The year 2020 saw a paradigm shift in the course of Honor. From being a sub-group of giant Huawei, targeting a particular section of customers, Honor has been catapulted into the centre stage. Fast forward, to 2023, the company has established itself as a force to reckon with in the field of consumer electronics, with a range of products that carried its own stamp. Coupled with a revised marketing strategy and realignment of forces, Honor has made a mark not only in the Chinese market, but also the world over.
Daniel Wang, President, Honor Middle East & Africa speaks to Gulf News on how the company emerged from the shadows of Huawei and made a strong presence.
What were the strategies used by Honor to establish itself as an independent brand?
From the first day of its independence, Honor was on a mission to become a global tech icon and devised strategies to compete with industry leaders in consumer electronics worldwide.
Focus on R&D: Our R&D team is crucial in this regard with as much as 60% of the Honor team dedicated to R&D. Honor has more than 7800 R&D staff, 6 dedicated centers, and more than 100 innovative labs.
Quality: Another strategy was the commitment to quality. Each smartphone is subjected to over 1000 quality standards and tests, covering design, development, materials, and manufacturing, along with 400 plus product tests. This dedication goes beyond industry norms with over 20 global certification standards.
Low cycle time: Honor’s Intelligent Manufacturing Industrial Park exemplifies innovation. With over 80% automation, the production line achieves a remarkable cycle time of 28.5 seconds per smartphone.
Diversification: We diversified our offerings to include smartwatches, tablets, laptops, and more. Our portfolio of smartphones includes the durable X Series, N series, and the flagship Magic Series.
AI push: Introducing MagicOS 7.0 in China in November 2022, Honor unveiled an AI-enabled operating system designed for a personalised user experience across various scenarios.
How did the initial product lineup of Honor differ from Huawei's offerings back then?
Before its separation from Huawei, Honor's primary focus was capturing the attention of the younger demographic. This stands as a significant distinction from Huawei, which had a diverse range of product lineups.
At present, our objective revolves around creating a new intelligent world for everyone through our products and services. We do this by offering a variety of robust smartphones, tablets, laptops, and wearables that suit different budgets. This range includes the trustworthy Honor X Series, the high-end N Series, and the flagship Magic Series.
Was there any change in target audience and market positioning?
Our primary focus continues to be the youthful and tech-savvy audience who have consistently embraced our products. We now offer a comprehensive selection of devices catering to various budgets and price ranges. This range includes the trustworthy Honor X Series, the high-end N Series, and the flagship Magic Series.
Can you explain the evolution of the design philosophy?
Previously, Honor devices featured more stylish designs and a range of colour choices, including gradient colour schemes that were particularly attractive to a younger audience. Shifting its approach from device-centricity to human-centricity, Honor is putting a stronger emphasis on serving user needs with meaningful, purpose-driven technology that offers solutions to real-world problems.
What are the distribution and sales channels of Honor in the region?
In the past two years, we have established strong partnerships with key sales channels in the region, fostering excellent relationships with Emax, Jumbo, Sharaf DG, noon, and Etisalat by e& in United Arab Emirates, Jarir Bookstore, eXtra, STC, Zain, LuLu, noon, Amazon in Saudi Arabia, Telkom, Vodacom in South Africa and other key partners in different countries within the Middle East and Africa. These collaborations enable us to expand our reach and ensure that our products are readily available to customers through trusted and reputable outlets.
Currently, our products are available in more than 1,000 shops in the GCC market, and we work closely with KDR channels and IR in this region, with KDR being given the maximum preference. We are also focused on building our recently launched e-commerce shop — HiHONOR.com, which will provide customers with easy access to our products and services. By next year we plan to open Honor brand store to develop trust among consumers and provide them with the best services.
To get closer to the local people, we started a plan called "4 Local" in Saudi Arabia. These mixes being local with global thinking.
We did four things: first, we aimed to be a local Saudi company; second, we made a team of local experts. The third "Local" aspect involves developing strong local expertise in six areas, which are channel management, go-to-market strategies, marketing, retail operations, supply chain management, and after-sales service. We worked with local partners to create a helpful network.
How did the financial performance and market share of Honor change over time?
Over the last year, Honor has seen impressive growth in three regions – Europe, Middle East & Africa and Latin America – where its shipments increased by over five, six and eight-fold, respectively.
We are currently focusing on the increase rate in market share, which jumped to 70 per cent. The exceptional sales of Honor X9a and our flagship Honor Magic Series significantly contributed to this market share growth.
In the first quarter of 2023, Honor experienced a remarkable annual shipment growth of 500% in the MEA region, indicating our increasing market share. In addition, our year-over-year in H1 increased by 388% which indicates our great success in the Middle East region.
Honor is flourishing as an independent company, and we see Huawei as one of our key competitors besides the giant industry leaders. Previously a leading tech brand for global youth, Honor now aims to become a global iconic technology brand that creates a new intelligent world for everyone.