Founder’s Club

Exclusive Interview With Avneet Singh Marwah – Director & CEO, KODAK

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EXHIBIT: Trace your journey of how you became a brand licensee of Kodak Eastman?

Avneet Singh Marwah: SPPL was established in 1992. We started our journey with the manufacturing of plastic moldings. After managing the manufacturing of moldings for almost every brand of television sets, we started manufacturing televisions themselves. That was when we launched our own brands like Beltek and Crown. Then came the period of transition. Customers began shifting from CRT televisions to LED, which turned out to be a dampener for our business because suddenly television sets from only the four top multinationals were in demand. We realized that the LED era was here to stay given the year-on-year increasing market size. So, with an established infrastructure of 28 offices and 50 company-owned service centers, we decided to associate with a brand of international repute. It was with this strategy in mind that I traveled to Rochester, New York and met some of the senior executives at Kodak. The company had been actively looking for technology and lifestyle product segments where it could possibly lend its brand name to ensure a global consumer footprint. Kodak executives were initially a little apprehensive about associating the brand with televisions, but the size of the Indian market and the company’s willingness for a revival and long-term sustenance of the brand convinced them to sign the deal, trusting SPPL’s experience and capability in the region.

EXHIBIT: How has brand licensing proved to be an effective strategy towards the growth of your business?

 Avneet Singh Marwah:  For the last 25 years SPPL has been making televisions in India. You could say that television is in our DNA. Over these 25 years, we have created infrastructure throughout the country with 28 offices and more than 350 service centers across India. Becoming a brand licensee, especially being affiliated with a brand like Kodak has opened some great avenues for SPPL. Our growth has been on a steady rise, as we have successfully managed to create a good connection between our TV’s and Kodak’s brand legacy in India. People have successfully transitioned from thinking of Kodak as being the icon for photography and have begun associating it with digital motion pictures-or Televisions. The love we have received from consumers across India is a testament to the fact that brand licensing is an effective growth strategy.

EXHIBIT: Why have you chosen Kodak when there are so many brands on the market? What was the key differentiator?

Avneet Singh Marwah: We are a 130-year-old company, and there are very few companies in the world that still going strong, even after 130years and especially in the electronics segment. With this brand our basic strategy was to have entered into a contract with a multinational company under our belt and to promote it in a strategic manner, keeping long-term visibility and sustainability in mind. As for the key differentiator, I’ll give an example; Kodak is one of the few brands across the world where both the upper middle class and the lower middle class have bought its films. We as a collective unit have great nostalgia attached to the brand. The reference to “Kodak Moments” is one of the strongest memories that are connected to the brand and those moments are always referred to as your happy memories. The nostalgia, love, and affection for the brand is really high and continues to grow SPPL was looking for a brand like this one that already has a considerably high recall value attached to it. Therefore this strategy of ours has really worked out well, people have great memories attached to Kodak and it has certainly resulted in a lot of implicit faith in the brand and its Products. 

EXHIBIT: Why have you chosen Kodak when there are so many brands on the market? What was the key differentiator?

Avneet Singh Marwah: We are a 130-year-old company, and there are very few companies in the world that still going strong, even after 130years and especially in the electronics segment. With this brand our basic strategy was to have entered into a contract with a multinational company under our belt and to promote it in a strategic manner, keeping long-term visibility and sustainability in mind. As for the key differentiator, I’ll give an example; Kodak is one of the few brands across the world where both the upper middle class and the lower middle class have bought its films. We as a collective unit have great nostalgia attached to the brand. The reference to “Kodak Moments” is one of the strongest memories that are connected to the brand and those moments are always referred to as your happy memories. The nostalgia, love, and affection for the brand is really high and continues to grow SPPL was looking for a brand like this one that already has a considerably high recall value attached to it. Therefore this strategy of ours has really worked out well, people have great memories attached to Kodak and it has certainly resulted in a lot of implicit faith in the brand and its Products. 

EXHIBIT: What hurdles did you have to overcome on your way to setting up a consumer base for Kodak HD LED TV in India?

Avneet Singh Marwah: For any company to set up in India and then work towards continued success is a big challenge as every state and every region in the country are very different from each other. But we kept our strategy fairly simple and straightforward- – ensure the brand’s popularity online and we did just that. We started with ShopClues and then we moved to Flipkart. Within a span of two years, our televisions are available in fourteen thousand pin codes. This has helped us tap a very wide consumer base all in one go. This strategy has worked out very well for us over the last 2 years and has helped create and foster brand recall.

EXHIBIT: Currently, India is witnessing a great boom with regards to the introduction of new television brands. What are your thoughts on the rise in competition and how does Kodak plan to stand out from the crowd?

Avneet Singh Marwah: As I have mentioned that we are a 130-year-old company. I think in order to establish any company in India, you should know your basics and be very well versed with consumer behavior. The biggest strength of our company is ‘Make in India’. We are a completely backward integrated company. We do everything in-house, thereby maintaining a consistent standard replete with high-quality product We are not really bothered about the new competition because I don’t think in electronics and especially in the television segment, funded companies can last very long. Ultimately, you must earn margins and work towards smart pricing. These companies are burning money and this strategy never works in India. During their launches, they reduce the price to capture a large market share and once they successfully do, customer perception in India becomes that this brand only offers cheaply priced televisions. The brands then increase their price and step out of the truly affordable category. There are a handful of brands which have used the same strategy but have failed to succeed in India.

 

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