With the Indian economy expanding, global consumer electronics players are showing more interest and trying to cash in on the potential of the vast Indian market. Japan’s largest consumer electronics manufacturer, Panasonic, is not to be left behind. It has changed its focus and has ambitious plans for India. Arjun Balakrishnan, director (operations and planning), Panasonic India, speaks to Sandhya Malhotra of Electronics Bazaar, unveiling the company’s plans for the country.
EB: Is Panasonic India planning to enhance its production capacity in India?
We are developing a state-of-the-art manufacturing unit along with an R&D facility in Haryana, with an investment of about $250 million. Currently, around half a per cent of our global revenue of $75 billion comes from the Indian market. We are committed to enhancing the infrastructure and R&D capabilities for the Indian market and aim to achieve sales of up to Rs 50 billion by 2012.
Panasonic already has five manufacturing plants in India. But in Haryana, we plan to set up a Panasonic techno-park on a larger scale. We will shift multiple operations there and also localise R&D activities.
EB: What are your marketing plans in India?
We will further increase our marketing campaigns and associate more with sports like cricket and football in the next one year to build our brand name in India. In the last one-and-a-half years, our focus on the Indian market has been more in terms of brand building activities.
As the Indian market is highly price sensitive, we would like to engage more and more local talent—those who understand the needs of Indian consumers and accordingly develop appropriate products. This is a remarkable shift in the company’s strategy. Indian consumers are now demanding smart products, with features that make them efficient and effective. But they are not ready to pay for those additional functions not required by them. So keeping this trend in mind, we are changing our strategies.
EB: Going forward, what is your company’s vision?
Panasonic aims to be the No.1 green innovation company in the electronics industry by 2018, the 100th anniversary of our founding. We will make the ‘environment’ central to all our business activities and take the lead in promoting the ‘green revolution’ through consumer products.
EB: How are you planning to expand your footprint?
We are looking at growing our customer base beyond the metros in satellite towns, semi-metros and even rural areas. In the next three years, we aim to be amongst the top three companies in every segment that we operate in. The company is on an expansion spree and is opening exclusive Panasonic brand shops in all relevant markets.
EB: What is the rationale behind acquiring Sanyo Electric Co Ltd?
With the acquisition, Sanyo has become a consolidated subsidiary of Panasonic and will continue pursuing its business as a Panasonic Group company. The acquisition will allow us to enter into the energy business. In the next four months, we will draw up a blueprint for combining Sanyo’s global operations, which include everything from semiconductor chips, TVs and solar panels, with ours. Panasonic wants Sanyo’s expertise in two key areas—batteries and solar panels. Sanyo is the largest global supplier of rechargeable batteries for laptops, cameras, mobile phones and other portable gizmos.