AT THE HELM - B Muralikrishnan, President, Xiaomi India

2023 was quite an eventful year for Xiaomi India. Early that year, the Indian subsidiary of the Chinese smartphone-maker was dislodged from the top spot as India’s largest-selling smartphone company by South Korean rival Samsung. Bengaluru-headquartered Xiaomi India then further slid to the fourth spot. But by the end of 2023, Xiaomi India, which sells smartphones under Mi, Redmi and other top brands, was back to the number two position.

Fierce competition in India – the second-largest mobile phone market in the world after China – and the government’s strict scrutiny of Xiaomi because of its Chinese origin have not bogged down the smartphone and consumer electronics company. Instead, Xiaomi India has been facing adversities boldly and even charting out its way out of crisis, thanks to its President Muralikrishnan B and his enterprising team.

In charge of Xiaomi India since August 2022, Mr Muralikrishnan has led his company through high volatility back to the second spot last year. The Xiaomi India president, a veteran in the consumer technology domain with over 25 years of experience, has drawn up plans to put the smartphone manufacturer back in the number one position.

Mr Muralikrishnan – an alumnus of IIM-Calcutta, with a mechanical engineering degree from Osmania University, Hyderabad – has been associated with the Chinese smartphone brand since 2018. As chief operating officer (COO) earlier and as president of Indian operations since 2022, Mr Muralikrishnan has been instrumental in the brand’s growth across offline sales, service and operations. Before Xiaomi, he was among the top brass at eBay India and had also played a vital role at Jabong as its COO.

With competition heating up, the Xiaomi India chief has kicked off 2024 with a three-year strategy to become India’s most preferred smartphone brand. “With the reset, recharge, refresh strategy and Xiaomi getting its mojo back in 2023, we now have a three-year gameplan to play with, wherein we want to be the aspirational Indian’s most preferred and pioneering smartphone and AIoT (artificial internet of things) brand,” discloses Mr Muralikrishnan.

The three pillars of Xiaomi India’s three-year gameplan involve premiumisation, fostering an integrated smartphone and AIoT experience for users and synergising the omnichannel sales strategy. The handset-maker is looking to capture a significant market share by focusing on premium brand. In fact, Xiaomi’s focus on the premium segment aligns with the growing premiumisation trend, where consumers are willing to buy pricier phones. The company is betting on premiumisation to help it grow manifold in the next three years.

Xiaomi India has placed a huge bet on the smartphone-AIoT integrated strategy, which the company believes that it is uniquely positioned to deliver. The company is executing this strategy right from the beginning of this year with 5G becoming pervasively available. As a part of the revival plan, Xiaomi is also expanding its offline retail presence and balancing it with online channel and moving ahead with the omnichannel sales strategy. Beyond premium handsets, Xiaomi is also increasing its focus on non-handset businesses in India, including tablets.

Mr Muralikrishnan’s three-pillar strategy spread across three years has already begun paying rich dividend in the very first year. Xiaomi has clawed back into the second position after slipping to the fourth spot within a year. It would not be surprising if Xiaomi reclaims its top position well before the three-year target.  

Report By