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Avneet Singh Marwah on Kodak’s 2024 Growth and Innovations in Indian TV Market

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As the CEO of Super Plastronics Pvt Ltd, a Kodak Brand Licensee, Avneet Singh Marwah’s leadership has been instrumental in charting Kodak’s unprecedented expansion within the nation. With a steadfast commitment to research and development, he is revolutionizing Kodak’s trajectory, driving the design, development, and manufacturing of cutting-edge products in India. In this exclusive interview, Marwah unveils Kodak’s bold strategies, addresses pressing challenges, and offers a glimpse into the brand’s forthcoming innovations for 2024.

Can you elaborate on Kodak’s performance in 2023, especially regarding the surge in 4Ks and QLEDs? How did Kodak leverage this trend?

2023 was indeed an exceptional year for Kodak. We witnessed remarkable year-on-year growth, especially in the realm of 4K and QLED televisions. Previously, Kodak was primarily associated with entry-level TVs, typically in the 32” and 40” range. However, the landscape shifted significantly in 2022 and particularly in 2023, with consumers increasingly gravitating towards larger screens, such as our 65-inch offerings. The uptake in demand for these premium displays surpassed even our most optimistic projections, with a staggering increase of over 300%. This surge not only speaks to the confidence consumers have in the Kodak brand but also underscores the nostalgic appeal and equity that the brand commands among our customer base.

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Furthermore, there was a notable shift in consumer behavior regarding purchasing channels. While there were initial inquiries regarding our focus on e-commerce over offline retail, we adapted our strategy to meet evolving market dynamics, especially in light of the pandemic. As things gradually returned to normalcy, we observed a substantial spike in offline sales. Leveraging this insight, we embarked on a strategic revamp, particularly in regions like central, western, and southern India, where our offline presence flourished. Notably, markets such as Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand in the northern region have exhibited immense potential, contributing significantly to our growth trajectory. By the end of 2024, we anticipate expanding our offline footprint to encompass over 20,000 billing counters nationwide. This holistic approach, combining both online and offline strategies, has been pivotal in sustaining a robust bottom line and propelling us forward into 2024.

Looking ahead to 2024, does the company plan to sustain the focus on 4K and QLEDs, or are there plans to integrate new technologies to enhance competitiveness in the market?

While we continue to excel in the 4K and QLED domains, we’re also exploring avenues for further differentiation. In fact, we’re currently in the midst of developing a groundbreaking technology that promises to disrupt the market. Anticipate a significant unveiling by the middle of this year. Our strategy revolves around staying at the forefront of technological advancements, aligning with the evolving landscape of the Indian market. Over the past five years, we’ve consistently upgraded our television offerings to meet consumer demands, and 2024 will be no exception.

How does Kodak adapt to shifting consumer preferences in TV sizes, especially with the decreasing popularity of smaller TVs like 32 inches and the rising demand for larger screens above 45 inches?

Kodak has a rich history in understanding consumer preferences in the television market. Previously, when the smart TV segment dominated, Kodak commanded a remarkable 90% share compared to the market’s 70-65%. This exemplifies our ability to anticipate and stay ahead of market trends. Similarly, with the emergence of QLEDs and 4Ks, we witnessed a similar pattern of consumer acceptance outpacing market shifts.

Regarding size preferences, it’s evident that 32 inches no longer reign supreme. In fact, they now constitute only about 35% of our sales. Larger sizes, particularly 40 and 43 inches, have gained prominence, comprising the remaining 65%. Notably, the 55-inch segment has emerged as a disruptor, offering compelling pricing and features that resonate well with consumers.

As you rightly pointed out, there’s a notable trend towards larger screen sizes across all tiers, from urban to rural areas. This can be attributed to various factors, including the desire for secondary or personal content consumption TVs. With improving internet speeds and connectivity even in rural areas, we anticipate continued growth in demand for larger-sized TVs, particularly QLEDs and 4Ks, across all segments of the market.

How does the TV industry, including Kodak, deal with the challenge of rising prices in open cell panels? Do you think government intervention or policy changes are needed to help manufacturers? Are there other solutions to mitigate the impact of these rising prices?

The reality is that the global market for open cell panels is heavily reliant on a handful of companies, primarily based in China and Korea, with a significant portion owned by the state governments of China. Any fluctuations in prices or supply are often influenced by governmental actions or regulations. If there were to be interventions from governments or international bodies like the WTO, it could potentially alleviate some of the pressure caused by rising prices. However, this would require coordinated efforts on a global scale.

It’s essential to acknowledge that the current situation has evolved over the past couple of decades, with certain countries successfully establishing dominance in this sector. Looking ahead, it’s imperative for every country to learn from this and strive towards establishing local production capabilities. While the idea of local production may seem appealing, the reality is that the initial investments required are substantial, and the returns may not be immediate or guaranteed, especially given the current global economic climate.

Many companies, including Kodak, are keen to address this issue and explore alternatives, but significant hurdles remain, including regulatory clearances and securing investments. Despite the challenges, there’s a collective effort within the industry to find solutions and reduce dependency on a handful of suppliers, which would ultimately benefit both manufacturers and consumers alike.

Furthermore, the fluctuating prices of raw materials often disrupt the market, particularly in a price-sensitive market like India. Any increase in material costs directly impacts consumer demand, leading to a decline in sales. These challenges underscore the need for strategic measures to diversify supply chains and enhance software development capabilities within the industry.

Can you detail Kodak’s specific strategies for expanding offline partnerships and strengthening ties with distributors in 2024?

Kodak’s focus in 2024 remains on bridging the gap between offline and online pricing, ensuring parity and competitiveness across both channels. We are committed to providing our offline partners with the necessary margins to thrive in the market while ensuring that our products remain affordably priced and competitive, both online and offline. It’s crucial for us to support our partners so that they don’t incur losses and receive the value they deserve for their efforts.

Moreover, we aim to create a compelling narrative for our offline presence, leveraging the strength of our brand’s online presence while bolstering our offline footprint. This integrated approach is essential to tap into the vast potential of regional retail markets, which are experiencing significant growth. While we’ve encountered challenges in the past, the lessons learned have informed our strategy for 2024, emphasizing the symbiotic relationship between ecommerce and offline channels. Ultimately, our goal is to ensure that Kodak remains accessible and appealing to consumers across all channels, driving growth and expansion in both the online and offline spheres.

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