After a decade of not-so-prominent existence, Akai is now attempting to revive itself. Any particular reason for the same?
Well, actually when Akai entered India, it re-wrote the dynamics of the Indian consumer electronics industry, specially the television segment. The product offerings of the company was fantastic with affordable price tags. But then, it entered into the licensing agreement with Videocon. Even at that time it was doing a business of `250-300 crore per year. So, the brand continued in the country as these numbers were not small by any parameters. But it prominently remained only in Tier II and Tier III cities. However, as this licensing agreement with Videocon is over now, we are trying to revive the brand with a new identity and make it big in the Indian market.
What are the major changes that you have tried to infuse into the company since you took over the responsibility of the company’s operations in India?
Changing the logo of the brand was my first initiative after I took over. I made sure that we write ‘Tokyo Japan’ in the logo. For long we had been feeling that somehow the brand was losing its rich Japanese heritage and we wanted to bring it back. Now I am very clear that this message is not only communicated to the consumers through our media communications, but it is also communicated in terms the company’s actions. As a first step, we have started this with our products. Now our products are imported. Though we modify them to match Indian requirements, we make sure that the quality and the looks remain international.
What has been the reaction of the consumers as well as dealers to these changes?
It’s really interesting. When we approached the stores, they themselves noticed the changes in Akai. We never felt the need to communicate them that the brand has changed. They noticed it in our business conduct only. As a result, today, some large stores have also started business with us.
Were there any initial hiccups?
One of the challenges that we faced was that when we approached some of the old distributors and dealers of Akai, they got the feeling that they could bargain huge margins from us as we were desperate. But, we showed patience and ensured that we would do business only when there is a win-win situation for both the parties. Another challenge for us was to re-establish the entire sales network. Now a lot of our channel partners are new as it’s a change of company and change of policies too.
A part from revival of Akai as a brand, what are your other targets?
Currently, we are generate a revenue of around `250 to 300 crore from Tier I cities, which is nearly 15% of our total business. But in the next 12 months we aim to increase this 15% to 25%, which will then translate to a turnover of `450 crore.
What’s your long-term vision for the brand?
I definitely look at Akai as a prominent player in the country over the next few years. Also, I will like the company to take up many more actions like what it did in late 90s which changed the dynamics of the industry. I believe that every brand has its own space in the market, otherwise so many brands would not have existed. So, we are not looking at a leadership position in the immediate future, but we believe that we would be able to create a space for us in the market. Moreover, with our plans to enter into new verticals like telecom, home inverters and IT products, we are bound to grow.
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Source : IIPM Editorial, 2011.
An Initiative of IIPM, Malay Chaudhuri and Arindam chaudhuri (Renowned Management Guru and Economist).
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