If a company is a big player in the world’s largest mobile phone market, boasts strategic partnerships with 47 of the world’s top 50 mobile carriers and is present in 160 countries and regions globally, it’s more than a little surprising that most mobile phone users in the U.S. have never heard about it. While the name Zhongxing Telecommunications Equipment Corporation, or ZTE, may not yet be a household name in the American smart phone market, many consumers have been using ZTE products without their knowledge for years. Though ZTE have only recently started offering their own branded products to US customers, their aggressively priced and high-performing product line is poised to make a big splash in the United States and challenge market leaders Apple, Samsung, and LG.
Though they only recently started selling their own branded phones stateside, ZTE has been manufacturing mobile phones for virtually all of the major service providers, such as Verizon and AT&T. As of mid-2014, ZTE has, in fact, become the 4th largest mobile and smartphone manufacturer in North America. Moreover, in the prepaid market, ZTE is second in overall device sales.
With their recent strategy switch from providing unbranded phones for local providers to bringing a direct, quality-meets-value product to market, ZTE is achieving substantial results. According to Strategy Analytics, ZTE’s third quarter shipments to the United States increased by 40% compared to 2013. A significant driver in this success can be attributed to successfully marketing the rand to American consumers by means of targeted marketing deals, such as partnerships with NBA teams, and aggressive geo-ethnic advertising in Asian population centers. Most notably, ZTE capitalized on the popularity of Chinese basketball idol Yao Ming and sponsored his team, the Houston Rockets, and achieved a brand recognition increase of over 15% in the first year alone.
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