labels: electronics - consumer, marketing - general
Fighting near the peak of colour TV salesnews
Anita Sharan
26 July 1999

As the market share gap between colour TV brands narrows, some of the marketers are getting more restive. While the main battle rages at the strategic level , smaller skirmishes are breaking out over market figures generated by research agencies.

A greater sense of urgency has brought monthly sales figures into focus. So concerned have companies become about these figures that the numbers have become the subject of a battle between Videocon, one of the most aggressive players in the consumer electronics market, and ORG, the well-known market research firm whose surveys were the only ones available until recently to a feedback-hungry industry.

Two Indian brands are fighting for the number two position in the domestic market, one happy enough to go by the ORG-GFK figures, the other strongly questioning their accuracy.

The Rs 688-crore Mirc Electronics, owner of , has been quite happy to go by the ORG-GFK May reading of a 10.6 per cent market share by volume, since that puts it at the number two position. Videocon has an ORG-GFK reading of a 10.5 per cent share. In value terms ORG-GFK placed Onida's share at 10.6 per cent and Videocon's at 9.8 per cent.

is, of course, having none of that. It has slapped a legal notice on ORG over what it argues are distorted figures. "The matter of ORG's dealer sample is serious and we are taking up the issue strongly with it," says Nabankur Gupta, Videocon's director for sales and marketing.

"In a market as dynamic as that of colour televisions, you need to pay attention to the dealer sample size," Mr Gupta stresses. "Since 1995, ORG has added only 60 dealers to its list. According to our own research so far, 45 per cent of the Indian market, in terms of dealers in metros and mini-metros, is not covered in the ORG panel." By a calculation of its own factory despatches in May, the company claims an 18-20 per cent share for the Videocon brand alone.

This is but a small reflection of the frenzied competitiveness that has gripped the colour TV market. Competition from multinational brands is putting pressure on the front-runners, all Indian, to first protect their positions and then grab share from brands that lead over them. K.S. Raman, president of the Consumer Electronics and Television Manufacturers Association, or Cetma, believes that .

Enthused by its resurgence in the Indian marketplace, after dropping share since the late 80s-early 90s when it was at number one position, Onida has begun dreaming of making it back to the number one position again, and soon. "By the year 2001, we intend to become market leaders. We are confident we will make it though the battle will be fierce and tough," says G. Sundar, Mirc's chief executive officer.

Sure, the battle will be fierce and tough. BPL has been consistently leading the pack in CTVs. Its May share (by ORG-GFK's reckoning) was 20.5 per cent by volume in May 1999, up from 19.7 in April. This Bangalore-based group has managed to establish an image of brand assurance and technology with Indian consumers.

Competition has sharpened with the entry of multinational brands that have lately been doing well. Leading this pack is Aiwa, which managed to snatch the number four position in May with a 9.4 per cent share, up from 5.8 per cent and sixth position in April. Samsung, which managed to touch the number four position in April with a 7.8 per cent, slid to fifth rank in May, in spite of an increase in share to 8.3 per cent.

Philips, which, with a 7.5 per cent share in April, had the fifth position, found its share sliding by 0.1 per cent in May and its rank by one notch. In terms of pure share strength, LG Electronics managed to improve its position in May with a 6.5 per cent share, up from 5.4 per cent in April. And Sony improved its market share by 0.1 per cent in May over April, to touch 3.7 per cent.

There was a time when players in the CTV industry used to scoff at monthly figures as indicators of brand strength -- annual figures were considered a surer measure. But though annual figures still remain the barometer for brand ranking, the narrowing of the gap in market shares month-on-month is being watched keenly by every player.It's now a question of protecting and building shares over the very short term into the future.

Undoubtedly, we are looking at a situation of very brisk churning in the CTV market. The noise levels will heighten further, never mind that the World Cup cricket has come and gone. There will be other pegs on which to hang new marketing campaigns.

 

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Fighting near the peak of colour TV sales