Q. Today smartphone market has become very competitive. Price along with innovative features have become key aspects. What are your plans and strategies for both online and offline ?
A. At present, Panasonic is following aggressive marketing policies, selling via both online and offline channels. For offline, our focus is Rs 6000-12000 phones and for online below Rs 6000 and above Rs 12,000 phones. So we have clearly demarcated our models between online and offline. We are launching 5 new smartphone models in August and 4 in September. Last week, we launched P55 Max smartphone at Rs 5000 exclusively on Flipkart which is selling amazingly well; at present we have 5 models exclusively on Flipkart. Currently, we have 9 models in the offline distribution channel. Nearly, 10 million phones are sold per month in India. In Aug-Sep-Oct 2017, we plan to sell close to 1 million devices (including in online and offline), in 3 months durations. This is a peak season for us every year. Our yearly sales target is 3 million devices.
Q. Some Chinese brands are spending a lot aggressively on promotion and channel. What motivation and support Panasonic is offering the channel partners this festive season in particular? What are your USPs?
A. We will be presenting our devices not only in T1 and T2 cities, but also presenting in T3 and T4 cities. As everyone knows, Panasonic in general is quite a big brand with a wide range of products including air conditioners, TVs, etc. A wide and well established offline distribution channel, with over 10,000 retail outlets across India, is one of our core strengths. We focus mainly on three parameters: design, performance and user-experience. In 6-12k, we have 6-8 models which are quite competitively priced which are doing well. As far as channel motivation is concerned, we have different schemes for the distributors, the retail partners and for the end customers. Shortly, we are going to announce attractive schemes for Diwali (for pan India) and for Onam (for Kerala market). We have Halla bol scheme for consumers, where they can win smart phones. Also we have motivating schemes and bumper prizes for retail partners.
Q. How are planning to gaining edge from your new feature Arbo and how are you updating and integrating this feature in your latest models?
A. Orbo is like a digital assistant or virtual assistant feature. In our latest models, we have changed the Arbo user interface (UI) which will offer extended usability. The new Arbo 2.0 is more user-friendly and gives better comfort on the screen. Arbo is a self-evolving a platform, which is being updated every month, with more application level integration.
Q. Consumers equate Panasonic with big brands like Samsung and LG. Panasonic has some outstanding products on consumer segment like TVs, Air Conditioners, but in smartphones segment, particularly on the premium phones segment, from Panasonic we have not seen that kind of innovation and aggression compared to Samsung and LG. What is your take?
A. As I said, we have premium products like consumer segments like TVs, Air Conditioners, etc but in the smartphone segment, we are going step-by-step treading cautiously. The smartphone market is a quite tricky segment and one has to be careful, because any wrong step in a hurry in the premium segment can lead to a flat-fall. We do have concrete plans for this segment too. You are going see very good premium models from us in the coming months, Sep 2017 to March 2018.
Q. US brands are usually expensive and Chinese brands, though good with features, are less durable. In what way you are better than these overseas brands?
A. Panasonic as a Japanese brand with focus on quality: for us durability, how long the handsets can survive, is an important part of quality. Our handsets are durable even after several years of use; this is one big plus point with us. Next, we focus a lot on user-experience by continually getting feedback from the customers, what they want exactly like good battery power, superior camera features, etc. Japanese focus specially on continuous improvement, 360 deg improvement or Kaizen as they call in Japanese.