Cheap trading brands are our biggest challenge, says Avneet Singh Marwah

Avneet Singh Marwah, Director and CEO, Super Plastronics (exclusive licensee of Thomson in India)
Flash sales on web-based marketplaces are increasingly becoming popular among electronic goods manufacturers. What are the advantages and disadvantages of this strategy?

To begin with, we are the first television brand to go on a flash sale. Others have tried too, but for mobiles. We have gone exclusively online. Thomson is Europe’s favourite brand and in India too, it was a household name for decades, till mid-2000s (it re-entered India in April 2018). During a flash sale the equity and visibility we generate is much higher than a regular sale.

Is the sales model sustainable? Are you going to continue with flash sales going forward?

It is indeed a sustainable model. Customers do wait for our weekly sales if they are genuinely interested in buying a product. In this sales model, brand engagement is much higher — the brand pull is immense. Earlier , it used to be about generating brand loyalty, but now it is now about generating fans for a brand. We will continue with this model going forward.

And how do you generate buzz around sales?

There is a huge amount of digital marketing involved. An immense amount of marketing is done by Flipkart too on its website/mobile app — they put up banners, divert traffic specifically towards the sale and so on. Overall, we are targeting customers who really want to buy televisions. We cannot share revenue figures right now, it is highly confidential and strictly for internal consumption.

One indicator of success of such a sales effort is how quickly you reach product stock-out. To ensure that your sale is a success, do you restrict production or put out only a limited number of products? Is it treated as a sort of sampling exercise?

We do not restrict production at all — currently we are very confident about what we are producing and we are going according to the plan. Since Thomson’s India launch we have had two flash sales — on April 13 and on April 18 — and during both these sales we had complete stock out.

Would you consider setting up exclusive offline stores?

No, we are exclusive to Flipkart. Our main focus area is indeed online. We have partnered exclusively with Flipkart because it delivers to 14,000 pin codes in India covering every city across the country and hence we are confident of our products reaching the buyer.

The TV market in the country is highly crowded--besides traditional television players you now have some domestic mobile companies throwing their hats into the ring. What will it take for a late entrant like Thomson to stand out?

Thomson has its own 120-year brand legacy. In fact, it is the first brand in the world to manufacture a television in 1930; so you can understand the brand’s confidence and the trust it enjoys in the market. In India, SPPL (the manufacturing partner for Thomson) has been making television sets for the last 30 years, so it is in our DNA, and we know the needs and the behaviour of the consumer. Most other brands would have less knowledge if you just consider televisions. Our motto is ‘Make in India’.

What are your revenue goals? 

It is too soon to talk about revenue, but SPPL’s target is to grab 6-7 per cent market share in TV category in the financial year 2018-19.

What do you see as your priorities in the year ahead and the major challenges?

Our major challenge is the kind of market penetration being done by the trading brands that are coming to India. These trading brands are burning money to gain market share and at times selling without profit just to kill the other market players. These brands are not generating any employment in India as they are manufacturing in China. SPPL is totally focused on the Make in India strategy  — 100 per cent of our manufacturing happens in India, generating a lot of employment as well. Our main priority is to give Indian consumer the best affordable television with all features. Our goal is to ensure that every household should have a smart TV in the digital age. 

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