Kenichiro Hibi, Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor of Sony In­dia

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Buoyed by pos­i­tive sen­ti­ment in mar­ket and fore­cast of a good mon­soon, Ja­panese con­sumer elec­tron­ics ma­jor Sony ex­pects sales in In­dia to grow over 20 per cent this fis­cal. The com­pany is look­ing at its TV panel cat­e­gory to drive the growth even as other ver­ti­cals, such as home and car au­dio sys­tems, cam­era and PlayS­ta­tion also con­tinue to gain trac­tion. "Our tar­get is over 20 per cent. It should be bet­ter than last year," said Sony In­dia Pvt Ltd Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor Kenichiro Hibi when asked about sales ex­pec­ta­tions for the new fis­cal. Last fis­cal, the com­pany had reg­is­tered around 20 per cent growth in sales de­spite de­mon­eti­sa­tion putting up a chal­lenge. The com­pany does not make pub­lic its fi­nan­cial per­for­mance in In­dia. This year, he said: "the sen­ti­ment is quite pos­i­tive. One month has just passed and I have vis­ited many places and found that con­sumers' feel­ing was quite pos­i­tive." Hibi said the early on­set of sum­mer has had an in­di­rect pos­i­tive im­pact as good sales of air con­di­tion­ers as it has put money in the hands of the com­pany's chan­nel part­ners. More­over, he said, the fore­cast of a good mon­soon au­gured well for the con­sumer durables in­dus­try as it would drive ru­ral sales. "It is very good and im­pacts us pos­i­tively as the up­coun­try busi­ness is de­pen­dent on agri­cul­ture. Good har­vest means that they are com­ing to buy TV. The sen­ti­ments are good," Hibi said. At present, 40 per cent of Sony's sales in In­dia come from up­coun­try ar­eas and is grow­ing fast, he said while adding that the ma­jor­ity of sales con­tinue to be driven by metro mar­kets. "This is be­cause our prod­uct port­fo­lio is more pre­mium. Up­coun­try sales is also in­creas­ing be­cause the econ­omy is grow­ing and peo­ple are buy­ing mid seg­ment prod­ucts. How­ever, they are pur­chas­ing more in mid to high end," Hibi said. Elab­o­rat­ing on how pur­chas­ing pat­tern has changed in non-metro mar­kets, he said that till about two to three years, in the TV pan­els, 24-inch screen size was the most sought af­ter but now it is the 32-inch. "Even last year, we saw a good por­tion com­ing from 40 inch, which is mid to high end. They (up­coun­try) are go­ing for big­ger pan­els, which is good for us," Hibi said. On the over­all prod­ucts seg­ment, he said TV panel is the big­gest cat­e­gory but oth­ers such as au­dio, which has mul­ti­ple cat­e­gories like home theatre, speaker sys­tems, head­phone and blue­tooth speak­ers for mo­bile phones are be­com­ing very pop­u­lar among young­sters. In the panel seg­ment, Sony is ex­per­i­ment­ing with Bol­ly­wood's vi­brant colours and dy­namic mu­sic to woo its cus­tomers and strengthen its dom­i­nance in pre­mium TV panel seg­ment in In­dia by sell­ing more prod­ucts tai­lored for the mar­ket. Hav­ing tasted suc­cess, the com­pany is now even look­ing to come up with high-end ul­tra high def­i­ni­tion (4K) tech­nol­ogy at af­ford­able price range even as it steps up its con­sumer re­search here. With In­ter­net-en­abled TV be­com­ing pop­u­lar, the com­pany will also launch a new range, which will have YouTube but­ton on re­mote con­trol, later this year. "In­dia is a quite unique and big mar­ket for us, so we have made lot of re­search and de­vel­op­ment to make best prod­uct for In­dia," said Hibi. Even in cam­eras, Hibi said de­mand for point-and-shoot cam­eras have come back grad­u­ally af­ter drop­ping for a few years due to the ad­vent of smart­phones. "Cus­tomers now un­der­stand that mo­bile phones have lim­i­ta­tions in shoot­ing," he said adding "even the pro­fes­sional seg­ment is grow­ing." Sony In­dia is also wit­ness­ing an in­crease in de­mand for car au­dio sys­tems with the car in­dus­try grow­ing al­most 10 per cent last year. "More cars they would have, we would have more car au­dios," Hibi quipped.

Kenichiro Hibi, Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor of Sony In­dia

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