Rahul Thakkar, General Manager of the Housing Division at Panasonic Life Solutions India Pvt Ltd, recently visited Kathmandu for the launch of the company's first international interior solution showroom in Nepal. Panasonic Life Solutions India Pvt Ltd has partnered with local firm Rukmani Group to distribute Panasonic Home and Living products in Nepal. Tamish Giri of New Business Age sat with Thakkar to know about the company’s plan for Nepal. Excerpts:
What brought you to Nepal?
Nepal is one of the emerging markets in the SAARC region, and it is taking bold steps in reforming its economy. The country has sustained well during the Covid-19 pandemic. The Nepali population is inclined towards purchasing good quality brands, which makes it a prime market for our company. As a 103-year-old company, we have decided to focus on this market for one of our second-largest divisions, which is our solutions division. Partnering with Rukmani Group, which has a complete understanding of the market size and potential, energises us to bring all our solutions to Nepal. We are grateful to Rukmani Group for this opportunity.
What encouraged Panasonic Life Solution to enter the Nepali market?
The Nepali market is one of the key growth drivers in the SAARC region, and it has a strong economy despite the current global situation. This is what attracted us to bring our solutions to this market. Additionally, the impact of Covid-19 has caused a shift in consumer behaviour, with people now more inclined to spend on good brands and lifestyles. This is the important thing that attracted us to the Nepali market.
How do you observe the market here? What challenges and opportunities do you see in Nepal?
We see the Nepali market as an opportunity for affordable luxury and mass market segments, both of which are important for our company. As a Japanese company, Panasonic values connecting with consumers, and we can see a high level of trust in our brand here. Strong spending power, stable economy and strong presence of our partner attracted us to Nepal with new products and solutions. The Nepali market is changing at a fast pace, but it is not yet at its peak stage. This presents an opportunity for us to educate consumers about our solutions and bring a range of products, from carpentry to modular and lifestyle products. It may take some time, but we are optimistic about our partnership with Rukmani Group and the potential for growth in this market.
What models of Panasonic products are you introducing? How are these models different from the other products available in Nepal?
We will have complete solutions here. We are a 30-billion-dollar organisation and one of the leading brands in the world. It is also the second largest division of Panasonic Corporation. With a portfolio of over 840 products, our solutions are a benchmark in the industry. We are starting our journey in Nepal with modular kitchens, wardrobes, flooring, smart cleaning solutions, which are in high demand in this market. Additionally, we plan to bring smart toilets and modular bathrooms to the Nepali market gradually. We are excited to offer these products and solutions to the Nepali consumers.
Our products are designed to meet the needs of the Nepali consumer. For example, our kitchens are consumer-friendly and designed to sustain heat, water and other elements. They are built with first class degree board and disk distractors, and come with a 10-year replacement warranty. Not only are our products sustainable, but they are also stylish and technologically advanced, such as the smart trolley. We offer solutions for every age group and family type. Our products are eco-friendly and designed to adjust to different weather conditions, demographic and sociological needs. Our solutions are advanced and are tailored to meet the interior design needs of the Nepali market."
What are the USPs of Panasonic products?
Our products not only focus on sustainability with a 10-year warranty but also on providing excellent in-house service by Panasonic. We have set up a strong service team with our partner Rukmani Group to ensure our customers receive the best service. Our smart features like the trolley and SS drawer system also increase the longevity of our products, making it convenient for our customers. Our products are also designed to be carpenter-free, allowing for easy installation and management by the end-user, specifically women, which is not offered by any other brand in the world.
What strategies have you planned for Nepal?
With our partner Rukmani Group, we already have a strong network in Nepal which allows us to easily utilise their existing network. We plan to have a presence with multiple showrooms that will allow consumers to experience our products easily. In addition, we will be using mobile showrooms in the form of kitchen on wheels to bring our products closer to our customers. Furthermore, we will be connecting with influencers such as architects and builders and showcasing our products in their projects, so that consumers can experience the richness of our products. Lastly, we will be setting up an after-sales service team to provide a better service experience for our customers. These are the key strategies we are implementing in Nepal.
Where can people buy your products in Nepal?
Our partner Rukmani Group has a strong presence in the market. We are also in the process of opening showrooms. Currently, three showrooms have already been established and a fourth one is in the process of being set up. We are also developing a network of shops to bring the kitchen experience closer to the consumers.
What is your suggestion to the people looking to buy your product?
We are bringing daily life products to our customers which make their life easy. At Panasonic, our tagline is about connecting people, and we strive to live up to this ethos in the Nepali market. You can see Rukmani Group’s logo on our products. Our goal is to make a positive impact on the lives of our customers through our products and solutions.