Even though the Covid-19 pandemic pushed many businesses into a slowdown, laptop manufacturing & sales saw a big spike. When Work From Home (WFH) is the only option left for many companies, there has been a sudden increase in the sales of laptops.
In the last year, students have been depending on online classes as the schools, colleges and educational institutions have not been functioning in the traditional way. This Study From Home (SFH) has spurred the demand for laptops and accessories.
In the newly arisen scenario, laptop companies have adopted various marketing strategies to make life easy for all age groups- students, entrepreneurs, and office goers. We at NCN interacted with some of the leading laptop brands to learn their strategies.
In terms of IDC, the India traditional PC market inclusive of desktops, notebooks, and workstations delivered another strong quarter with shipments growing by 27.0% year-over-year (YoY) in 4Q20, according to new data from the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Personal Computing Device Tracker. 2.9 million PCs were shipped in 4Q20 (Oct-Dec), with notebooks growing 62.1% YoY to contribute more than three-fourths of total shipments. The growth driver continues to be the demand from e-learning and remote working, leading to a 74.1% and 14.1% annual growth in the consumer and enterprise segments, respectively.
2020 ended as the biggest year for notebooks with 7.9-million-unit shipments during the year. Notebook shipments grew by 6.0% in 2020. However, if we exclude the mega ELCOT deal, notebooks witnessed an impressive 34.3% YoY growth this year. Had the industry not been challenged by the component shortages, notebook shipments could have been much higher during the year. Contrary to this, desktop shipments saw a decline of 33.2% in 2020 as companies reduced their spending on fixed computing devices and preferred mobile devices to manage their operations remotely. This led to a 6.4% decline for the overall PC market in 2020.
“The massive demand in the consumer segment driven by online learning led the exceptional performance of notebooks. Likewise, gaming notebook PCs were one of the fastest-growing categories, further proof of the growing importance of gaming in the country,” said Bharath Shenoy, Market Analyst, PC Devices, IDC India.
Commenting on the ongoing momentum of notebooks, Shenoy adds, “The market saw demand across the price bands and concluded the biggest fourth-quarter shipments for notebooks in India. However, the severe supply challenges for entry-level CPUs and panels restricted the growth, as supply remains much lower than the current demand in the country.”
Notes: Shipments include shipments to distribution channels or end-users. OEM sales are counted under the company/brand under which they are sold.
The trends in the laptop market in India
It has been observed that the laptop market has been growing exponentially because online education is set to grow to USD 1.96 billion and 9.6 billion users by 2021. (KPMG Report). Various companies in India have cited views on the increase in the sale of laptops, primarily work from home and remote working is the major drivers towards the growth.
Mr. Sooraj Balakrishnan, Head of Marketing, Acer India, “While home working and remote learning have been big drivers, people are also turning to laptops for serious gaming and entertainment. The digital transformation our world has undergone over the past year is unparalleled. Growing demand due to changing consumer behaviour and increasing needs across various consumer segments will drive the growth of the laptop market over the foreseeable future.”
Ms. Seema Bhatnagar, Regional Business Director (South Asia), Nexstgo Company Limited, a part of VAIO Corporation, spinning from Sony’s PC business
“The emergence of new buyers post-pandemic, especially students pursuing online education and employees working from their homes, created a newfound demand for laptops in the market.”
Ms. Seema Bhatnagar, Regional Business Director (South Asia), Nexstgo Company Limited, a part of VAIO Corporation, spinning from Sony’s PC business, expressed, “The emergence of new buyers post-pandemic, especially students pursuing online education and employees shifting to laptops from desktops to manage the workflow from their homes, created a newfound demand for laptops in the market. With the new normal compelling most people to stay home, we anticipate the demand for laptops only to increase several-fold in the coming times. With this new consumer behaviour driving the market, we are expecting significant growth in 2021. And the trend is expected to continue for several years to come.”
Mr. Raghu Reddy, Chief Business Officer, Mi India believes that in the current scenario organisations are investing in devices that are at affordable price points. He adds, “The domestic personal computer market in India registered a strong quarter (Oct-Dec 2020) with shipments growing 27% y-o-y to hit 2.9 million units, as per IDC, as e-learning, gaming and work from home (WFH) drove demand. Notebooks shipments witnessed 62.1% y-o-y to contribute more than three-fourths of the total PC shipments in Q4 2020. With laptops becoming a necessity these days, we expect an uptake in the segment. Looking at the current scenario, we anticipate organisations to invest in devices for their workforce for all kinds of usage at affordable price-points.”
How Work From Home and Study From Home are impacting the demand for laptops and accessories in India?
In the last year, laptops have become a major means for office work, education, lectures and also entertainment.
Mr. Sooraj Balakrishnan of ACER shares, “The WFH and SFH have made it essential that every employee and student has his /her own laptop. Laptops became essential as mobile phones have their own limitations when it comes to productivity and learning. Accessories like wireless earbuds have also witnessed a rise in demand. Acer range of True Wireless earbuds have seen a spike in the market, and we will continue to bring in products which allow our customers to live a smarter and connected life.”
Ms. Seema Bhatnagar of VAIO says, “Helping people to conveniently carry on with their work, SSD-based laptops have made their way to success. The comfort and the convenience along with light-weight have aided the laptop industry is gaining more traction. In addition to this, companies are trying to break the monotony with our range of coloured laptops. VAIO continuously focuses on upgrading the laptops with the latest technologies and the best-in-the-market designs to meet the needs of all age groups- students, Gen Z, millennials, and Entrepreneurs.”
