New Delhi: Europe’s largest maker of consumer electronics, Royal Philips Electronics NV, wants to be seen in India as a lifestyle company with a focus on consumer “health and well-being”. Chief marketing officer (consumer lifestyle) Egbert van Acht speaks to Mint about the company’s strategy in India and says the country remains a key growth market for the Dutch firm. Edited excerpts:
Philips has been trying to reinvent itself in the consumer electronics space for some time now. What has been the progress so far?
We are no longer a (purely) electronics company; we operate in the health and well-being space. Simplicity is our brand positioning. We are transforming the mindset of the people through our products, communications and campaigns. Given the trends we see in India, there is huge potential for Philips in this country, especially the new Philips that is focusing on health and well-being. We want to bring innovations which can improve the lives of people. We want to bring products such as water purifiers and oral healthcare products. We are investing more and more in the categories and products that are relevant to India.
Betting big: Egbert van Acht, chief marketing officer, Philips
Do you have plans to start your own manufacturing here?
There are plans. Manufacturing is one of the issues that we are currently talking about among ourselves. We have already started manufacturing kitchen appliances and now, we are also identifying other product categories. But the core model is still continuing co-manufacturing. The first goal is to be successful in India in terms of brand recall. People should say that they really love the products and the brand. Rest will follow. In line with the plan, we are investing in enhancing the brand presence in stores. We are setting up...in shops and display centres in multi-brand stores to make people experience the brand.
Where does India stand globally for Philips?
Across the world, China and India are the two countries that have a special status for Philips. We are interested in innovation here. Traditionally, the business units would sit in our headquarters in Amsterdam and plan for India, but now we have sent a part of the business unit here. We have also built an innovation centre here. We are focusing on consumer insights for innovation. The company is also stepping up investment in people and consumer care. We are translating our global strategy into what is relevant for India.
In India, which are the categories you are strong in?
We are operating in 130 countries and India is one of the top 16 markets. It is one of the key markets. I think we have a good business here but the potential is much bigger. We have a very strong position in domestic appliances such as DVD players, audio-video products and shaving and beauty care products. But there are other categories that we can strengthen our presence in such as products for mother and childcare. We need to and are investing more and more money in building the brand Philips here.