Indian consumers still warming up to home entertainment devices?

Western Digital

Sushil Bandi, Country Manager, India, Western Digital (WD)talks to Channeltimes about the company’s plans for increasing its market share in the hard drive market and its new focus on home entertainment devices.

How do you see the high definition digital entertainment devices market growing in India and where does WD stand in this?
Several manufacturers have come out with high definition offerings in the Indian market, especially in the media player and television categories. There is a lack of HD quality content. However, as is the common trend in technology, leading manufacturers like WD have introduced offerings to prepare customers for an upgraded HD ecosystem.

What will be the popular home entertainment devices in the coming months?
Home entertainment devices are a major focus area for WD. We have three immensely successful home entertainment products available in the market, namely WD Elements Play, WD TV Live and the WD TV Live Hub. Here I’d also like to note that Indian consumers are still warming up to home entertainment devices such as HD media players.

The average Indian consumer is trying his hand at utilities like wireless connectivity and remote access. Based on the queries we are receiving on our home entertainment products from customers of Large Format Retailer (LFR), I expect better movement in the metros during the upcoming festive season.

What is your marketing strategy for the future?
For the present quarter, WD has planned and initiated marketing activities in several regions. We have just completed road-shows in the four metros and in Bhopal and Indore. Road-shows in twenty other B, C, and D-Class cities are in the pipeline over the next six months. Road-shows have proved to be very successful for our channel marketing and engagement strategy and we plan to do this more intensively in the coming quarters.

These localized activities help us get in touch with partners and shop owners in smaller cities, inform or train them on our products, and engage them with the WD brand by providing marketing collateral, arranging contests and awarding incentives.

How are you pulling in more resellers to sell WD solutions?
We have already concluded 2 national reseller meets in 2011. The first was organized in Delhi in January, and another was recently concluded in Goa.

The purpose is to keep partners up-to-date on our plans for the Indian market, and solicit feedback that helps us close on our near-term strategy.

The newly initiated ‘WD Wednesday’ campaign has generated much interest and awareness about WD’s products. Every week, we send out an EDM to a mixed audience comprising of distribution partners, enterprise customers and other stakeholders. The idea is to inform them about new products, the utilities they enable, or about our service programs.

Moreover, our reseller schemes are always active so that partners are continuously motivated to perform better. The promotion schemes for both internal and external products are renewed every quarter. ‘Select WD’ for instance, is our most popular program that also awards loyalty points rather than just monetary benefits. Under this program, there needs to be a history of performance for the resellers, based on which they are allotted a Silver, Gold, or Platinum category.

What is your current channel structure? How many distributors do you have currently?
WD’s branded range, or external and home entertainment products, is sold through leading LFR. The major contribution is however through the channel that sells our entire range, including internal and enterprise products.

We have tie-ups with 5 national distributors in India that help us address the demand from metros and smaller cities. Ingram Micro, Global Infonet, Jupiter, and Redington distribute our entire range, while Neoteric only distributes products from the branded range.

How do you expect your recent tie up with Ingram to push your sales up?
Ingram Micro has an expertise in distribution of consumer technology products, and a formidable pan-India presence through a network of over 10,000 channel partners. Their capabilities fit nicely with our objective of expanding our presence in B, C, and D-Class cities. The addition of partners in newer locations will help us reach out to an untapped and extensive customer base.

What percentage of growth do you expect this fiscal?
I expect a 10-15% increase in growth rate over the last fiscal. Also portable storage peripherals are likely to contribute a larger share this time.

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