According to Mr. Raghu Reddy of Mi India, “With an aim to empower our users and enable them to use the latest technology, we had introduced the Mi Notebook 14 series in India. It gave consumers power-packed performance, coupled with minimalistic design and innovative features and has been very well-received by the consumers. In addition, addressing the growing needs of SFH, we introduced our e-learning edition for young professionals and students with an aim to provide them with an intuitive and user-friendly experience. We anticipate a massive demand in the consumer segment driven by WFH and SFH which are bound to further push up the demand for notebooks and laptops in India. Given the supply restrictions in 2020, we hope that 2021 would be a stellar year for the laptop segment in India, with provider more powerful devices into the market.”
What are the latest innovations that you foresee in the laptop segment?
Over the past year during pandemic companies have come up with a lot of laptop related innovations in line with the growing demand.
Mr. Raghu Reddy, Chief Business Officer, Mi India
“Mi India aims to disrupt the market by introducing laptops with best-in-class specs, premium experience and minimalistic designs.”
Mr. Raghu Reddy of Mi India, “We observed a booming market especially for Notebook PCs in India. In Q1 2019, as per IDC, the Ultraslim Notebooks category contributed to a 25.3% share of the market, taking a Y-O-Y growth of 86.5%. This was owing to factors such as improved mobility due to the thinness of the product and enhanced aesthetics. We believe the thin and light segment would continue to flourish given WFH is becoming the new normal.’
While Ms. Seema Bhatnagar of VAIO adds that Japanese craftsmanship brings ranges of colours, pattern, thin and light category of laptops. She opines, “VAIO’s USP is bringing an incomparable yet seamless computing experience to the users with futuristic-approach blended with technological advancements to illuminate users’ desires.”
Mr. Sooraj Balakrishnan, ACER, says, “Acer’s Swift series of laptops have features like an instant wake, long battery life, fingerprint reader, edge-to-edge screen etc which deliver the experience the modern user demands along with top-of-the-line performance. We also see laptops with SOC processors that bring in efficiency and features like 5G connectivity gaining popularity. New innovations will centre around improving the user experience in laptop usage.”
Which customer segment are you targeting for your laptops?
Indian companies by and a large focus on students, Gen Z, millennials and Entrepreneurs and business class during a pandemic.
Ms. Seema Bhatnagar of VAIO Corporation shares, “Our portfolio includes products for all age groups. We endeavour to be a trendsetter for students, Gen Z, millennials and Entrepreneurs.”
Mr. Sooraj Balakrishnan of Acer briefs, “Acer is one of the very few brands which has products across all segments – from the consumer space segments like work, learning, gaming and entertainment to the commercial space organizations SMBs, enterprises, educational institutions, banks, government and so on.”
Mr. Raghu Reddy of Mi India observes, “Mi India notebook series is designed for those who are looking at devices offering an amalgamation of gaming, entertainment, education and most importantly improved productivity. We call them power users–like students, young professionals etc aged between 18- 35 years– who expect and are looking at their device to deliver a certain level of performance.”
What is your brand strategy and USP?
Indian laptop manufacturers are focussing on different strategies to give the best to the customers in terms of battery, smart use, exceptional build quality and affordability.
Mr. Sooraj Balakrishnan of Acer states, “Acer’s vast product offerings include PCs, laptops, gaming devices, accessories, VR devices, true wireless earbuds, display, projectors, servers, workstations, tablets, wearables and air purifiers. The company is also developing cloud solutions extending to the Internet of Things. Acer is focused on combining hardware, software, and service-oriented technologies from the IoT to gaming and Virtual Reality to open up new possibilities for consumers and businesses.”
Mr. Raghu Reddy, Chief Business Officer, Mi India adds, “Mi India aims to disrupt the market by introducing laptops with best-in-class specs, premium experience and minimalistic designs for our Mi consumers. With the launch of our first notebook series in the market, we focused on blending both power and beauty, and introduced feature-packed laptops, offering best-in-class technology, exceptional build quality and amazing battery life. Our Mi Notebook 14 Horizon edition, features one of the lightest chassis designs in the Thin and Light laptop category, and the 10th Gen Intel Core i7 processor, a productivity powerhouse great for compute-intensive workloads and everyday activities including streaming, designing, editing, etc.”
Ms. Seema Bhatnagar of VAIO briefs, “VAIO wishes to become synonymous with corporate technology solutions and laptops suited best for business environments. Our brand’s USP is it brings an incomparable yet seamless computing experience to the users with futuristic approach blended with technological advancements and Japanese craftsmanship.”
What will be the Future of Gaming laptops?
The gaming laptop segment is witnessing rising demand amongst youngsters. During the pandemic, gaming became the chief mode of entertainment.
Mr. Sooraj Balakrishnan, Head of Marketing, Acer India,
“Acer has been the leader in PC gaming for a number of years which is a testament to our path-breaking laptop products for gamers and others with the best technology at affordable prices.
Mr. Sooraj Balakrishnan of Acer states, “Acer has been the leader in PC gaming for a number of years which is a testament to our path-breaking laptop products for gamers and others with the best technology at affordable prices. Gaming is growing very fast and more and more gamers are joining the PC or laptop gamers segment.”
Mr. Raghu Reddy of Mi India conveys, “The expansion of digital platforms and many youngsters opting gaming as a regular activity are crucial factors contributing to the growth of gaming laptops. Innovations in laptop technology are further driving this trend. We believe the demand for high-level gaming performance is intertwined with the demand for device portability. As a company that is focused on addressing consumers’ demand, we have laid a strong foundation with our first laptop series in the market. As we continue to evolve, we will introduce more powerful machines to meet the growing requirements.”
To Sum Up
The outbreak of pandemic has boosted the demand for laptops as never before and this trend is expected to continue for several years to come. With users looking for higher performance in laptops, the companies are focusing more on new innovations, higher speed, robust designs, attractive looks and higher battery life. More players are going to jump into the laptop segment with better products.