Business / Corporate

Panasonic India plans big push in smartphone market dominated by Chinese, South Korean brands

by Atul Ranjan

Nna/kyodo

Panasonic Corp.’s Indian subsidiary will invest 1.5 billion rupees ($23.4 million) in its mobility division in the current fiscal year ending next March to step up efforts to improve its smartphone business in Asia’s third-largest economy, according to senior company officials.

Panasonic India Pvt. Ltd. has planned a major marketing campaign across print, television, radio and social media to boost brand recognition in a market dominated by Chinese and South Korean competitors.

“India happens to be an important market for our mobile phone business as we look to expand this business in other different geographies in future,” said Manish Sharma, president of Panasonic India.

The local arm has set a revenue target of over 16 billion rupees from its mobility division with a plan to sell 3 million handsets in the year to next March.

Pankaj Rana, head of the mobility division, told NNA that the company has a market share of just over 1 percent. “We have 400-plus sales team members now, (and) over 100 members in various functions like design, research and development, testing, etc. in our division,” said Rana.

According to research firm India Ratings & Research under the U.S. Fitch Ratings group, Chinese smartphone brands currently dominate the Indian market with a 51 percent market share on the back of their substantial advertising spending.

“The increasing strength of Chinese mobile phone manufacturers in the smartphone market is reflected in the 3.4 times growth in their market share to 51 percent in the January-March period of 2017 from a year earlier in the Indian market,” said the research firm. South Korea’s Samsung Group remained the market leader with a 28 percent share during the period, it said.

Tarun Pathak, analyst at Counterpoint Technology Market Research, said, “The Japanese company needs to help create its mobility division with its own identity as the mobile phone segment is an entirely different market. It can’t depend on the brand’s halo effect alone to drive its growth.”