and it gives a variety of options for consumers to choose from.
In terms of price as well, boAt believes that a high-quality product such as earphones does not require a budget of Rs. 10,000–15,000. boAt can give you such products at a cheaper price than other brands.
boAt is a youth-oriented brand that has always defined itself as a statement maker and lifestyle brand. It believes its thought process attracts youth.
boAt is that kind of a brand, and this is their competitive advantage over every other brand in the market.
TL: How do you see the market for audio products in Nepal today and in the future?
The market for audio products is growing. Not just in Nepal, but internationally, the wireless headphone business is growing.
The number of people wanting wireless headphones and earbuds has risen even more in recent years, as phones no longer offer a headphone jack.
Lifestyle brands have a huge market in Nepal, and much of it is covered by gray markets.
People are getting bored of paying exorbitant costs for substandard products. When purchasing a quality product, the price is always premium.
If you look at the competition as well, when trying to buy a product from a renowned brand, the prices start from Rs. 5,000–6,000 and can go up to Rs. 30,000–40,000. However, when one considers the Nepali audience, this is not their market. Nepalis are not likely to spend a lot of money on such products.
So, boAt is bringing products to Nepal that are both affordable and of high quality, making them perfect for this market. That’s the best product in Nepal right now.
As we all know, boAt has also received multiple awards and recognition in India. Plus, e-commerce platforms such as Flipkart and Amazon, where boAt products are sold, have extremely positive reviews and ratings, averaging over 4.5 stars.
We also conducted a dipstick study in India. We had our own team that spoke with individuals in the same age range as those targeted by boAt. What we found there is that the product’s main features are the pricing and quality of the product, which are unmatched.
TL: What are Teletalk’s strategies for quickly gaining market share in the audio products in Nepal?
If you look at India today, boAt’s online penetration is very high. This is why we first launched boAt online through Daraz. We feel a lot of potential customers coming into Daraz and buying the product.
With over 3,000 likes in such a short amount of time, boAt became the fastest-growing page on its brand page, Daraz Mall. Online searches for boAt products are also very large.
So, boAt’s craze is always in the online market. And we will try to replicate the same in the offline market through our network.
We are all aware that the network of its parent company Ramesh Corp is very strong. We are the authorized distributor for a lot of big brands in Nepal.
And demand for boAt products is already high in our networks. It has more pull than push factors.
So, our strategy is to do that. We will be present online and offline. We’ll try to duplicate what the Indian market is trying to do. Our strategies will be similar, using a lot of influencer marketing.
We will increase brand visibility through extensive digital penetration. The pull factor is always going to be there.
TL: boAt is primarily known as a direct-to-consumer (D2C) brand in India. Will the same or a different model be used in Nepal?
In terms of D2C (direct-to-consumer), the online penetration in Nepal is not that high as compared to India.
The online market is not particularly large in Nepal, which could be because the majority of consumers are unfamiliar with this business model.
However, if the consumers want, they can purchase boAt Nepal’s products through trusted Nepali online marketplaces such as Daraz, Sastodeal, and Gyapu.
We, as a company, however, will not sell directly to our customers. We will have communication with our customers through our online partners. And we will continue to operate under the standard business model established by Teletalk.
If you study the Nepali market, you will notice that the offline market has a much higher percentage than the online market. So, online market penetration in Nepal is limited.
TL: What additional services and benefits will boAt provide to its consumers in Nepal?
Currently, we are giving a 12- to 24-month warranty on boAt products. That is the biggest advantage. You can say it is its USP (unique selling point) because even if you purchase a premium product, you’ll not be sure if it’s from an authorized reseller. If it is not, the device’s repairability is severely limited.
If you go with low-end products, the market is covered with a lot of Chinese and gray products. When purchasing such products, customers are never satisfied. They are constantly worried about the products’ repairability if something goes wrong.
With Teletalk’s strong service center network, we can assure customers that they will get good service for boAt products. For now, warranties are the added benefits for our customers.
Apart from these, we will try to make future products even more affordable. We also plan to introduce Nepal-centric products, but that’s a long process because this is the first step we’ve taken in introducing boAt to Nepal.
Slowly and steadily, we plan to make boAt the No. 1 wearable brand in Nepal.
TL: The prices of boAt audio products in Nepal appear to be quite expensive when compared to the prices of the company’s products in India. What’s the reason behind it?
If you land on boAt’s official site, the price you see is D2C (Direct-to-Customer) pricing, which is a customer-centric price. It’s done to create some hype. But if you look at the actual price, the prices in India seem more expensive than in Nepal.
Also, when importing products into Nepal, there are certain customs duty charges that add up. For that, the price of boAt products in Nepal is not that high; we’ve come to a very justifiable price for the Nepali market.
If you look at other competitive brands in Nepal, we are in the same price range. We believe our products are even cheaper than other branded ones. We’ve set the price after careful consideration of Nepalis’ emotions and sentiments.
There are also certain laws and regulations. VAT and tax may apply differently to different products. Therefore, when doing a cumulative calculation, there’s a certain but not vast increment.
Similarly, you may have also heard about how products from India can be brought to Nepal for a cheaper price. But you also need to consider the hassle of bringing it from India and all the processing. Plus, you will also not get any warranty or guarantee coverage.
So, I believe the pricing is in a very comfortable and sweet spot.
TL: What are the upcoming boAt products in Nepal, and when will their smartwatches be available?
boAt has over 800 SKUs. This first launch of ours is also a dipstick for us. We are also trying to understand the market, its demands and sentiments.
So, after this first launch, we will be thinking about other products.
As said earlier, we will bring customer-centric products as per customers’ needs and demands.
And we are also keeping a thought process for introducing Nepal-specific products. Amazing new products will be coming.