kenwoodKenwood, one of the leading car infotainment solutions providers in India, is soon expected to launch highend audio systems to tap the maturing Indian market.

Equipped with innovative technology, the new audio systems will target the youth who carry their world around on their mobiles. “The new product will offer users the kind of convenience that the smart-phone gives,” said Takeshi Shimmen, marketing head (car electronics business group) at Kenwood India. The technology helps mirror the smart-phone screen on audio system’s display, thus allowing all media on phone to be played through the audio system, he added. Kenwood is hoping that the new technology will help strengthen its stand in a shaky market. The effect of slowdown in car sales has now trickled down to the allied industry, which has nowhere to go but in the direction where the OEM industry is heading to. The company boasts of the state-of-the-art and unique ‘Network

Navigation’ model – DNN 9330 BT, that has just hit the Indian market. With the support of smart phone through Wi-fi, the equipment can get connected to the world of internet, enabling users to feel the comfort of the office while sitting in their car too.

Shimmen was of the opinion that this model could be a real trendsetter or a game-changer in the in-car entertainment arena, as Indians, especially the youth, are fun-loving and net-savvy. In 2010, when the Indian auto industry was going strong, it was estimated to be a near Rs 100 crore market that was expected to grow immensely. After tyres, the car infotainment system was the fastest growing accessory product. However, the overall slowdown in the market has hurt this industry the most.

ShimmenTo stay afloat in this market, Kenwood is now shifting its focus from entrylevel audio systems towards the highend segment. These are tough times to compete in a cheaper price segment. Therefore, “we are thinking of additional products that are slightly higher in cost with better features,” said Shimmen. The company will be launching this product in the second half of 2014, he added. Reasoning this stand of the company in a market where cheaper priced models are more popular, he said brand equity will be much more important than volumes. In a mature market, people are expected to give more preference to quality of the product than the price. The company will start with demonstrations of its various products by the end of this month. It is also planning to highlight the presence of their new line-up in most of the metros. “We are still deciding on the methodologies,” said Shimmen.

Kenwood’s decision to shift their focus from entry-level audio systems is primarily motivated by the increasing competition in that segment. The Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000 market is primarily dominated by Sony and Pioneer, and the company believes it will be tougher to make a dent here. “If you look at the prices, there is a significant difference in pricing between our products and those of the said players,” he said. The marketing head, who is well-versed with Indian markets, said that it is getting even tougher in the aftermarket which is shrinking more in India. With many of the car manufacturers adding stereo systems as a standard feature, the number of people going to the aftermarket for a new system is reducing. “Unlike earlier, where we were planning to increase our share in the aftermarket, we are looking to increase our OEM footprint,” he explained.

To safeguard itself from the severity of the downturn, Kenwood is now planning to put their eggs in different baskets. It is planning to increase its attention in the two-way radio segment as well. ACI

Story : J Srikant


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