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Narrow focused, short term strategy always fails: Kodak on the Indian TV market

DECCAN CHRONICLE.
Published Jun 25, 2018, 10:05 am IST
Updated Jun 25, 2018, 10:10 am IST
Kodak aims to ensure that they build and scale their offerings in a steady and sustainable manner to ensure customer loyalty.
Kodak HD LED TV is claimed as one of the top 5 TV brands available online.
 Kodak HD LED TV is claimed as one of the top 5 TV brands available online.

Televisions in India are getting cheaper and brands are managing to fit high-end specifications in televisions that are barely quarter the price they once were. Super Plastronics is one of the companies and they have revived brands such as Kodak in India.

Televisions from these brands are doing exceedingly well in the Indian market and with aggressive marketing and deals through online channel partners like Flipkart, sales for these televisions are skyrocketing.

 

We interviewed Super Plastronics CEO and Director, Avneet Singh Marwah and he shed light on what is in store for the company moving forward.

DC: Please tell us about the recent developments in the company in the past one year.

AM: Over the past year, Kodak HD LED TVs has made its offline debut in states like Gujarat, UP, Karnataka, Orissa and Uttarakhand. This year, we plan to launch our products in 10 more states. In terms of modern offline retailing, we are present in places like Croma, Max, Aditya Birla Group etc. This year, consumers will see our presence expanding in modern retail counters.
Kodak currently has 28 offices Pan India and through our existing distribution channel, enter more offline trade aided by our current infrastructure of 350 service centres.

 

DC: Kodak HD LED TV is a now a well-known brand in the market. How have you been able to build a market for yourself in the past two years?

AM: For the past 2 years, we have been adapting and learning so much from the market. With all this learning experience, we try and produce more technologically advanced products. Through this effort, therefore Kodak HD LED TV is one of the top 5 brands of TVs available online and we have got a fantastic response from the customers. We have 4+ reviews on all our SKUs. Kodak has a long history of 127 years. It offers the kind of nostalgia that stays connected with the customers. Kodak is world’s most popular brand after Apple, Pepsi, and McDonald's. So, the kind of brand equity it has fostered in India is terrific. When people think of Kodak today, it connects them to all the Kodak moments they have hitherto experienced. Therefore, the love and affection given to the brand stem from nostalgia and an expectation of good quality. This is what ultimately works in positioning and s what really works in making Kodak HD LED TVs one of the highly sought-after brands in the market

 

DC: What are your thoughts on the recent decline in customs duty on TV parts? How will this affect the market?

AM: The decline in customs duty has been an encouraging sign for the manufactures in India. Whenever there is a price point that is beneficial for the customers, there has always been a growth in sales, uplifting the sentiments in the market. We don’t support the idea of imposing a duty on items that are not manufactured in India. We do, however, support local manufacturing and it has been unfortunate that panel glass has not been manufactured in India. This would have helped boost the market and the ‘Make In India’ initiative

 

DC: How are you planning to revamp your channel and distribution strategies?

AM: We have different strategies for our sales on different platforms. For example, in U.P and Karnataka, currently, we are conducting our business with top distributors in the regions.  I feel that the demand for affordable category brands is increasing in the offline market as well. The Indian market has started responding well to these brands, which was a situation seemingly impossible a few years back. Today, top retailers want to keep the best affordable technology brands like Kodak, on their shelves so that they cater to all segments of the society and to attract those who look for quality products at affordable price points. Therefore, our strategies for the offline channel is massive. Currently, we have developed infrastructure in 12 states in the country and by 2019, look to expand across 15 more.

 

DC: What are your Make in India plans and SPPL’s contribution towards the initiative.

AM: The Kodak team has always supported the ‘Make in India’ initiative and will continue to do so. We believe it will provide jobs and boost the manufacturing sector in the country. In a span of 2 years, we have one fully automatic manufacturing line for Kodak. In future, we will be investing INR 150 crores in the Make in India initiative. We will also be hiring more employees and soon, we will be introducing one more manufacturing line.

 

DC: How has the Indian manufacturing industry changed over the past two years? How will this encourage the budding manufacturers?

AM: I would say that in the past four years from ’Trade in India’ the country has shifted gears to imbibe ‘Make in India’. Having said that, there is still a multitude of challenges that the manufacturers face but these challenges cannot be changed overnight. Things are improving with the implementation of the newer Government policies in the manufacturing industry, for example, GST. Post-implantation of E-way bill, there will be control over the parallel economy, also known as the grey market. The moment there will be control over this, it will be a great sign for manufacturers. In terms of backwards-integration, we are still assembling in India. We need to have more advanced technologies so that main components start getting built in India, as no Indian company manufactures LED glass panels and 70% of the cost of the LED TVs comes from the glass panel alone. In India, we need interested and relevant technology companies to invest so that major raw materials are available in the country. I have always felt that we can produce a lot of high-quality technological products in India, as electronics is the second largest import in the country after petroleum products.

