Two of India’s largest consumer electronics companies, LG Electronics India and Samsung India Electronics, are now increasing their emphasis on products targeted at the mass market, the largest segment of the overall market.
While Samsung is trying to leverage the technological innovations and features it used in its premium offerings, LG is strengthening its service network.
Suresh Khanna, secretary general of industry body Consumer Electronics and Appliances Manufacturers Association (Ceama), said, “Sales of premium-end products are growing very fast, but the base is very small and hence volumes are not large enough for consumer electronic companies to depend solely on this category.” High-end products help companies build their image and equity in the market, but their turnover and market share is still largely determined by the mass category, added Khanna.
According to Ceama estimates, high-end television sets, including LCD TV sets and plasma display panels, account only for 1-2 per cent of sales in terms of volume and 4 per cent in terms of value for most companies.
Samsung, for instance, is for the first time, using its “Silver Nano” technology in semi-automatic washing machines that are being introduced in the market ahead of the festival season.
The company claims the technology helps remove bacteria from clothes, something that has been available only in high-end fully automatic washing machines.
It also introduced its “Easy View” technology on conventional flat-screen TV sets (this technology includes such things as an on-screen channel menu) and claims this enhances the viewing experience. It has also launched direct-cool refrigerators with built-in voltage stabilizers (previously, only frost-free models were available with these).
“We are now in a position to focus on the mass segment as well in terms of our product innovation,” said R. Zutshi, deputy-managing director, Samsung India. “Our new focus is complemented by our research and development operations in India, which has put us in a position to customise and even develop technologically-advanced products for the Indian market,” he added.
Meanwhile, rival LG, which says that “service” is crucial for mass-market customers, is now busy setting up call centres and Web-enabled services to reach out to them. “LG believes that the mass market is an important area that cannot be ignored. We think it important to have an effective communication with them,” said a company spokesperson. The company also plans to improve its focus on regional markets. “There is a need to differentiate the brand according to regional disparities. We make this differentiation not only in terms of product but also with packaging, communication and association with the brand,” the spokesperson added.
Ceama’s Khanna feels now that these companies have consolidated their presence in the premium segment, it was only natural market progression for them to focus on the mass market.