Wooing Their Customers Back!

Here's to old wines in new bottles!

By Sonam Gulati

Entrepreneur India

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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Building brands is no easy feat, but what is even tougher is the brand staying with the consumers even if they can't see it around. In an age where consumer electronics is no less than a battlefield, we have a few of the brands either making inroads back into the business or revamping their strategy to counter the newer players at the old game of customer satisfaction.

Indian consumer electronics' brands have the power to kick in strong dose of nostalgiato all 90s kids. Maybe because that is the time when color TV, washing machine, microwave ovens – all became a part of the
lifestyle. Before that era those were luxury, and after that they became a necessity. The brands that were able to establish themselves during that time became iconic. It was the pre-Korean brand era for electronic goods and there were a handful of companies that were catering to the untapped market. Healthy competition resulted in each brand creating a niche and delivering quality. Reclaiming past glory BPL (an acronym for its original name British Physical Laboratories) was one of the largest consumer durable firms all through the 90s. The company produced each part separately and assembled their own products. While some call it a backward model, but it
helped BPL develop a niche customer base, due to attention to detail all the products underwent. "We were trendsetters back in the 90's, selling more than a million television sets annually and kept our customer service as the core of our business," reminisced Ajit Nambia, CMD, BPL. It started with manufacturing panel meters for the defence forces and slowly expanded to include electrocardiographs and patient-monitoring systems. In 1982, with
the Asian Games came the color television and that is when Nambiar decided to enter the consumer electronics market. Soon after, they formed a joint venture with Sanyo to bring latest technology to their televisions. With their attention to detail and problem-solving capabilities, they became a household name in no time. But
just as the rise was unanticipated, the fall was unforeseen. The BPL-Sanyo partnership failed because Sanyo shut down and then just like a pack of dominoes, BPL came tumbling down. One of the most loved brands of the 90s faded into oblivion. Though it kept afloat with its medical equipments business, it was not able to recover from the losses of the consumer electronics business. That was until last year when Flipkart
approached Nambiar for a comeback. "An India Today report suggested that we were still one of the most loved
brands in the country. Besides this, more than 18 million Indians are currently experiencing our products," Nambiar said. These facts were enough to convince BPL for a return and they are back with an exclusive partnership with ecommerce giant Flipkart. According to him, this partnership will work in their favour.
Taking baby steps to come back into the market, Nambiar is positive about the online-only approach. "It is important to offer the right buying experience at the right cost. Being true to our customers is what has propelled us this far. This is our second innings and we will continue to do what is in the best interest of our customers," Nambiar added for good measure.

Broadening horizons

Videocon also enjoyed a similar brand loyalty. Who can forget the uber catchy jingle, "Ye dhoti, saaf karti, kapde bhi sukhati.. bas ek hi pal mein, aap ho gaye taiyaar, Videocon Washing Machine". This was a time
when brands made an effort to carve an everlasting niche for themselves. While Videocon's story is not as dramatic as BPL's it is nevertheless one of the brands which was no less popular in the market. However, it lost its prominence after the Korean brands came to the fore in early 2000s. But Videocon has stood the test of time by adapting to it. Newer product segments, latest features and innovations have helped it keep its name in the market. "We are bringing in innovations to our products to meet the ever evolving needs of our consumers, who are on a lookout for newer technologies. In a bid to withstand competition and stay relevant in the market,

Videocon has acquired proficiency and is now a technology forerunner rather than a follower," said Anirudh Dhoot, Director, Videocon. Dhoot adds that Videocon's forte lies in being relevant to all kinds of buyers, since they target all price points with their products. With a number of acquisitions under its belt including Electrolux Kelvinator and introduction of its own D2H and line of mobile phones in 2009, Videocon has stayed relevant by broadening its horizons and exploring new markets. "With growing awareness and increasing purchasing power, it
is imperative for brands to adopt strategies in order to match consumers' demand. After all consumer is the king," added Dhoot. There are many other examples that one can site in this particular segment. Take Onida for instance –another homegrown brand that suffered Korean blows. Who can forget its mascot, two-horned devil, propagating their products as sinfully good. Onida suffered not only externally from competition, but also a
lot of internal turmoil. They ended up focusing too much on the marketing strategy and lost the plot somewhere. It is reported that the homegrown brand is now looking at a gradual comeback and acquiring its market back. It is focusing on three categories – flat panel TVs, washing machines and air conditioner with
innovative features in each category. It is all about rebuilding the brand without foregoing the legacy that they carry with them. Here's to old wines in new bottles!

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