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“Our major thrust will be on ACs, LCDs and refrigerators”
Manish Sharma, MD – Consumer Product Division, Panasonic India, is looking at a sales growth of about 100% in 2012
Issue Date - 30/04/2012
B&E: How does Panasonic plan to gear up its India growth strategy for the coming fiscal?
Manish Sharma (MS): Our intention is to make Panasonic the most trusted brand in India by 2018. Panasonic has been known as a niche brand so far, but we intent to cover the entire spectrum of consumers now. As far as expansion is concerned, we will continue to launch products customised for Indian consumers. While our ‘Lifestyle Research Centre’ will play a major role in identifying the changing needs of the consumer, targeting the youth will be a key aspect of the strategy.

B&E: But Panasonic is present in several product categories. How can you focus equally on each of them? Doesn’t diversification dilute the overall focus?
MS: On the contrary, it is the strength of our company because we believe in providing every solution to our consumers. And it’s through a simple two-step process: One, proposing a product suitable for their lifestyle, and second by providing the solution. Other brands may have consumer products, but they may not have system products, health related products, education products, and communication related products.

B&E: What is your strategy as the head of Panasonic India?
MS: It’s like a pyramid; we have classified our solutions into three parts. We call them the first, second and third engine of growth. The first engine products include AC and flat panels; the second engine products are fridge, washing machines and digital cameras; and the third engine products are the remaining products like beauty care, life innovation series for energy needs in rural areas.

B&E: Still, most Panasonic products are household items. How about catering to the youth?
MS: The important thing is to expand the product base or the consumer base. However, if I have to say, we are now focussing a lot on digital cameras and beauty care products for the youth. We have had a lot of success in these categories. In fact, we doubled our sales in the beauty care category last year. Furthermore, we are coming out with India specific products in near future.

B&E: What investments are you looking at for next fiscal?
MS: The total investment that we are looking at is roughly Rs.4 billion which is significantly for promoting our products through advertisements and other promotional activities apart from factory investments. We have already announced that between 2010 and 2015, we would be investing $300 million in India, which will take care of our marketing, factory, and R&D needs.

B&E: This is perhaps the first time that a Japanese or a Korean company has appointed an Indian to such a high position. How do you personally feel about that?
MS: Panasonic considers all its human resource as global citizens. They believe that a right person should be at the right location. If they find me suitable for any other location then they would throw that opportunity at me too. It’s not about an Indian leading an Indian company, it is about the right person leading the right company or position. Localisation, harmonisation and communication. Based on these keywords we will execute our strategy in India.

B&E: What are your revenue targets for the consumer sales division for FY2012?
MS: Despite being a tough year for consumer durables companies, we are looking at doubling our revenues from the consumer sales division. That roughly turns out to roughly Rs.32 billion, or almost 55% of Panasonic India’s total revenues.


Deepti Singh           

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