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We Have A Comeback Story To Tell

In an interview with BW, Vijay Mansukhani, MD, Mirc Electronics (Onida) tells Ruhail Amin about the resurgence of Onida, the scope of growth of consumer electronics market in India and the reasons why Indian consumer electronic brands don’t compete on a global scale

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Amidst changing market dynamics, Onida, the brand known for its iconic devil mascot, is making a big comeback. In an interview with BW, Vijay Mansukhani, MD, Mirc Electronics (Onida) tells Ruhail Amin about the resurgence of Onida, the scope of growth of consumer electronics market in India and the reasons why Indian consumer electronic brands don’t compete on a global scale.

Why haven’t the Indian consumer electronic brands been visible compared to other global consumer brands?
There is no simple answer to that. What we got from our earlier association with Japanese companies was their culture and expertise. It was a culture of innovation and quality that we inherited. The joint venture taught us innovation and quality.  When economic liberalisation happened, Samsung and LG came into India with deep pockets and easily dominated the Indian market. Instead of protecting the homegrown industry, we let everyone come in.  To add insult to injury, we had a system where various states in India gave sales tax advantage to MNCs to manufacture and some went even further by giving them options like no excise and no income tax. We had no option but to do fragmented manufacturing with units in different states. What we did to counter this unfair scenario was to cut down on advertising and Onida’s iconic devil disappeared in order to stay afloat.

What would you call the biggest factor that has brought back confidence among Indian brands?
Our patience paid and when GST (Goods and Services Tax) was announced it helped create a level playing field.  Also the ‘Make In India’ campaign helped local brands immensely. We also added the layer of automation in our manufacturing units and we trimmed our workforce to become more efficient and also cut down on cost.

What is the current market climate like for Indian origin consumer electronics brands?
The tables have turned. Now we have a comeback story to tell. For the last five quarters we have been making fabulous profits. This turnaround was also because everyone at Onida kept asking the question —why Onida, which helped us deliver added value. Also, quality for us means that the product will not fail ever. We have also ensured that innovation becomes a big identity for our products.  The biggest strength of Onida that has helped us withstand the storm of MNCs is our world-class R&D unit. Our electrical and mechanical R&D is so strong that we are far superior in picture quality and design than other international brands  

How is the Indian consumer electronic market poised given we don’t have high penetration of TVs and ACs?

Within the consumer electronics industry, I see a growth of 25 per cent annually across all segments. At this moment we are just catering to the domestic demands, we should be in a position to take on international demand too. Chinese brands have been successful in mobiles only; they have not been successful in segments like TVs and ACs and washing machines. We want to make India proud of the ‘Made in India’ label.


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