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Voltas factory
Business

Million And Counting

How Voltas shrugged off its traditional image and gained India’s trust

June 2018     |     653 words     |     2-minute read

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April and May 2018 was a great summer for brand Voltas. A study conducted by Brand Trust Report, revealed Voltas to be ‘India’s Most Trusted Air Conditioner Brand,’ and the company reaped the benefit of that trust with increased sales.

Pradeep Bakshi, CEO and MD, Voltas, sees the ranking as a vindication of the hard work put in over the last decade or so. “We embarked on our turnaround story in 2006, with new initiatives and innovations,” he says.

Keen on becoming more vibrant and relevant, the over 60-year-old brand sought to influence all four Ps of the marketing mix: Place, Product, Promotion and Price. “Today,” Bakshi adds, “We have a market share of 22 percent month-on-month, year-on-year, and are the undisputed market leaders in our space.”

This is how they did it...

Increased footprint

The company augmented the size and strength of its channel partners. From working with only about 1,000 dealers in 2006 Voltas has now expanded to more than 15,000 channel partners. This has helped the brand as customers are given the chance to touch, feel and experience its products.

Innovation

Voltas introduced energy efficient ACs in 2007, three years before the government made it mandatory. Another factor that worked in its favour was its recognition of the aspirations of tens of thousands of households that could not enjoy an AC because of load shedding and voltage fluctuations. Its ACs with inverter technology took the market by storm, and Mr Bakshi adds, “The use of this AC will reduce the cost of ownership by 60 percent, because of the reduced power consumption.”

The makeover

The company shook off its traditionalist image, launching a series of advertising campaigns to highlight the brand as innovative and progressive. “The conventional image was a result of our legacy. Older people were able to relate to our brand, but to younger people, the value we offered was not so clear,” Mr Bakshi says.

Beginning with the India ka dil, India ka AC campaign in 2006, Voltas’ ads have always sought to highlight that its products are a smart buy.

Value for money

Market research revealed that the cost of running an AC was a customer’s biggest concern. This led Voltas to introduce an energy efficient product and launch a campaign to educate customers about why a Voltas purchase made sound sense.

Mr Bakshi explains, “We explained the cost of ownership to people. We helped them understand that an energy-efficient Voltas product would pay for itself over a few years, and prove more cost-efficient than another product that is cheaper at the outset but would bring them exorbitant electricity bills.”

This awareness, he notes, also helped counter the popular belief that imported products provided greater value.

Looking ahead

Mr Bakshi and his team are keen to keep the momentum going in the air conditioning industry, which has seen a compound annual growth rate of less than 10% over the last 5 years.

Voltas has set its sights on achieving the number 2 position in the air cooler category, in the short term, and becoming the top brand in five years. “The air cooler could be a product of choice for those who cannot afford an AC, as also for those who are starting out in life. It has the potential to be a midsegment between a fan and an AC,” says Mr Bakshi.

Voltas has also entered into a joint venture with a Turkish company, Arçelik, to strengthen its technological capability. The 50:50 equity JV has had an initial capital infusion of USD100. The company hopes to gain at least a 10 percent market share through the joint manufacture and sale of refrigerators, washing machines, dishwashers, microwaves and ovens in India. The products, co-branded as Voltas-Beko, will be launched later this year.

A market crowded with multinational brands from around the world leaves no room for complacency, and Voltas is determined to do all it can to stay ahead.

—Cynthia Rodrigues


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