Specialising in connectivity devices such as routers, mobile computing accessories, surge protectors and iPhone accessories, Belkin has been selling its accessories in India for close to a decade now. With other international and local brands expanding their base, Kartik Bakshi, Country Manager, Belkin - India in conversation with Business Today talks about Belkin's expansion plan in India.
Q: When did Belkin enter the Indian market and how has been the growth so far?
A: Belkin has been around in India since 2009. We work closely with our distributor and with their efficient network; we successfully penetrated in more than 160 cities. Some key retail outlets are Reliance Digital, Croma, Amazon, Flipkart, etc. We are constantly expanding into eCommerce, large format Retail, Apple premium Resellers & General Trade. Currently, we are experiencing robust growth in key categories such as Mobile Power, Cables & Screen protection.
We believe in enabling individual to enjoy an on-the-go lifestyle. Recently, we witnessed huge growth in mobile accessories that compliment the launch of the new iPhones. The Boost Up wireless charging pads and True Clear Pro Advanced Screen Care are topping the chart. However, Surge Protectors and HDMIs are our all-time favourites.
Q. Of the overall Belkin sales, how much does India business contribute?
A-We are not as big as the Americas or Europe. However, as the Indian consumers get more sophisticated, we foresee a bigger chunk of the pie in the coming years.
Q How was the year 2017 in terms of operations and revenue?
A: We achieved year on year double digit growth despite all the fiscal changes in India, which had been a very challenging time for all retail.
Q. What are your expansion plans for the Indian market?
A: Belkin believes in technology making one's life easier. We invest a lot of resources into R&D to bring quality and safe innovations to provide complete solutions to smart devices. Hence, product innovation is the key strategy to expand into the Indian market. We will be focusing on expanding our Boost Up wireless charging pads as well as our sophisticated screen protection system - True Clear Pro Advanced Screen Care - where overlay is being applied by a device to ensure precise application.
We are also bringing in "Pocket Power" power banks to enable any busy individual to truly enjoy an on-the-go lifestyle.
We will continue to invest in marketing to increase our brand awareness.
Q: What is your service network in India?
A: People can reach us anytime on our 24/7 Toll Free support number or via email. In addition, we have service centres in 60 locations across India.
Q. Who is Belkin's target audience in India?
A: Our Target audience is anyone who owns a smart device such as mobile, laptops and tablets. They are the savvy consumers who are willing to spend good money on quality and safe accessories to protect, connect and power their devices.
Q: Belkin products have been available in India for long but why not everything launched abroad comes to India?
A: There are certain government and regulation challenges that limits the launches of some of our overseas products. These compliances and certification costs have an impact on pricing which makes it a lot more expensive for the Indian customer. However, we see these challenges fading away. Hopefully in the future, we should have most of our products available in India.
Q: Are you planning to get IOT switches and other products to India?
A: Our sister brand "Wemo" focuses on IOT solutions and as of now we do not have any aggressive plans for India.
Q: How matured is the Indian audience when it comes to buying original accessories?
A: The Indian audience has come a long way. Previously, I felt their buying decisions were based solely on low prices. In the recent years, I see a lot more consumers, especially in Tier 1 cities, being more conscious on quality and safety aspect when it comes to tech accessories. As smart devices get more expensive, the consumers are becoming more discerning to choose quality accessories to protect their expensive devices.
Q: How are you reaching out to your target audience, marketing campaign, online campaigns, etc?
A: We are constantly trying to understand more of our Indian consumers. Only then, we are able to reach out to them and speak their language. The Indian consumers are becoming very sophisticated and eCommerce savvy. As such, they are making online purchases on a day-to-day basis. Hence, we have been investing into online platforms to reach out to them.
Offline, the retail is highly fragmented, with most customer spend going to very small, independent shops. The vast physical infrastructure of mass retail has yet to be developed. We are collaborating with our partners to ensure more brand exposure and product experience.
The introduction of True Clear Pro Advanced Screen Care allows us to involve our consumers on a different level. The journey to apply overlay is now fun and engaging, depends how much involvement the consumers want to. With more involvement, that translate into deeper knowledge about our product and brand . This builds more loyalty to our brand.