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It's a difficult year but we anticipate positive consumer sentiment this festive season: Satish Padmanabhan of Sony India

It's a difficult year but we anticipate positive consumer sentiment this festive season: Satish Padmanabhan of Sony India

Padmanabhan says it is the organic demand that is driving the market and that he sees no reason why this festival should not perform well.

Satish Padmanabhan, Sales Head at Sony India Satish Padmanabhan, Sales Head at Sony India

As India enter into the festive mode, the e-commerce majors are witnessing a tremendous response. Witnessing a positive shift in consumer demand across categories including TV & audio, headphones, TWS, and cameras due to the pandemic, Satish Padmanabhan, Sales Head at Sony India, in an exclusive interaction with Business Today, talks about the business value growth the company is expecting during this festive season.
Here are the edited excerpts:

Business Today: What have been the major trends you witnessed in these years, and which amongst them do you foresee will follow for the next two to three years?

Satish Padmanabhan: In the past two years, we have witnessed a positive shift in consumer demand, which can be attributed to the change in trends, and people's need to upgrade their home entertainment. People were stuck at home with limited exposure to multiplex and theatres, and a massive upswing in OTT content, which resulted in demand for high-end entertainment devices like large screen televisions and matching soundbars. As families started to spend more time at home together, PlayStation also became the centre of their entertainment piece.

In addition, the personal audio segment, work from home (WFH) and learn from home (LFH), has also provided extra stimulus to the already robust demand for headphones and 'Truly Wireless' earbuds, especially noise cancellation models.

Trends like professional vlogging and live streaming have seen an upward swing during the pandemic, which translated into a growing demand from content creators and vloggers for compact and lightweight cameras that come in handy.

To sum it up, we are seeing good growth and inclination towards premium models. Customers are preferring experience enriching products, thereby resulting in a good value business for organisations and partners.

BT: Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and the second wave earlier this year, what is the market sentiment for the upcoming festive season?

SP: The pandemic has induced the stay at home and work/learn from home phenomena, which has eventually given impetus to every aspect of business that we deal in. While we have crossed the pent-up demand stage, what we are witnessing right now is the real organic sales in the market. It is the organic demand that is driving the market and I see no reason why this festival should not perform well. India is a highly sentiment driven country and when it comes to festival, we can expect a big boom to knock in the consumer goods sector. We are expecting positive growth across all product categories for Sony India.

BT: What kind of sales are you expecting for your consumer categories this festive season? Are you hopeful of recouping/or have already recouped the lost sales?

SP: We are happy to see our business in the growth trajectory. With the increase in sales of premium products, we are on the path of registering good business value growth this festive season across all categories.

BT: Where do you expect most of your sales to come from -- offline or online -- this festive season?

SP: In a price-driven economy, it is important to have a presence across various touchpoints to reach customers. We have a good mix of both offline and online channels and we are in a position to offer our best products to consumers regardless of the platform.

BT: As salary cuts and job losses have impacted the consumer segment big time, do you plan to introduce some special offers to facilitate purchases?

SP: To bring people closer and help them celebrate the festive season with full fervour and enthusiasm, we have introduced exciting offers and discounts across all categories of products. With best-in-class innovative products, coupled with exciting finance schemes, easy EMIs with zero down payment and irresistible discounts on Sony BRAVIA, cameras, and premium home audio products, we hope customers will celebrate the festival's spirit and find happiness amidst these tough times.

BT: Which could be your most popular SKUs this year, and are you planning to introduce some new models in the market?

SP: We at Sony are driven with the passion to empower our consumers with innovative and technologically superior products with advanced features. We bring the best of technology for TVs such as XR chip, Google TV, Dolby Vision/Atmos playback compatibility, industry-leading mirrorless cameras and lenses in the digital imaging category. Also, we bring unmatched audio quality and features like noise cancellation in the audio category.

BT: How has your brand performance been in the last few years? What are your sales prediction for the coming three or four years?

SP: We are happy with the top-of-mind consumer recall for our brand. We take pride in the kind of experience we have been able to deliver to our customers.

BT: With people moving back to their old routine, how do you think it is likely to impact the sales?

SP: We are anticipating a positive consumer sentiment this festive season. The year has been difficult, but India is gearing up to celebrate the festivities and we are optimistic that there will be a further surge in demand across categories and we are ready to cater to our customers' needs and be a part of the celebrations.

BT: Has the global semiconductor shortage impacted your production and will dampen the festive projections?

SP: Semi-conductor shortage is a global phenomenon that has impacted various businesses and industries for the foreseeable future, and India is no exception. However, we have sufficient inventories for the home entertainment segment, such as soundbars and party speakers, to maintain the supply chain without any disruption soon. At the same time, no shortage is expected in the personal audio category, such as headphones, earphones and Bluetooth speakers. We expect a positive response from the consumers on this front, and it will not impact our festive sales in the near future.

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