A decade back, air-conditioners (ACs) were treated as a luxury product. The market for ACs was also very small, almost one-fifth of what it is today. Bulky ACs accounted for 80% of sales. Today, much as changed as the AC is no longer considered to be a luxury item but an essential. India's homegrown AC brand Voltas, from the Tata Group, has been witness to the wave of changes that ACs as a category have gone through. Today, 70% of its revenues come from the sale of split ACs. In a conversation with FE's Anushree Bhattacharyya, Pradeep Bakshi, chief operating officer - UPBG (Unitary Products Business Group), Voltas Ltd, talks about how this Tata brand rewrote the rules of the game. Edited excerpts.
For a company which only sells ACs, how does Voltas handle competition, especially from foreign brands who have a range of consumer durables?
Foreign brands have better technology and deeper pockets. Along with that, they also have the advantage that Indians perceive foreign brands as being better, especially in terms of technology. Given the market scenario,Voltas has done well and we are the market leader with a volume market share till date of 18.5% in overall AC, 35.3% in window AC and 14.8% in split AC.
This has been possible mainly because we have kept ourselves abreast of the latest technology and have worked towards creating a solid network for after sales services. Consumers mostly complain that once a company sells the product, it happily forgets to provide services, while Voltas has ensured that its customer gets the best service at a reasonable price. This is how we have been able to capture the Indian market.
With so many AC brands in the market, how does Voltas ensure that its advertising and marketing campaigns are able to stand out?
Our research suggested that the India consumer wanted an efficient product. Also, the Indian consumer felt immense pride in using a product which was manufactured by a trusted Indian company. We thus launched the campaign, 'India ka dil, India ka AC'. Next, we spoke about efficiency as we talked about how Voltas ACs help in conserving electricity. We launched a campaign where we showed a ‘savings calculator'. This campaign played a big role as it allow the consumer to buy an AC based on the 1-5 star rating. This worked well for us even when the industry was witnessing a