How boAt Sailed to Become India's 5th Largest Brand 🚀

October 7, 2023

Picture this: It's December 2016, and the Chinese storm is starting to batter the Indian smartphone market. Giants like Micromax, Lava, Karbonn, and Intex are losing their footing against the rising tide of Chinese players like Xiaomi, Vivo, and Oppo. Amidst this turmoil, Aman Gupta, co-founder of boAt, a consumer lifestyle accessories brand, knew he was entering choppy waters. But he was determined to navigate the storm and find his kick.

Despite facing skepticism from banks, investors, and consumers, Gupta and his co-founder Sameer Mehta bootstrapped their venture with ₹15 lakhs each and set sail by selling mobile cables and chargers. In their first year, they weathered the storm and posted impressive sales of ₹31 crore with a tidy profit of ₹1.67 crore. Not ones to rest on their laurels, they expanded their portfolio to include wireless earwear products and speakers, growing almost four times in the following fiscal year.

Fast forward to December 2020, and boAt has emerged as the fifth-largest wearable brand in the world in the third quarter. So how did this Indian brand navigate its way to success? Let's dive in and explore the journey of boAt.

How did it start?

Aman Gupta, a Chartered Accountant with a passion for marketing, had worked at Citi Bank before joining JBL in 2012 as Sales Head. Inspired by the audio industry, Gupta teamed up with Sameer Mehta to establish boAt Lifestyle in 2014.

With an initial investment of ₹30 lakhs from their personal savings, they started by addressing a common problem: easily breakable charging cables for iPhones. They sold high-quality, unbreakable cables through e-commerce platforms like Amazon and Flipkart, successfully offering a reliable product at an affordable price.

💡 Finding the Gap in the Market 

In the beginning, the economy/affordable market lacked any significant brand presence. There were some inexpensive Chinese products available, but they failed to meet the expected standards, with their low-quality offerings discouraging consumer interest. However, the emergence of BoAt changed the game and came to our rescue.

Courtesy: ThinkSchool

Now you must be thinking.

With these 4 competitive brands, what was so special about boat was that it is now the market leader by such a huge margin. Well, there are 2 specific reasons:

Target Audience: While Skullcandy catered to enthusiasts and a limited audience, other brands like Mivi remained relatively unknown. BoAt capitalized on this gap, addressing the broader consumer base.

Celebrity Endorsement: In 2018, BoAt roped in Hardik Pandya as its brand ambassador. This strategic move created an aspirational image around the brand, driving its popularity among consumers.

Boat’s revenue & growth model

The company's success in building a strong consumer base can be attributed to three key market strategies:

  • Addressing Consumer's Needs: The company focused on understanding and meeting the essential needs of consumers, ensuring that their products catered directly to what customers were looking for.
  • Fulfilling Consumer's Desires: Recognizing that consumers also have desires beyond mere necessities, the company crafted products that appealed to their aspirations and wants, making them desirable in the eyes of potential buyers.
  • Analyzing Consumer's Behaviour Pattern: Through extensive research, the founders gained insights into consumer behavior patterns, allowing them to align their products with the preferences and habits of their target audience.

To bring these strategies to life, the founders made their products affordable, durable, and fashionable. By building a customer-brand relationship that treated buyers as valued members of the boAt family, the company fostered loyalty and trust among its customer base.

Marketing Magic: Celebrity Endorsements and Innovations

  • BoAt harnessed the power of endorsements, with icons like Shikhar Dhawan, Hardik Pandya, and KL Rahul, along with film personalities like Jacqueline Fernandez and Kartik Aryan, endorsing the brand. This authenticity and trust gave BoAt an edge in a competitive market.
  • The brand also made waves by hosting the first K-pop Metaverse concert on the Loka app. Indian artists dazzled fans within a virtual K-pop arena, offering exclusive coupons for discounts on BoAt products. This pioneering event echoed BoAt's motto, "Do what floats your boat.

🎯 Other Winning Strategies

Some other strategies that helped boAt climb the ladder of success in the audio segment of the Indian market are:

1. Collaborations 🤝
BoAt understood the power of influencer marketing and how it resonates with the Indian audience. They strategically collaborated with popular Bollywood and cricket personalities to capture the attention and mindshare of their target audience. From Hardik Pandya and Rishabh Pant to Guru Randhawa and Kiara Advani, BoAt's brand ambassadors added star power to their products.

2. Ever-Expanding Catalogue 🛍️
Knowing their target audience well, BoAt expanded its product offerings from travel chargers and portable chargers to include earphones, headphones, cables, speakers, and even watches. They listened to the needs and preferences of millennials and continuously evolved their product range, gaining a loyal customer base along the way. Their revenue in FY21 skyrocketed to ₹1,511.7 crores, a remarkable 2.2X jump from FY20.

3. A Smooth Sailing Customer Experience 🛍️🌟
BoAt prioritized exceptional customer service, ensuring that customers were satisfied with their purchases. They went the extra mile by offering home delivery of products under warranty, making the after-sales experience hassle-free and delightful. This commitment to customer satisfaction fostered a strong brand reputation and garnered the loyalty of their fans.

4. Navigating Online and Offline Waters 🌐⚓
BoAt initially set sail in the online market, leveraging the ease of distribution and sales. As they gained traction, they expanded their presence to offline channels, recognizing the importance of catering to customers in small cities and rural areas who preferred purchasing from nearby retail shops. By navigating both online and offline waters, BoAt reached a wider audience and solidified its position as a leading electronics brand.

5. Outsourcing to Chart a Successful Course 🚀🌍
To ensure top-notch product quality, BoAt made a strategic decision to outsource the manufacturing process. By partnering with Chinese companies, renowned for their expertise in electronics manufacturing, BoAt focused on product design, brand building, marketing, and sales. This allowed them to maintain high standards while swiftly sailing ahead.

🎯 Setting Sail with Aman’s Lesson

Some other lessons that helped boAt climb the ladder of success in the audio segment of the Indian market are:

1. Money as a By-Product 💰: Aman believes that money should not be the primary motivator for entrepreneurship. Instead, focusing on building something you're passionate about and solving real problems can lead to both personal satisfaction and financial success.
2. Continuous Learning 📖: A person should be willing to learn from different individuals and take inspiration from various sources 🧠. A growth mindset 🌱, open to learning from others, can contribute to personal and professional development.

3. Complementarity in Partnerships 🤝: When considering potential co-founders or partners, it's valuable to seek individuals who bring complementary skills to the table 🤼. Surrounding yourself with people who have strengths where you may have weaknesses can contribute to a well-rounded and successful team. 

4. Goal-Oriented Mindset 🎯: One should have a mindset that constantly strives for improvement and embraces new challenges can drive continued growth and innovation.

Final Thoughts

BoAt's remarkable success story proves the importance of understanding your audience and seizing branding opportunities where they hang out. They crafted a lifestyle brand that resonated with millennials, creating a strong need and desire for their products. Boat has truly set sail and navigated the challenging waters of the Indian electronics market, becoming a true beacon of success.

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