Manish Sharma , Director – Marketing, Panasonic India
Off late, Panasonic has been consolidating and aggressively building up its brand equity? What’s the current status?
Our intention was to improve the top of mind awareness and also connect to the youth. Our use of brand ambassadors and association with major sports like cricket and football have made this successful.

Recently, the company made an announcement that it will tap the lower segment through the Sanyo brand. What’s your strategy for the same?
We are in process of introducing products for mass segment, which has a huge potential in India. Our recent introduction of 32 LCD model backed by “Sound for India” offer is a step in this direction. The model is designed for Indian market and comes with a powerful sound and low power consumption. It is positioned to enhance affordability of consumer for a 32 LCD TV.

Panasonic still has a negligible presence when it comes to rural India. So how do you plan to enter the rural market?
We have aggressive plans to expand our retail presence to Tier 2 and Tier 3 markets. As a first step, we have expanded our service infrastructure in these markets. Then, we are expanding our product line up in smaller screen LCDs, direct cool refrigerators and affordable home theater models. To back all this, we have campaigns to create awareness and bring the product closer to the consumer. Our recent launch of “Sound for India” campaign is a part of that endavour, which will be a series of road shows and exhibitions across 70 cities.

Does Panasonic perform a test run of its proposed campaigns before breaking it to consumers. What insights went into the existing campaign?
We perform a brief or extensive research periodically to evaluate our campaigns. Before designing “Sound for India”, we understood the necessity of penetrating Tier 2 and 3 towns and provide a touch and feel experience to our customers. The current campaign compliments the design and launch of our new LCD model.

Consumer Audio Visual (CAV) is a segment you are currently focussing on. What are the other verticals where you are betting big?
We have equal focus to establish the home appliances category in India. Signing Katrina Kaif as brand ambassador for home appliances is part of that. Air conditioners are leading the way now. We have launched a series of AC models this year and a manufacturing facility is also coming for the same.

With consumer durables giants spending huge bucks on celebrities, there’s a lot of clutter in the market. How do you stand out then?
We have a unique mix of “Bollywood” and “Sports” marketing. More over the campaigns are designed to stand apart. We put a lot of focus on educating the consumer about the strengths of our products, which involves lot of activities on both ground and shop level.

A key element of Panasonic’s marketing is sports sponsorship (e.g. FIFA Association). Are there similar plans for Commonwealth Games?
Sports marketing is an integral part of our marketing strategy. Currently, we are focussing on cricket, soccer and golf. Our association with Delhi Daredevils and AIFF is being continued for the year and we have been leveraging on these associations through TV and print campaigns.

What are your future marketing plans and what will be your budget for the same?
We will continue our aggression for marketing our products and enhancing the brand image in Indian market. We will invest a value equivalent to 20% of our revenue during FY2011 for advertising and promotions.

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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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