New Delhi: Akai, a consumer electronics maker that is now based in Singapore, is attempting a comeback into the Indian market as a maker of premium products, discarding its earlier strategy of selling low-priced products.
Akai introduced its range of colour televisions in India in 1995 at Rs9,999, significantly cheaper than the prices of rival brands available at that time and captured a large share of the market. However, its popularity quickly fizzled out because of ill-conceived strategies and an onslaught by South Korean brands such as LG and Samsung.
This time, “we have taken a conscious decision not to play the price warrior card. In the TV space, we’ll be just below the top three brands, and above the others,” said Anurag Sharma, director, Hometech Digital Pvt. Ltd, a part of New Delhi-based Paras Group that has a 10-year licence starting July 2016 to sell Akai products in India.
Paras Group already sells products of electronics brands including Sony, LG Electronics, Nikon, Tata Sky, Motorola and Gionee.
Hometech has done a soft launch of the brand in October, introducing LED TVs and washing machines. It plans to introduce air conditioners, home theatres, air purifiers and refrigerators over the next few months.
“Products will be priced about 20% below top brands like Sony, Samsung and LG, and 10-15% above the likes of Panasonic, Videocon, Micromax and Intex,” said Sharma.
“We are banking on the brand recall and will build the business on distribution, retail across top 10 cities initially with focus on tier II and tier III cities, and after sales service support exclusively built for Akai.The company will have about 200 distributors and Akai will be present across 3,000 outlets. To push products, the company will have about 1,000 people stationed at different retail stores,” he added.
Hometech will spend about Rs150 crore in brand building, marketing and distribution over next 15 months for Akai.
The Akai brand was earlier launched in India by Baron International, owned by the Mulchandanis, and captured close to 20% share in the TV market. It managed to maintain that share till 1997-98. But after Videocon took the brand licence for Akai in India in 1999, its grip on the market started to loosen. Its market share dropped to 2% when Akai snapped ties with Videocon in September 2009.
In its third attempt to establish its presence in India, Akai teamed up with Global Brands Enterprise Solutions Pvt. Ltd in January 2010 for India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal. Besides TV and home theatres, the company also tried to sell mobile handsets but that wasn’t successful after Akai’s local partner landed in a financial crisis.