 

DC: What are your plans for the next two years? Are you expanding your range of UHD TVs?

AM: To make Kodak TV one of the most affordable smart TV brands in India we have worked to ensure that through our existing infrastructure the brand should be available in 24 states and across 18,000 pin codes. In fact, this year we are launching a couple of new models for our consumers and in the future, you will see a complete range of our UHD TVs.

DC: What will be the next big thing after 4K UHD TVs?

AM: Technology like 4K has not yet reached maturity in India, due to lack of software. Therefore, I feel it has a long way to go in the country It will take another 2 years for the relevant content to be fully available in 4K. Currently, it is available only on a few smart apps. Apart from that, it is also not readily available in D2h. Some of the new technologies like QLD, quantum-dot technology have been launched but will take a long time to get it settled. As the trend has shifted to smart TVs with large screens, so, all the brands are now completely focused on bigger TVs with 4K technology

 

DC: Since most TVs are Android, Smart and UHD, where is Kodak in its industry?

AM: Our Smart TV has an open source. Kodak has a sale of about 70% smart TVs and currently, the market size for the same in India is at 40%. So, you can see that we are very focused on the upgradation of our existing products and advancing and building our portfolio. We currently have 55-inch and 50-inch UHD TVs and in the coming months, you’ll see many TV sizes that we will be launch in UHD series. These will not be the basic UHDs, they will be fully loaded UHDs, for enhanced user experience.

 

DC: Rival brands like Xiaomi are importing the TV with similar cost in India, you being a manufacturer based out of India, your cost is still high. Please throw some light on this.

AM: I believe the brands that you have mentioned are focusing more on their short-term strategy to boost sales and hit targets. When it comes to brands with a long-term strategy, they don’t run on evaluation. Therefore, they wouldn’t have increased the price to Rs 45,000 within a span of about 40 days. In terms of SPPL, we are a 30-year-old company and have always kept the affordability and long-term strategies of expansion in mind, during production and pricing. When it comes to business ethics, we will ensure that we build and scale our offerings in a steady and sustainable manner to ensure customer loyalty and capture a larger part of the market share. A very narrow focused, short-term strategy always fails in India, hence SPPL stays clear of that.

 

DC: What are your plans to beat the competition with better features and lower cost?

AM: After the launch of Kodak HD LED TVs, we have successfully captured a chunk of the market share of smart TVs in India. One of the reasons for this is the TV specs; the kind of specs that we offer our customers is of the best kind of technology.  Example- Kodak only uses Samsung display glass and 0 dot panel in all of their LED TVs. Apart from that, if we talk about the smart features we offer we have facilities to download most of the smart TV apps on our televisions. We offer a 20-watt sound quality as we have been studying the Indian consumer behaviour. The basis that, we have developed our products accordingly. Therefore, we are increasing our market share in the country, through continuous R&D

 

DC: What’s your take on the recent acquisition of Flipkart by Walmart? How is it going to affect Kodak HD LED TVs?

AM: The kind of strength that Flipkart has provided brands across the spectrum is phenomenal. The platform provides great motivation for all entrepreneurs in India to showcase their products. A decade ago, no one would have imagined that something like this could have ever occurred, so to watch this deal come alive is a great achievement.

A few years earlier, the mindset was that only big business houses can succeed in India and that start-ups have no future. But thanks to Binny and Sachin Bansal, they have really changed the mindset of Indian manufacturers and consumers. They showed everyone that dreams can become true. A clear sign is that Walmart has acquired Flipkart for $16 billion, a valuation of over $20 billion, which makes it the world's biggest e-commerce deal. This will really open the market as currently, Flipkart has more than 100 million registered customers. After this deal they will target 150 million, serving 20,000 pin codes in India. This will really benefit the tier 3 and rural sector in the country. In the past, Walmart has tried to enter the Indian market, but they didn’t have the best experience with it. Taking the learnings from that foray and implementing them through this deal, their synchronization with the Flipkart team should be highly profitable. Since Flipkart has a wonderful understanding of the Indian consumer market, the risks they have taken have also paid off and have ensured the growth of the company.

 

Over the past two years of doing business with Flipkart, they have changed the ecosystem of selling in India. The kind of aggressiveness that Flipkart has shown, and the kind of market shares it has achieved, credit to their team for having done a tremendous job. At a time when it was becoming difficult to find shelf space and affordable brands were jostling with each other for an upper hand in the offline market, it was Flipkart who facilitated the online space and gave them an equal share. They have really opened the window and raised the bar for all the technology companies in India. We need to thank Flipkart for giving Kodak visibility across India and making it one of the most trusted TVTelevisions brands online. The kind of trust Flipkart has shown towards affordable categories is phenomenal. We wish them all the very best for the deal and for their future.

 

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