Looking forward to cementing its operations in the country, Panasonic India is embarking on a plan to increase its channel base and enable increased value for its end customers.
Pankaj Rana, Business Head – Mobility Division, Panasonic India speaks with Zia Askari from TelecomDrive.com about the company’s plans for India and how it is creating differentiation in a crowded market.
Tell us something about your key priorities today in India?
My key priorities in India at this moment is to bring products in each of the price segment. When I bring products in each of the price segment, they should give a differentiated user experience. My priority is experience of the customer. The customer should feel good about using the Panasonic phone and spread word of mouth about the Panasonic phone, its different features and different technology.
So, at this moment my priority is to build a strong position of Panasonic mobile phone business in India. We want to be the leader in most of the segments and an innovative brand. My priority is to offer mobile phones to the Indian customer which have a great performance, good design and all other parameters.
There are a lot of brands from China – which are basically having either strategy to bring a number of devices to the market or they are only focusing on creating uniqueness in the market. So, in that direction what will be your strategy?
Our strategy is very simple! As I said, we are bringing smartphones in each of the price segment but our focus is on design and performance of the phones. The phone that we launched today, Eluga A2, we have designed it by keeping in mind even the small details. If you see the phone, there is a metal frame on the screen.
We have used this metal crafting as it keeps your phone’s screen safe. When you will keep it downwards, the screen will not touch the surface and even when you will drop it, your screen will remain safe. These are the small developments which we are bringing in our phone. Another feature in our phone is that it is backed with a 4000 mAH battery and the phone allows you to remove the back cover but the metal crafting will still remain. So, we have designed the metal craft in and battery in such a way that it will remain a sealed battery.
We have also used magnesium alloy in our phones which very few players use. By using the magnesium alloy, we have made this phone 20 grams lighter and it absorbs more heat preventing your phone from heating up. We have focused on features such as magnesium alloy metal crafting and the battery which is sealed. So we follow the design and performance based approach by focusing on each and every aspect of the phone.
Speaking about the go to market strategy you have always been player focusing around the brick and motor channel part so you will continue to focus on that?
Yes, we will focus on the distribution channel. We are a distribution focused brand in India and we plan to expand our channel this year. As of now we have 150 local distribution partner which we will increase to 350 local distributor partners. Also, we are going to expand our channel to tier 1, tier 3 towns and even rural India.
The most important thing is that we want to increase our retail outlets to the 30,000 from 15,000. As I shared earlier, our design and R&D team has added more features in the phone but till the time we are not able to communicate the same to the customer and if our demonstrator is not able to explain it, we will not be able to sell the phone. This would be a challenge in the online space as they only mention the specifications and price. We want to sell an experience to the customer.
How about the service and support part?
Panasonic is considered to be good when it comes to its service. Panasonic as a brand has a great perception and imagery in service support. As we sell TV, washing machines and refrigerators among other products, our perception as a Japanese brand is good. We have 800 plus service center in India.
Though it’s not about the number as any brand can do that. Its about the experience, customer attention and service you provide to the customer. It is about giving priority to the customers. Also, we have policies like tier 1 brands such as Apple and Samsung. Also, Panasonic brand is known for its quality and reliability which is possible only when you provide good service support to the customers.
Your distributor continues to be Jaina Marketing?
Yes. Our all India national partner is Jaina Marketing.
Any plans to change that?
We are enjoying are our association with them. It will bean association for a long term period, for next 6-10 years. We want to be with them only.
What kind of growth are you looking at?
In the last financial year, we achieved INR 1200 crore and this financial year we target to achieve INR 2500 crore. Also, we sold around 1.4 million smartphones and this year we want to achieve the target of 3 million smartphones.
Any plans to initiate manufacturing in India, local manufacturing?
95% of our phones are ‘Make in India’ and our manufacturing factory is in Noida. As of now, we have six assembly lines and three packaging lines through which we can make 400K smartphones per month. We plan to expand it to 12 assembly lines and 6 packaging lines. We will be able to make 8 lakhs smartphones per month
So this is your own facility?
Yes it is our facility with a partner – Dixon technology.