Sarthak Seth, Head, Brand & Marketing Communications, Panasonic India talks about the brand’s journey from negligible market-share in certain categories a decade ago to an impressive growth over the last few years
With a new ambassador and a brand new vision for Panasonic, Sarthak Seth, Head, Brand & Marketing Communications, Panasonic India talks about the brand’s journey from negligible market-share in certain categories a decade ago to an impressive growth over the last few years
By Neeta Nair
Q] This time Panasonic has come up with a very glamorous campaign in ‘so much to do’ campaign, what was the insight?
I have been using a smart phone for many years, yet there is so much more to explore. Through this campaign we are highlighting the various aspects of a Panasonic phone which has so many features. Every target group has got something different when it comes to a phone and a Panasonic handset fits into all of that. Also if you see the look and feel of the ad, we have tried to transform the imagery of Panasonic itself with the help of a bold approach as well as glamour with Taapsee Pannu and Varun Dhawan in it.
Q] What is the marketing mix for this campaign?
It’s a 360 degree campaign. For us it’s a TG which is spread across the metros, Tier I and Tier II markets, so television becomes one of the bigger drivers for us. Then we have Print to get into those Tier II markets with a big focus on regional publications. On Digital, we are using our own social assets and are planning activities on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and of course Youtube. Lastly there is radio, which is something we are in the process of exploring. The commercial is jingle based and thus perfectly fits into that radio audience. Another interesting thing is our tie-up with Judwa 2, one of the most anticipated movies for this year. It works well for us because both of our brand ambassadors Varun and Taapsee are starring in it.
Q] What kind of spends are you looking at for this campaign?
For mobile per se as a category this year we are looking at spending anything between Rs 150 to 180 crore. On this campaign in the next three odd months we will be spending close to Rs 100 crores which will include the BTL activations.
Q] You are planning to launch around 28 new devices in this one year.
We want to be more aggressive in the smart-phone market to show the consumer that we have a wider range. The bigger proposition for us is in terms of getting a flagship device. Currently we play in price range of Rs 8,000 to Rs 13,000. So, it’s like can we up the ante and really look onto something in the range of Rs 18,000 to 22,000. That would also help the brand in terms of driving a certain premium.
Q] You said you are going to launch it in the price range of around Rs 8,000 to 22,000. Why not in the entry level segment?
We are not keen on selling cheaper devices, because what’s the value proposition I will be able to give to the end consumer that way. To give them value I really have to have certain features which are beyond the basic. So, obviously we will not be playing into that sort of pricing and prefer to go up the ladder. Something we realized we need to do as a brand over the last 2-3 years.
Q] Two years ago Manish Sharma, Panasonic CEO said that phones will start contributing to more than 35% of your consumer business in India by 2017. Where does it stand today?
It will be in that range of between 25%-30% as of now. That is because there was some reshuffling with the entire business model. Also, our growth as far as televisions and air conditioners are concerned, has been phenomenal. So, that is another thing which is adding up to the entire turnover as a company reducing the share of the contribution of our phone business in the pie. But we are getting there.
Q] You also recently scaled down your growth figures from double digits to 5% in the handset category. Why was that?
It is because of our realignment strategy. We decided to come out of the Rs 7000 and below segment- entry level one. We are also realigning our distribution strategies. So now we are focusing on the next year. We scaled down the figures because we thought it better to revise than to repent.
Q] So what is the growth you are targeting for the next year?
For mobiles, we are targeting a good 30% growth. Mobiles will play a very important role for us in our entire gamut of products.
Q] Some smart phones play on one specific feature like Oppo’s camera phones. How about Panasonic, is there a USP?
When I say ‘so much to do’, I intend to convey that our phones are all-rounders. Not just one, we have got the best of everything. But yes, there are certain specifications we are looking on to focusing, especially in the flagship device which we hope to launch in November.
Q] You also decided to end the distribution tie-up with Jaina Group. How big a challenge is distribution right now?
It’s not a challenge, everything is already in place and that is why you have been seeing the new campaigns and so many new product launches.
Q] How much are you going to spend overall on the festive season?
With all the categories put together—we have ads running for washing machines, televisions and mobiles---it’s going to be about 85-90 crore. This is pure ATL costs i.e. Print, TV, Digital.
Q] How much does India contribute to your global growth revenues?
The consumer business in India contributes to almost 2.5%-3% of our global revenues.
Q] For a phone brand, the new trend is to take the sports sponsorship route for increasing visibility, any such plans?
Yes, we will be focusing on the sponsorship model, in fact 2018 is going to be one of those action years for us because Panasonic will complete 100 years. We want to go closer to the consumer by becoming part of the bigger leagues, some of which is in the pipeline already. One of them is definitely cricket and we had partnered Delhi Daredevils for four years in the past. Also we are global sponsors for the 2020 Olympics to be held in Japan, and as a Japanese company it is one of our global focuses.
Q] In the 90s, Japanese brands were ruling the market before Koreans took over. Where did Panasonic go wrong?
Panasonic had been active in India since 1992, but again, we were more of a sales company out here. Everything, you see today was developed over the last 7-8 years. I still remember when I joined this company in October, 2008 we were a minuscule brand. And that was almost like a second entry for the brand because we had to shut down our factories for air conditioners and revamp everything. In television we didn’t even have 0.5% market share, in air conditioners not more than 1% and mobiles never existed for us then. Today we have 7.8% market share in Televisions, approximately 10% in air conditioners and 2.5-3% in mobiles. The mobile market especially has been very competitive with so many brands present. So I believe we have done well over the years but overall the Koreans have been a bit more aggressive compared to the Japanese. But people even today love and trust the Japanese brands. One thing people associate with Panasonic is trust. Compared to our peers, Panasonic has moved up faster in terms of building brand awareness and product portfolio. But I must say the biggest challenge for us was in transforming the imagery of the brand from one my grandfather used to one that speaks in the language of the youngsters today.
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Feedback: Category: CMO Interview Volume No: 14 Issue No: 15
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