Interviews

IN CONVERSATION WITH NITIN MATHUR, 91mobiles

In an exclusive chat with Nitin Mathur, Co-founder & CEO, 91mobiles.com., he apprises us about his business model and how the company is now the largest YouTube gadget channel in India with more than 700,000 subscribers.

1. How has 91Mobiles placed itself in the ecosystem? How do you make sure to provide detailed and accurate information about mobile phones? All-in-all, explain to us how a mobile reviewing site works.

We started 91mobiles in 2012, much before eCommerce became mainstream. The idea was to help people find the gadgets that best suit their needs. Gadgets and electronics are products where one would like to research for a few days before buying. There were a number of eCommerce sites coming up, and there were a number of legacy gadget sites, but we felt that no one was doing a great job of making the ‘what to buy’ decision easier for people.

We tried to create the perfect marriage of tech and content to be able to solve this problem on 91mobiles.com. Our catalog team constantly updates the specs of all the latest phones, our team of reviewers test the phones for how they perform in real-world usage, and our product and tech teams have used this data to create an interactive experience that helps people shortlist from dozens of options to arrive at a suitable choice. Just to give you an example, when a user searches for phones priced between ₹10k and ₹20k on our site, they would get 467 options. Our platform enables users to filter and compare these options across multiple attributes such as price, 91spec score, popularity, etc., to be able to identify the best phone for themselves.

In the past few years, we have grown to be the largest gadget discovery site in India, with over 25 million visits and 100 million page views every month. We also have the largest YouTube channel from a gadget site in India with more than 700,000 subscribers.

2. There has been a survey report by HubSpot that shows about one-third of people said that review sites play an important role in the purchase decision-making process. So, how do you ensure to not be biased and place an honest review in front of the readers or potential buyers?

Hubspot’s data would be global. That number is much higher for Indians. In fact, we did a survey recently where we asked Indian smartphone users what their main mode of research is before buying a new smartphone and 45% said they research primarily on gadget sites like ours.

As a policy, our smartphone reviews are always organic. We never do paid reviews. Our team of reviewers evaluate all phones for how they perform in real-world usage through stress tests, battery tests, etc. to ensure the review process is factual and scientific. If you check out our product pages and review articles, you will see that we include the screenshots of various test results, along with mentioning the pros and cons of devices, which no other site (including ecommerce) does. These factual insights help users make informed gadget purchase decisions. And it is one of the key reasons we are the number 1 gadget discovery site in the country today.

We also do content marketing on behalf of brands for their devices. But even in such articles we don’t make false claims about a device. Instead we focus on highlighting its USP. Further such articles are always called out as brand stories on our site.

3. What exactly is your brand positioning? And, how has the response been from the advertisers?

We have the largest smartphone shopper audience in India, after Flipkart and Amazon. And we have a lot of insights on how these buyers decide which phone to buy, what type of content they consume, how much time they spend researching, etc. We work with smartphone brands to use this intelligence to help them meet their marketing objectives.

We try to bring not just creativity but also science to the marketing solutions we offer to smartphone brands.

If you look at the smartphone space, there would be several hundred people who are candidates for buying a smartphone. So, we work with brands to help build mass awareness for their latest product launch. 

However, in any given month, there are 10-12 million smartphones sold. Hence, while several hundred million people can buy a phone, at any given time, only 10-12 mn people are actually looking to buy. Of these, if you segment by price range, perhaps 4-5 mn people would be looking for a phone that falls in the same price segment as a brand’s new offering. It would therefore make sense for a smartphone brand to focus a large chunk of their marketing spend and communication to those 4-5 mn people, who would be most interested in it at any given time.  

Given the vast audience data we have, we are able to help brands identify and target their marketing to the most relevant audiences. Bringing this science to marketing helps significantly improve marketing efficiency & outcomes, which is a win-win for advertisers.

4. Tell us about the challenges that come your way being industry specific review portal. Also, how do you overcome them? Besides, tell us about the USP of 91Mobiles.

Yes, we are a vertical site that largely covers gadgets. In fact, within the gadget space too, we focus on mobile phones, which may seem limiting at the outset. But if you consider how big the smartphone space is, you will realize it’s not so much of a challenge at all. Smartphones are one of the highest searched categories online. In fact, we get more than 25 million site visits a month, which makes us not only the largest site in the gadget space but also among the top 200 websites in the country.

Our USP from an end-user point of view is helping users find the best smartphone for their needs. Our catalog team constantly updates the specs of all the latest phones, our team of reviewers test the phones for how they perform in real-world usage, and our product and tech teams have used this data to create an interactive experience that helps people shortlist from dozens of options to arrive at a suitable choice.

Our USP from an advertiser point of view is our ability to infuse science into creative marketing solutions to help smartphone brands optimize their ad spends. We have the largest smartphone shopper audience in India, after Flipkart and Amazon.  And we have a lot of insights on how these buyers decide which phone to buy, what type of content they consume, how much time they spend researching, etc. With such superior audience insights, we can help brands identify and target their marketing to the most relevant audiences.

5. Because of internet penetration, how has the consumption patterns changed for your website?

It has affected us in the same way as probably most sites. More than 80% of the traffic we get today is through mobile and we have seen an uptick in traffic from tier 2 and tier 3 cities.

6. How do you cater to the rural audience? Do you have any plans to get into the regional dialects?

Our YouTube channel, which is the largest from a gadget site with 700,000 subscribers, is already in Hindi. We also have a YouTube channel in Tamil, which is gaining traction.
And our site content is already available in four languages – Hindi, Marathi, Gujratiand Bengali.