Sharp, the Japanese multinational electronics firm, has launched its new range of smart home appliances in India, with which it is aiming to strengthen its presence in this segment. The company intends to focus on premium products and prompt customer services. Its new range of smart home appliances includes twin cookers, superheated steam ovens, slow juicers, vacuum blenders, bread makers and air purifiers. In an interaction with Nijhum Rudra, Shinji Minatogawa, MD, Sharp Business Systems (India) Pvt Ltd, discusses the company’s business model, its expansion and investment plans in India, and the challenges global players face in the country.
EB: Can you explain Sharp’s business model when compared to that of your competitors’? How much has it changed over the years?
Sharp has mainly been into the B2B sector for office equipment, multi-function printers and commercial displays. We have over 20 years of experience in the business, globally. We started our air-purification business three years back and now we see the opportunity to expand the product line for our consumers. That’s why we plan to expand into the consumer durables segment.
Sharp has now decided to cater to the basic needs of every human being – clean air, water and food. Our target is to provide the Indian family with convenience and a healthy life, by offering time saving, cost-effective and efficient solutions to simplify their daily lives.
EB: What are the challenges you have faced in the Indian market and how are you planning to overcome them?
Though India is a huge potential market, it’s highly price-conscious. We’ve designed our products based on the value they will provide to the end users.
We were initially a B2B company, and service is the most important aspect when you are operating in that sector. But after launching our home appliances range, we want the Indian consumer to experience our products’ efficiency with our proven service record demonstrated over more than five years. We have a qualified and trained service support team that looks after the queries, post sales.
EB: Which of the Sharp products launched recently do you expect will gain most traction amongst consumers?
The product that will gain the most traction amongst users is our air purifiers, for which Sharp has used its own patented Plasmacluster technology. Most of our competitors claim they have better purification systems, but they don’t have any patented or self-developed technology for air purification. Our purifiers also have other features such as odour removal, as well as dust and mould removal.
EB: In India, people are less aware about air purification and its benefits. So what are the steps you have taken to educate users about its importance?
Educating the public is a good initiative to take up but you can do that only when people experience or use air purifiers on a daily basis. It will take time for air purifiers to become a necessity in the coming years, due to deteriorating air quality. The companies operating in the air purification domain also require certification so that people can believe their claims.
EB: Does Sharp plan to set up its own manufacturing unit in India under the Make in India initiative?
We have plans for a manufacturing unit in India in the future but it will require some internal discussions and time, as such investments require a commitment and we have to adapt to the Indian market first.
EB: What is your roadmap? Are there any plans to launch IoT enabled products in India?
We are going to expand our product line in the coming years with a variety of innovations for different uses. Sharp is even planning to expand its home appliances business.