Jeff Cao leads innovative mobile smartphone brand vivo into SA as demand for 5G surges

By Fast Company Time of article published May 29, 2020

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Launched just six short months ago in December 2019, innovative mobile technology brand vivo entered the South African market with two economical, high tech phones – the Y11 and Y91C. 

As the world’s fourth largest mobile cellphone brand, with more than 300 million users globally, the decision to tap into the local South African market  – where an estimated half the population use smartphones –  was an easy one. 

“vivo plans to provide South African consumers with a user experience beyond expectations through technology and innovative, trendsetting products,” says Jeff Cao, vivo SA CEO. “Within three years,  the company plans to sit in the top tier segment of cell phone brands in SA.”

Now at the helm of the ship, Cao joined vivo as an intern when it launched in 2011. He has since established himself as a dynamic businessman and is deeply invested in the brand. ““My career started with vivo,” he says. “I witnessed the changes in the industry and the growth of vivo as a brand.”

But with the new opportunity of being in South Africa, comes a whole new set of challenges that Cao is ready and willing to tackle. ” “The biggest challenge for me is to learn the culture and the consumer demand of the South African market from scratch. I believe that as long as we adhere to the concept of ‘More Local and More Global’,  overcoming challenges is only a matter of time.”

In his time at vivo, Cao managed the Thailand launch and ran that office for more than five years, giving him the innate knowledge and experience he needs to ensure the vivo brand becomes more localised and in line with the preferences of the South African consumer – while still maintaining the core values of technology and innovation.

One way in which vivo plans to do this is by immersing themselves into South African communities through their #VIVOCARES corporate social responsibility initiative. 

At a time when there is an insatiable demand for 5G around the globe, including in South Africa, vivo is one of the few companies with a mid-range 5G smartphone on offer. This product is set to launch in South Africa in the second half of 2020. “We envisage that by 2023 when young people in South Africa think of mobile phones they think of vivo,” says Cao.

This article was originally published in Fast Company.

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