ZTE and NBA Team up for Sponsorships in Search of Market Recognition


Advertising or marketing can sometimes be the driving force in how well sales will go – that name recognition is very important, especially in easing the mind of the customer.  Tech buyers are all familiar with Samsung, Apple, LG and HTC, but the newer Chinese brands, such as Xiaomi, Huawei, OnePlus and ZTE are still attempting to make inroads into the U.S.  This is especially true for ZTE, which up until now, has mostly seen duty only as prepaid models.

The problem with advertising is that it takes money – look at how much Samsung and even LG spend annually on advertising…especially when you get into the sponsorship of buildings, events and teams.  While ZTE does not have the cash of Samsung, they are trying to do the best they can and have set their sights on the U.S. National Basketball Association (NBA) and three specific teams for now – the Houston Rockets, San Francisco Golden State Warriors and the New York Knicks.  ZTE has poured a significant portion of its U.S. marketing budget into sponsoring these three NBA teams.  ZTE U.S. head Lixin Cheng said, “We don’t have the same deep pockets as some of the competitors, (but) we would like to break the vicious circle of burning consumers money to make them pay more for the same.”

ZTE is slowly gaining some name recognition, and currently hold about a 6-percent of the U.S. market – only behind Apple, Samsung and LG.  They are known mostly for entry-level devices where customers are more concerned about the lowest price than the brand name printed on the outside of the device.  Jackdaw Research analyst Jan Dawson said about ZTE and Huawei, “Their brands aren’t big, so the big carriers won’t carry their phones on postpaid under their own brands, which prevents them from getting in front of lots of customers, and so on.  Both companies have now invested heavily in direct-to-consumer marketing like Huawei’s partnership with the Jonas Brothers and now ZTE’s basketball sponsorships.  It’s an attempt to do an end-run around the carriers and reach consumers directly, to try to force the carriers’ hands into carrying their devices.  I’m skeptical that it’ll work, but these guys have been trying for years to break into the US in a big way, and their market share is going to stay small if they can’t get onto the big postpaid services with their own brands.”

ZTE’s new tagline – Tomorrow Never Waits – was unveiled at the Warriors game.  Cheng says that basketball is big in China and that he himself is a big fan.  He also let it out that a second-generation product will be unveiled at CES in Las Vegas.  Please hit us up on our Google+ Page and let us know if you own a ZTE device or would consider getting one…as always, we would love to hear from you.