“The Indian CE market is mostly driven by price rather than technology”

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Gopal Jeyaraj, country head –
India and SAARC, Anker Innovations

The consumer electronics and accessories market is certainly growing, and this trend will continue in the coming years. The main factor behind this growth is the popularity of smartphones. Yet, in India, smartphone penetration is less than 45 per cent of the overall market. This means there is a huge potential for growth which will, in turn, continue to drive the accessories market. To get more insights into the Indian accessories market, Nijhum Rudra spoke to Gopal Jeyaraj, country head – India and SAARC, for the brand Anker (one of five key brands owned by Anker Innovations), about why India still has not been able to compete with Chinese and ASEAN electronics manufacturers, and how the company intends to strengthen local manufacturing.

EB: The Indian consumer electronics (CE) market is booming but we are not able to beat China and the Southeast Asian countries when it comes to the demand for high-quality CE products. What do you think are the reasons for this, and what are the steps your firm has taken to address this problem?
The CE market is growing in India, but it’s very dynamic and mostly driven by price rather than technology. However, the scenario will change as consumers have started expecting better quality products at affordable prices. This will drive every brand to focus more on technology-driven devices rather than on low quality products, specifically for the Indian market.

EB: What do you think are the various challenges that the CE and accessories sectors face in India? And how do you plan to address them?
The main challenges faced are related to products in the grey market – there is a price conflict between the organised sector and the grey channel. In order to avoid these challenges, we have clear strategies with respect to GTM (go-to-market) and channel deployment. We drive our business through our distributors, which helps us in controlling all grey channels. We also very clearly segregate our products on the basis of price and features, which helps satisfy all the margin requirements of channels. The right pricing to the end user helps us to avoid price conflicts and price erosion.

EB: Founded in 2011, Anker is now a globally renowned brand available in over 100 countries, including the US, Germany, the UK, Japan and China. So where is the company headed now?
Anker was founded in 2011 by Steven Yang (an ex-employee from Google). When it started, Anker was predominantly an online brand, but later we started focusing on global offline channels too, and we now have the leading market share in a majority of the countries we operate in. Anker Innovations comprises five brands, and our plan is to become the market leader in all the five categories we are focusing on.

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EB: How many R&D centres do you have right now? Do you have plans to set up new ones in India? And have there been any recent patents filed for new-age products?
Our big R&D centres operate out of Shenzhen, China. Every year we make huge investments in R&D as that is Anker Innovations’core strength. This is reflected in the technology we incorporate in each and every one of our products. We do not have any plans, as of now, for R&D centres in India. We hold a total of 452 patents, and we are working on more new technology for all our five brands, to make more innovative products at an affordable price.

EB: Can you elaborate on the business model of Anker India and your global plans?
Our business in India is mainly through distribution partners. We have long term partners to support us in establishing a base across India, for all the brands under Anker Innovation. Our mission is to become the market leader in our category by providing quality products at an affordable price. We are making that possible by satisfying the requirements at every level in our entire channel, right up to our end consumers.

EB: You have launched several new products in India and are also associated with Amazon for Alexa-enabled devices. Tell us more about this.
We are very strong on Amazon and we work on making Alexa-enabled devices under most of our brands. We have Alexa-enabled speakers launched under our brand Eufy, and we recently launched a car charger with Alexa, under the brand Roav. We are planning to build a smart home ecosystem using Alexa-controlled smart home devices. We have plans to launch these in India in a phased manner.

EB: What are your marketing strategies that help you stay ahead of the competition?
We focus on our strong retail strategy. We take care of our distributors and retailers, meeting all their expectations, which in turn helps us in competing in this price-sensitive market. Our aim is to offer innovative and technology-driven products to all our consumers at an affordable price.

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