The Rs 76,400 crore Indian appliance and consumer electronics market grew after almost two flat years in 2019 on rising disposable income and easy credit access. However, the COVID-19 has dampened growth projections. With the outbreak of coronavirus, initially, only supplies were impacted. However, the current nationwide lockdown has dampened the peak summer sale. The lockdown across March-April has significantly impacted sales, and with a very grim picture of the future, consumer durables manufacturers are exploring ways to reach out to their loyal customers. Manish Sharma, Executive Officer, Panasonic, President and CEO, Panasonic India and SA, expressed his thoughts on the matter via a LinkedIn post.
"The onset of summers in India earmarks a crucial period for the ACE (Appliance and Consumer Electronics) industry. In fact, March and April contribute nearly 16 per cent of the sales turnover, giving a jumpstart to the industry. With such a heavy blow due to COVID-19 in March 2020 and now prolonging to April, the industry has already taken a huge setback. Consumer demands have been severely disrupted (more than 50 per cent fall over Q1 projections), employee morale at an all-time low, product/service supplies have been affected and, analysts estimate that the worse is yet to come," writes Sharma.
Making the best out of the current situation, Sharma says he is back on his drawing board, planning for the long-term strategy, recalibrating processes to ensure operational excellence in terms of better efficiencies and productivity, ensuring safety and well-being of employees and factories, analysing how to make the most of digitisation for both internal and external stakeholders.
B2C businesses comprising of large appliances such as air conditioners and refrigerators have already taken an initial hit. Henceforth, it is time to rethink how best to rebound to come out of the situation. "With more and more consumers riding the digital wave, we must look at revisiting our strategies and make it more digital-savvy. For instance, DIY videos for basic maintenance of home-appliances, leveraging modern technologies such as AI/VR for solutions, a robust omni-channel plan, to name a few," adds Sharma.
For B2B businesses, he believes that once the lockdown lifts, digitised solutions such as automation, robotics, supply-chain agility, etc will be in rampant demand - a potential opportunity for B2B businesses. "As I ponder upon these nuances of business, I find myself graduating towards the new normal, i.e., the digital world sifting through my virtual meetings and connecting with my Panasonic family through our online networking platform. It is strange, how adversities germinate newer necessities," he adds.
Meanwhile, on the economic front, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has slashed India's GDP growth projection to 1.9 per cent in 2020 from 5.8 per cent estimated in January, as the global economy hits the worst recession since the Great Depression in the 1930s. Sharma believes that the only thing that can reverse the order is how we can sustain our economies, emerge sooner and stronger from the crisis.
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