With smart offices and smart homes becoming popular in the country, investments in the Indian consumer electronics industry are on the rise. Consumer electronics now has around 10 per cent market share in the Indian electronics industry, and it is the middle-income group in the country that is investing in the latest tech gadgets for personal and home use. New categories of consumer electronic products, such as wearables, will enable this segment to grow further. In the coming years, 60 per cent of the world’s population is projected to own a smartphone, which will also fuel the growth of the consumer electronics accessories market. This market is estimated to grow to more than US$ 20 billion by 2020, and become the largest in the world by 2025. Electronics Bazaar’s Nijhum Rudra spoke to Manoj Kumar Pansari, chairman and MD, Astrum India, about the various challenges faced by the company in the consumer electronics and accessories market in India, the way in which these are being overcome, and the future of the industry.
EB: What do you think are the various challenges that the consumer electronics and accessories sector faces in India? What are some of the initiatives you have undertaken to solve these challenges?
The focus on ‘Make in India’ in the Indian electronics industry is increasing the opportunities for electronics manufacturing services (EMS) in the country. The outlook for the consumer electronics industry is not always rosy. For every successful product, there are many failed prototypes. The industry faces several challenges such as obsolete technologies, impatient consumers, slowing demand for products, and slow technology adoption.
At Astrum, we focus on every aspect from innovation to revenues, as we strongly feel that customer satisfaction is paramount. A hurdle that the electronics industry in our country faces is the glut of sub-standard quality products in the market, which leaves consumers with a bitter after-taste about the product category itself; this affects makers of high quality products adversely.
However, we update customers on the latest technologies and trends, and then present a solution based on these, taking their requirements into account.
EB:The consumer electronics market is booming in India, but we are somehow not being able to overtake China and other Southeast Asian countries. What do you think are the reasons for this and what can we do to change things?
The love for consumer electronics in India can be seen in the doubling of imports in five years. And it’s not too far in the future that the Indian market will become bigger than China’s. Hence, India will be in a better position to create the infrastructure in the region that China is currently offering. This competition is good for the region and is beneficial. India’s huge market, low costs, and positive noises from the government make it unavoidable for any manufacturer looking to produce bulk commodity products. We’re too large a country and too hungry for electronics, and the only solution is to create as much value as possible on our own shores.
EB:What is the main reason behind founding Astrum?
With a widespread presence in over 40 countries across the globe, Astrum has redefined ‘new technology’ in the Indian market. Astrum aims to leverage its strengths and experiences from the global market and replicate the same in India. Therefore, we are focusing on getting a strong foothold by opening Astrum R&D centres with strict quality assurance practices. Staying at the cutting-edge of technology has allowed the brand to do what we love best—using technology in countless ways to ease people’s lives. Our vision is to think smart and challenge traditional norms by creating high quality products that are innovative and serve the purpose of enhancing the way people live. Astrum aims to make people ‘Experience the difference’.
Our products, which blend new age technology with optimum price points, have struck the right chord with the consumers in the Indian market. Astrum has been successful in dispelling the myth that there needed to be a trade-off between innovation, quality and cost. Our wide product portfolio has seen a positive response amongst consumers and acceptance from the Indian markets. We are quite optimistic about our ventures and are expecting a steady growth for our products. Today, Astrum has earned its place amongst the leading brands for accessories in India. Astrum is more than just a company name – it’s a brand that promises an experience to people.
EB: Can you tell us about your business model and how it has changed over the years?
My personal journey with Astrum Holdings Ltd started in 2008 in Hong Kong. The company’s aim was to enable people get worldwide access to new technologies in the field of consumer electronics. In 2009, we set up our R&D office in Shenzhen, and in 2011 we acquired a subsidiary for South Africa. From 2013, we started diversifying our product portfolio, aiming to launch a new product each quarter. We set up our Indian subsidiary in 2017 and now we have a pan-India presence. Currently, my company has invested ₹ 1 billion to set up its first factory in Andhra Pradesh to manufacture its products locally. Besides, we now have 1500 service centres across the country.
EB: What is Astrum’s current market share and your target in the coming financial years? How many channel partners do you have?
Astrum is currently one of the fastest growing mobile accessories brands in India. In terms of current market position and sales figures, it’s too soon to comment. However, overall the brand has seen a very strong response from the market, which is helping us draw up new ideas and plans.
We are also focusing on building a strong channel network. We consider our channel partners as an important part of our ecosystem. Our partner ecosystem works around distributors, retail partners and e-commerce. As a retail partner, we have joined hands with Poorvika Mobiles in Chennai and Celekt in Hyderabad. Poorvika Mobiles has almost 300 retail stores in Chennai, while Celekt has around 50 stores. For e-commerce, we have partnered with Olympia.
EB: Kindly highlight the functionality and the USP of your products in the market. Have these managed to gain enough traction among the target audience?
The biggest USP of Astrum is our vast range of products that cater to a diverse audience and our adherence to the EPQ (excellence, price and quality) mantra, which has helped the company establish a strong foothold in the Indian market.
We are quite optimistic about our ventures and are expecting a steady growth for our products. We have been consistently registering growth, month on month, both in terms of revenue as well as market penetration. We are glad that we have become a brand to reckon with, for our competitors.
EB: What are your marketing strategies that help you stay ahead of the competition?
The Indian market has always been a challenge because of low price expectations, high competition, the complexities associated with geographical penetration, etc. We are constantly expanding our product categories; for instance, we recently revamped our entire audio products range, and we are also adding quite a few other products to our portfolio. It becomes critical to communicate this to our consumers, especially in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities, to counter the many challenges. We are also planning some very aggressive measures to reach out to the consumers in these cities.
India, being a price-sensitive market, more often than not, quality takes a beating to accommodate more aggressive price points. At Astrum, we spend our energy in balancing the price requirements while not compromising on the quality standards. We also adopt a 360-degree strategy to build brand recall with our consumers, which includes (though is not limited to) print ads, online and social media advertising, etc.
EB: What is your roadmap for the coming years?
We are looking at achieving double-digit market share in the coming years, focusing on our strengths and on our diverse portfolio. We will be aggressive in both new and existing markets. The consumers today need something more — basically, a reason to buy the product, and only great quality will not help. That’s where our pricing strategy helps — which is why we have been working on bringing about a balance between the two. To achieve this, we are constantly focusing on innovation, strengthening our relationships with customers and following smart hiring practices.