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How Oppo is using sporting events like Wimbledon to break into Europe (and the world)

If you watched Wimbledon, which debuted on Monday, you’ll likely have noticed the Oppo brand name emblazoned around the edges of a few key tennis courts. The name might not ring a bell to the average sports fan, but the Chinese smartphone maker hopes exposure to these high-profile sporting events will let us know it exists – or at least remind us that it’s the case.

Although Oppo isn’t a household name outside of its native China, the company has made rapid progress. It now consistently ranks among the top five smartphone makers in the world, alongside some other Chinese phone makers. Oppo’s rise underscores that Chinese manufacturers, who have worked hard to shed their copycat image, are increasingly capable of creating products with global appeal.

Unlike Apple, which has made the iPhone a global status symbol, Oppo primarily generates sales from its affordable entry-level and mid-range phones. In the first quarter of this year, Oppo shipped 27.4 million units, according to Statista. Local rival Huawei, meanwhile, continues to grapple with the implications of US sanctions. But Oppo aspires to be known as more than just a maker of cheap phones; he strives for a high-end image.

“A key aspect of Oppo’s overall strategy in building its brand globally was to establish a consistent brand image as a premium and international technology brand globally,” said Jan Harling, former Global Media Director of Oppo. “Oppo’s global sports partnerships, especially with tennis and football events, play an important role in the overall marketing strategy.”

Oppo wants you to see it as top of the range

As part of this strategy, Oppo has done everything possible to keep its brand at the forefront of the hearts and minds of people around the world. He signed a multi-year contract with Wimbledon, arguably the most prestigious tennis tournament on the circuit, to become his first Asian sponsor in 2019. This placed Oppo alongside world-renowned companies such as Rolex, Slazenger, Ralph Lauren and IBM, all of whom can call themselves. “official suppliers” of the Wimbledon tournament.

Oppo didn’t stop at Wimbledon – or tennis. He has since partnered with Roland Garros, also known as Roland-Garros, and more recently the UEFA Champions League, both of which attract global audiences. For the latter, Oppo appointed Brazilian soccer legend Kaka as its global brand ambassador and also offered experience booths, where Oppo products were available for demonstrations for fans. Prior to all of this, it partnered with the International Cricket Council as an official mobile phone partner. Cricket is a national pastime in India – a crucial market for Oppo, and which recently overtook China as the country with the world’s largest population.

“Participating in the most exciting sports tournaments and competitions is very important to Oppo,” Elvis overseas marketing manager Zhou Oppo told CNET in a pre-Wimbledon interview. “The international influence and local appeal of sporting events will not only help build the global influence of the Oppo brand, but also help create an emotional connection with local users.”

Oppo’s involvement at Wimbledon is the latest opportunity for the Chinese company to expose its brand to a captive global audience. The championship is estimated to have tens of millions of viewers worldwide. But experts say being visible and being accepted as a premium brand are two different challenges. It’s one thing to have your logo seen by millions of people at high profile sporting events, but another thing for people to choose your product in a competitive premium segment that counts Apple and Samsung as rivals, say -they.


Brazilian football legend Kaka at the Oppo stand during the 2023 UEFA Champions League in Istanbul, Turkey.


Sports partnerships in the smartphone industry are common. Google was a big sponsor of the NBA playoffs with its Pixel brand. Ahead of its annual developer conference, Google released an ad featuring NBA stars and its first-ever foldable phone, the Pixel Fold. In 2020, Motorola teamed up with the New York Yankees as part of the relaunch of its iconic Razr series of phones.

Whether Oppo’s sports partnerships help it sell more phones or not, it’s likely to be a longer-term win for buyers, as Oppo gives leader Samsung more competition in the foldable segment, along with Google. and Motorola.

“As smartphones have become commoditized, we expect to see a more competitive pricing strategy in the foldable market, especially as major Android vendors aim to use it to penetrate high-end segments” , said Will Wong, senior research director. at International Data Corporation.

“So globally, IDC expects the average selling price of the foldable market (including clamshell foldable and indoor/outdoor foldable form factors) to decline 8% year-over-year. the other to reach around $1,160 in 2023, while the non-foldable form factor ASP will remain virtually unchanged at around $400.”


The Oppo brand seen on center court at the French Open as Novak Djokovic plays in the semi-final against Carlos Alcaraz.


Oppo’s European ambitions

While Oppo has yet to launch a product in the US, it is making inroads in other places. In the European Union and the United Kingdom (the two high-end markets), Oppo is actively creating a high-end image with sophisticated foldable phones which form the cornerstone of its strategy. Earlier this year, Oppo launched its first foldable phone – the Find N2 Flip, its answer to Samsung’s popular Galaxy Z Flip 4 – in the UK and Europe. The foldable clamshell is the crown jewel of Oppo’s marketing blitz for its smartphone division; the company’s first foldable to receive an international release and hit retailers worldwide.

“We want to step into the high-end sector, especially the foldable phone sector, because Oppo believes that foldable phones provide more diversity and flexibility for consumers’ lives,” Zhou said.


An example of how to take photos using the inside screen of Oppo’s Find N2 Flip.


But it’s not just about talking. The Oppo flip phone has premium specs to support Oppo’s ambitions. The Find N2 Flip has drawn praise from consumer tech reviewers, myself included, for its sleek hardware and large vertical cover screen, which might lend itself to more utility than the smaller one seen on the Galaxy. Z Flip 4. It doesn’t offer as much functionality as Motorola’s Razr Plus screen, which lets you watch YouTube videos and enjoy a full keyboard.

Although foldables are a small part of the smartphone market, the Find N2 Flip positions Oppo as an innovator. This helps cultivate a premium brand image, as well as Oppo’s sports partnerships.

“Oppo’s Find N2 Flip actually launched more competition in the foldable market, especially in the field of foldable cases. Its competitive prices and larger cover screen size, which were well received on the market, have reinforced that these two factors have played a key role in consumers’ decision-making journeys,” said IDC’s Will Wong. “So we see Motorola adopting similar tactics in its latest [2023’s] foldable products.”

motorola-razr-left and-razr-plus-right

The Razr 2023 and Razr Plus are Motorola’s latest flip phones. You can see the large Razr Plus cover screen to the right of the image.


Oppo has made notable progress in capturing market share in the EU over the past few years. There are a number of reasons for this, including the great exodus of people moving away from Huawei phones now that the full power of Google software and services is no longer available on these devices. According to IDC, Oppo is the fourth largest smartphone player in the EU with a total market share of 3.8%. Industry watchers say Oppo still has more room for growth, however.

“A gigantic acquisition opportunity presents itself naturally for competitors, with Huawei retaining a small 13% of those who buy a new smartphone [in the EU]“wrote market research firm Kantar in a 2022 report.

“Chinese brands will continue to increase their share of big brands over the next few years as they learn to become better global marketers,” Harling said.


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