From televisions to washing machines and air conditioners, AKAI has built a strong portfolio in the northern part of India, and it has a fool-proof plan to expand its reach nationally.
Some of us might remember AKAI from the days of AKAI Bush, the premium music system which symbolised a luxurious lifestyle, but the brand name is soon to be associated with so much more in India. By 2020, the company is aiming to be one of the most-talked-about electronics brands in the country.
International Business Times, India, sat down with the director of AKAI India – Anurag Sharma – to discuss the future of the company in the highly-competitive market. The future plans laid out by Sharma really shows AKAI's strong commitment to grow in the country relentlessly.
We, of course, dug into the details of AKAI Bush on popular demand, and the company is certainly open to bringing the premium audio systems in the market with the touch of 21st century. Hold on to that excitement as we might soon be treated with some new range of music systems.
But that's not all we discussed with Sharma during our interview. Here are the edited excerpts from IBTimes, India's interview with Sharma:
IBTimes, India: AKAI was once a prominent brand name in the audio business in India, but it lost ground to rivals. How does AKAI plan to do things differently this time around so it can sustain in the market in the long run?
Anurag Sharma: AKAI has been in the Indian market for two decades and has built immense consumer trust with high-quality products. With the Japanese technology, user feedback on product quality has been positive since the early days of the brand in the domestic market. Our focus now is to build on the trust with good quality products and effective after sales service. Thus, our objective is to set up a robust infrastructure which would support transparent communication.
Hometech Digital Pvt. LTD, aims to develop AKAI products with cutting-edge technology for the Indian market at affordable rates. The plan is to introduce a product line-up consisting of consumer electronics and appliances which is first for the Indian market for AKAI. We have already introduced our LED TVs, washing machines and air conditioners in the northern belt of the country.
We are focussing on two laterals primarily - a) product quality and innovation and b) after sales service. In addition to this we have put a toll - free number for complaints and grievances and will be soon launching an app as well. The aim is to ensure complaint resolution within 24 hours of lodging it.
Indian consumer market holds great growth prospects, which has brought several new entrants. Our focus lies on keeping our promises. We are working relentlessly towards meeting the promises we made and living up to our customer's expectations.
IBT: From TVs to small home appliances, which product is going to be the prime focus for AKAI India?
Sharma: While our focus will remain on the entire range, we are launching the products keeping in consideration the consumer demand and retailers' sentiments. Our portfolio is a comprehensive range of products like air purifier etc., which are new from the stable of AKAI and are important today, given India ranks high on the list of polluted countries.
The market has grown in good lengths for every product and remarkable technological advancement has been witnessed with respect to products. Indian society is going through a lifestyle change fuelled by infrastructural developments. The focus is to pace up with the change and develop products with cutting- edge technology at affordable rates across the country.
IBT: Will Hometech Digital take advantage of AKAI's legacy in the music systems to bring back some products like Bush Akai music system with some advanced tech of course?
Sharma: Yes, we will be taking the AKAI legacy in music systems ahead and the plan is to introduce the range as per the current industry trends. The upcoming models will be equipped with cutting edge technology and be introduced with sound bars 2.1, 4.1 and 5.1 music systems in addition to other key features like Bluetooth, FM, USB, etc. in all the models.
IBT: Is AKAI focusing on the budget segment or the luxury premium category for its comprehensive range of products in India?
Sharma: AKAI product line-up is extensive from budget segment to high end products. In LEDs, we have a range comprising of smart TVs, slim TVs the regular ones to the 50-inch 4K UHD TVs. For every product, we have an extensive range to cater to the needs of every section of the society.
In washing machines, currently there are five models ranging from 6.5kg to 8.5kg. The semi-automatic line-up has already hit the market and the fully automatic range (7.5kg and 8.5kg) will be launched soon.
In air-conditioners, the range is extensive with window ACs and split ACs. Window ACs starting from 0.75 ton to 1.5 ton 2 star, 3 star and 5 star. In split ACs the range starts from 1 ton to 2 ton 3 star, 5 star and inverter ACs.
IBT: How strong is Akai's offline and online presence in the Indian market currently?
Sharma: We started with the offline path. We have established 1,200 retailers and 96 dealers across the northern belt of the country. In this industry, 90 percent market still operates offline and thus we first focussed on strengthening our offline presence across the country. We are going zone wise, the next in line will be South, followed by East and West.
We will soon be coming online as well, tentatively by the end of March.
IBT: What are your targets regarding sales, revenue for 2017?
Sharma: The LEDs, Washing Machines and Air conditioners have already hit the markets in the northern belt of the country. The response has been positive until now and we aim to capture 15-20 percent market share by 2020.