FACE2FACE WITH SHAHZAD AHMED, CEO, MIDDLE EAST, AFRICA & INDIA, SIEMENS GIGASET

Gigaset, one of the world’s biggest manufacturers of cordless phones under the brand name Siemens Gigaset, recently entered the Indian market. Here, Shahzad Ahmed, CEO, Middle East, India and Africa opens up on the Indian market and his company’s strategy
 
What prompted Gigaset to enter India?
We appreciate India’s buying power and are here to serve the market. With an average annual GDP growth rate of over 7% for the past two decades, Indian economy is among the fastest growing in the world. The penetration of cordless in Indian households is less than 15%. Hence there is enough opportunity for all cordless manufacturers in India. The communications market is estimated to grow at an average 2.6% annually from Rs.21,100 crores in 2008 to Rs.24,000 crores in 2013.

Evidently, the company’s global strategy was the reason Gigaset saw an impressive growth in Europe and Middle East. Any special strategy for India?
Gigaset Communications is the clear market leader in Europe for DECT phones. In Germany, you find Gigaset phones in about every second household. In Europe, we have a market share of 33%. It’s important for us to strengthen our presence in other fast growing markets [like India]. We are setting trends and develop products to fit different customers’ needs. For example, we were the first to have an integrated answering machine to be operated from handset without any base keys in 2.4 Ghz range in the Indian market. Furthermore, Gigaset was the first manufacturer launching a colour display within a cordless phone.

Yes, the designs are stylish with great functionality, equipped with cutting edge technology. But do you think this can influence Indian consumers?
We launched six models in the Indian market in the very first phase. We are now producing tailor-made products for India that meet customers’ needs. It’s our objective to produce all products for the customer’s comfort, so that everyone can enjoy cordless telephony that is safe, reliable, flexible. I am glad to announce to the Indian media that we are launching five new models in this cordless category within this quarter.

What according to you will be the challenges that you are likely to face in the Indian market?
First of all, due to size of the country, the logistics supply chain is the one which we and our distributor partners have to manage efficiently. Secondly, we need to ensure that Quality products such as Siemens Gigaset are backed by service centers which provide satisfaction to Indian customers. To sum up, both the logistics and service set up is the one where we are constantly monitoring at head office level and we believe this is the core ingredient for winning the Indian consumer’s mindset.
 
What according to you is the USP of the company?
Gigaset products are developed and manufactured in Germany. In the awarded factory at Bocholt, Germany, the Gigaset telephones are manufactured under the highest quality and environmental standards. Even in India, the models which we launch at first stage are made in Germany. The sole purpose was to allow the Indian consumer to have the experience of using such high quality products made in Germany. Gigaset stands for German engineering and therefore for highest quality and customer orientation. Each and every model has a unique selling point and therefore fits various customers’ needs. We offer telephones as well for dedicated followers of technology as for non-technically oriented customers. There are Gigasets that fit the needs of brand-oriented, value-for-money as well as price-oriented people.

How is competition in this sphere and how do you plan to fare in comparison with your competitors?
As a policy, we do not comment on competition. We believe the competition is beneficial to end user and ultimately the customer gets choice of several brands. We will offer high quality products to Indian customers and give them value for money proposition.

What is your vision for the company in the coming two to five years?
Gigaset should become the number one brand for cordless telephony in India. The Gigaset phones will be available in every major retail outlet. Within five years, we expect to have a pan India presence and sell our products through 3000 retail outlets.

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Source : IIPM Editorial, 2010.

An Initiative of IIPM, Malay Chaudhuri and Arindam chaudhuri (Renowned Management Guru and Economist).

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