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Innovation is Key to Our Success: XTouch

Review Central spoke to Jack Lee, President of XTouch and Ashish Bharti, President of Volume Business at Redington Gulf, about the smartphones market in the Middle East

Tell us about the relationship between XTouch and Redington Gulf?
Jack Lee: XTouch as a brand was born 4.5 years ago in Dubai, UAE. We are a home grown brand and we have come a long way. However, we were not alone in this journey. We had the support of a leading distributor such as Redington who worked closely with us at every step. At this event today (felicitation ceremony), we ware here to recognise that strategic partnership we have had with them for the past years and we thank them for including our brand into their product portfolio.

Which markets has this partnership helped Xtouch enter into?
Jack Lee: We started this partnership two years ago. We started with tablets and then moved into smartphones. Initially we started off with the UAE markets before getting into the rest of the GCC (Gulf) region. We have also entered into the Saudi Arabia market along with expansion into the Egypt market where Redington has a strong foothold.

What is the current situation with the overall brand recall of XTouch?
Ashish Bharti: In this region, Dubai is Redington’s head quarters. We look after the entire Middle East, Turkey, Africa and CIS markets from here. We have been here since 2001 and while in India we are very diversified, in the sense of having an IT and telecom vertical, here we are mostly focused on IT.

The IT industry’s been generally growing until 2014, when we saw signs of the market getting saturated. That is one of the reasons why we decided to add telecom to our portfolio of offerings. And in May 2014, one of our first initiatives under the telecom portfolio was XTouch.

So for us, it was a journey that really started off with XTouch. We got involved with XTouch in all aspects of the business, including the packaging of the products. From a distribution penetration point of view, any worthwhile distributor today has the brand on their portfolio.

While there is lack of organised data in this region, if you go by the numbers provided by market research firm GfK, then in certain categories in a highly competitive fragmented market, XTouch is number five on the overall brand ranking. This is a major achievement for a two-year old brand with a two-year old distribution partnership.

Did you come across any challenges in the initial days of getting XTouch onboard?
Ashish Bharti: Like it is with any new brand, there were obviously some sort of resistance from the organised trade, so to say. However, slowly, since we had this infrastructure and relationship with all these retailers, we managed to get the brand in.

It’s been a tough journey – but in two-years we have seen phenomenal growth rates. Within these two-years, there were a lot of “me-too” brands that started. In 2014, there were 26 brands, which we were tracking in the sub-$200 market. I think XTouch is the only brand standing today, with the exception of a couple of brands.

What factors do you think helped XTouch grow?
Ashish Bharti: For me, there are three key factors:

  1. The consistency between the way we deal between ourselves as the brand and the distributor. XTouch is not an event based company. They are not a company that comes once a year during GITEX, DSF and so on, paints the town red, sells products, and then vanishes till the next GITEX or DSF.
  2. The speed of execution behind the entire product and market strategy. So, if there is a change in the market or the consumer preferences, we work closely with XTouch in getting the right product at the right time.
  3. Product quality is also something we take very seriously. Though XTouch is not a top tier brand, we focus a lot on the design, build quality, and the features it offers. All this is offered at the right price tag – so anyone who has bought the product has been satisfied.

Where do you want to take this partnership further?
Jack Lee:
Everyone knows Redington as a leading distributor in the region. This is a company that does everything with discipline, with integrity, and good ethics. We are lucky to work with them on this initiative.

Being constantly connected at the ground level, we are quick to market with the right product and that has helped in growing our market reach further. We will continue to focus on markets we are present in. However, there are lots of other markets we are yet to touch or expand into.

We will soon be launching our new XTouch smartphone which packs in 6GB of RAM,  64GB of storage space and a 4000mAh battery. While many brands have been speaking about such a specification, we are actually the first brand to make it available commercially on the market. Innovation continues to be our major strength.

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