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The Gurgaon advantage

Philips India is hoping to reposition itself in more ways than one

Four hundred and fifty heads from Philips’ offices in Mumbai, Pune, Chennai, Delhi and Noida will move into a single address in Gurgaon later this year as part of the electronic company’s attempt to create a greater synergy between departments. “Together, we will bring the experience of the marketplace to unlock tonnes of energy and productivity,” says Managing Director and CEO Indian subcontinent for Philips Electronics India, Murali Sivaraman.

India, one of the 16 global centres that reports directly to Philips International in Amsterdam, is reworking its local strategy “to build brand relevance”, Sivaraman explains somewhat passionately, “as we gear to walk the path from technological innovation to being consumer-centric”. The takeaway from the message: combining “sense and sensibility” — its brand salience — in its three areas of operation: lighting, lifestyle products (TVs, audio systems, kitchen gadgets), and healthcare (chiefly in the diagnostics, imaging and scanning space).

Vivek Sharma, Philips India chief marketing officer, who is among those who will move from the Mumbai corporate office to Delhi, says, “As a brand we want to focus on the relevance of high technology to simplify the lives of our consumers.” The strategy for the purpose is not just media-driven communications (”though there will be a significant increase in the share of our voice across media”), but also training in terms of “the purchase experience at the retail end” across the country, as well as after-sales service, the bugbear for companies working in India. “It is a more holistic way of looking at branding,” he says.

“We will build our communications and interactions around our products,” explains Sharma. “Customers will see higher brand visibility for Philips in India, and in local languages,” he says, hinting at a deeper penetration of target markets. Putting this into practice, Philips is planning a blitzkrieg around its recently introduced ultra-violet water filter which, insists Sivaraman, “is not just the most technologically advanced” in the market, it is also “an intelligent machine” that simply switches off when, for instance, the UV capacity has been spent.

According to Sivaraman, India will be one of the key regions where Philips R&D spends will create products and solutions not just for the local market but for emerging markets around the world. Six per cent of the company’s global turnover is spent on research and development. Of the company’s five innovation centres, one is located in India (in Bangalore, where approximately 1,000 people are employed for the purpose); Pune has a design centre, and there is a lighting excellence centre in Noida. These three offices will not be among those that will shift to Gurgaon because “talent is difficult to replicate”.

Sivaraman says the Rs 2,800-crore Indian company is the clear leader in the lighting space (with 25 per cent of the market), is probably number four in the television category, but is in the top two slots in most other consumer appliances, and shares leadership position in professional healthcare with GE and Siemens. “Our DNA,” he says of Philips’s heritage, “is that we are a global player in the forefront of innovation and a powerhouse with deep market insights.”

Sharma says his challenge in an environment, where Philips technology is already proven, is to package it as a “youthful brand”, both in its corporate as well as in individual product positioning. And specifically, Sivaraman points out that “considerable work on innovation in luminaries could be a fountainhead for other markets in the Asia-Pacific”.

All this as soon as it begins to “leverage synergies” from its national office in Gurgaon. Advantage: Philips?


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