30-06-2017 Haider Ali Khan
WITH 2.5 PERCENT MARKET SHARE IN THE HANDSET INDUSTRY, THE JAPANESE ELECTRONICS MAJOR, PANASONIC, IS PUSHING ITSELF HARD INTO THE OTHER VERTICALS OF CONSUMER DURABLES SUCH AS 4K, OLED, LCD AND DSLR PROFESSIONAL CAMERAS. THE COMPANY IS PLANNING TO EXPAND ITS B2B, B2C AND SMARTPHONES BUSINESS ACROSS THE COUNTRY, TARGETING THE TIER 2 AND 3 CUSTOMERS. MANISH SHARMA, PRESIDENT & CEO, PANASONIC INDIA & SOUTH ASIA, VICE PRESIDENT, APPLIANCES COMPANY AND EXECUTIVE OFFICER, PANASONIC CORPORATION TOOK OUT SOME TIME FROM HIS BUSY SCHEDULE AND SPOKE WITH HAIDER ALI KHAN OF MY MOBILE MAGAZINE AND SHARED HIS EXPERTISE AND KNOWLEDGE.
Panasonic carries a legacy of almost hundred years and counting. What could be that one thing with which we can identify with the Japanese major?
2018 will mark 100 years for Panasonic and one thing that has differentiated us from the rest is ‘Technological Innovation’. Be it transition from hardware to software or, adoption of disruptive technologies such as IoT or, AI, we have constantly evolved to meet the demands of our consumers.
How Japanese is Panasonic mobile handsets? What are the critical Japanese technological or manufacturing inputs that go in your handsets?
Being a leader in innovation and technology lot of research and development is done before we launch a product in the market. Panasonic smartphones have always been about the unique metal-body design, quality and technology which we develop as per the requirement of the consumer.
Recently, we launched AI assistant – Arbo based smartphones (ElugaRaymax and Ray X) which understands the user behavior, maps daily activities accordingly making their life easier.
What are your mobile handset manufacturing plans? Where are your mobile handsets manufactured or sourced from? What is the value addition in India?
Panasonic has smartphone manufacturing facilities in Noida factory and manufactures 8 lakhs phones in a month. The investment in such facility has been over a 100 crore and more than 80% of our smartphones are locally assembled. We have also increased our focus to increase distribution channels in Tier2 & 3 cities as we foresee immense growth from those centres. Earlier, Panasonic had presence in 70-80 cities which has now increased to more than 500 cities.
What would be your marketing and promotion strategy to counter growing aggressiveness of Chinese and Korean mobile handset majors – given the fact that now mobile companies are going in for huge, expensive brand associations to gain mindshare and market share?
As mentioned earlier, Panasonic is transitioning from hardware to a solutions-oriented company that offers the best-in-class services to its connected customers. Our products featuring intelligent technology i.e., AI assistance, will be the game-changing innovation in the coming times.
In your India portfolio, what would be the market share of mobile segment?
Currently our market share is 2.5% in the mobile segment
What vertical is going to be your main focus in the coming years? Will it be smartphones, TV’s, air conditioner’s or any other consumer goods?
The plan is to expand our B2B, B2C and smartphones business across India. For smartphone we want to expand our reach to tier 2 and tier 3 cities. For B2B, we are trying to expand the business collaboration with leading partners in the fields where we have technological superiority like storage energy solutions and security and surveillance so that we can maximize the contribution to Indianmarket and for B2C, we will further expand the wide variety of product line-up which meets the various needs of Indian consumers and accelerate the product development which satisfies the Indian needs of security, safety and comfort. We aim to provide products and services that offer more value to our customers.
The large screen panels from Panasonic are quite popular among the buyers. Where do you stand in 4K, OLED and LCD category as of now and what are your aspirations?
In TV segment, we have around 7.5%-8% market share and in 4K we are at 5 percent. With introducing more models in the TV segment, especially 4K, we aim to capture 10% market share in the TV panel segment as well as 4K segment by the end of this year.
Strengthening our 4K TV line-up, we introduced of our 4K UHD TV range - EX750 and EX600 series. Equipped with Hexa Chroma Drive Pro, high brightness panels and sophisticated smart features, the new range ensures that our customers will get the maximum impact from the 4K resolution, enhancing the viewing experience. It also has Cinema Display design to show exactly what the filmmakers intended, by combining wide colour gamut or a Studio Colour HCX2 processor which boosts the picture quality and combines fine control of the physical backlight operation with additional processing to deliver better localisation of black levels. In addition to introducing new products in all segments, we constantly provide new enriching solutions so that consumers get a more fulfilling and extravagant experience more efficiently and sometimes even cheaper than before.
We have been hearing a lot about your Invisible TV. When is it coming to India?
As it is still at a premature stage, it will take couple of years to make it available in the market. But India definitely will be one of the first few countries where we will launch the product.
Companies have started selling the QLED TV’s here. Your thoughts on that and do we expect something similar from Panasonic?
As of now, we are focusing on introducing more 4K TV range. With 4K resolution further enhanced by the introduction of HDR display technology, the market for 4K TVs in 2017 is growing without signs of slowdown. Sales of 4K ultra HD TVs are poised to grow by a further 72% by the end of 2017 and will account for more than a third of the worldwide TV. We recently launched a new series of 4K UHD TV along with UA7 sound-system to provide a cinematic experience to the consumer, with high picture quality and sound, accurate to the filmmaker’s original vision.