Rukmani Group, a leading business entity in Nepal collaborated with Panasonic Life Solution India Pvt. Ltd to launch Panasonic’s first international interior solution showroom in Nepal to distribute Panasonic Home and Living products. Tamish Giri from New Business Age sat down with Aditya Raj Budhiya, Executive Director of Rukmani Group, to discuss the company’s plan with Panasonic Home and Living products for Nepal. Excerpts:
What encouraged Rukmani Group to collaborate with Panasonic?
As a company, our vision has always been to bring world-class brands to Nepal. We aim to bring the best luxury products and amenities from around the world to the Nepali market and promote them among the Nepali people. Panasonic is one of the leading brands in the world, and their product portfolio promotes sustainability, luxury, and convenience. That is what we wanted to bring to the Nepali market.
What are your plans with Panasonic?
Panasonic is a well-known brand worldwide. Their products, such as their kitchens, feature simple yet luxurious storage solutions. Their smart storage options offer an additional 10-15% storage space in every kitchen. Furthermore, their accessories are designed to make life easier for people. Our goal is to promote Panasonic and its products among the Nepali people, and we want to work together to spread the brand across the country.
Who are your targeted customers?
The company targets both mass and luxury segments of customers. Panasonic's tagline for the kitchen is "affordable luxury," which means that their products offer both luxury and affordability. Our targeted segment includes people who are building houses and seeking good quality products.
What is your strategy to promote Panasonic in Nepal?
Initially, our focus will be on opening more showrooms. We have already opened our first showroom, and we have two more in the pipeline. We will integrate these showrooms with Panasonic products to reach a wider audience. Within the next two years, we plan to open four to five stores in major cities across Nepal. Additionally, we will introduce a new concept in the Nepali market: the kitchen on wheels. This will enable us to travel across cities and promote the kitchen, reaching more consumers and increasing awareness about our products.
What opportunities and challenges do you see for Panasonic in Nepal?
Nepal is a land of opportunities. We have seen a significant gap in the market for modular kitchens and wardrobes. The main problems Nepali customers face with kitchens are poor installation, low-quality products, and inadequate after-sales service. These are the issues we aim to address. With regards to quality, Panasonic products are second to none. The entire Panasonic team will be stationed in Nepal, so there will be no problems with installation or after-sales service. To further provide peace of mind, we will offer a 10-year replacement warranty, which is not offered by any other company in Nepal or around the world. For the first three years, we will also offer free servicing, with a technical team visiting each client's house every six months to check for any issues.
The main challenge we face currently is increasing customer awareness about the Panasonic kitchen brand in Nepal. Although Panasonic is well-known for its switches and home appliances, the concept of a Panasonic kitchen in Nepal is relatively new. It will take time to raise awareness and promote our products effectively.
What is your target with Panasonic for the first year?
In the first year, our plan is to install around 100 kitchens for retail customers. We are already in talks with two to three prominent projects. In addition to those, our goal is to install 100 kitchens. From there, we plan to gradually grow our business.
Who do you see as your competitors?
The main competition for the luxury El class series is currently limited, as no other international brand has made a presence in Nepal. There are not many prominent, internationally acclaimed kitchen brands in Nepal. The main challenge we face is competition from local carpenters and installation companies, who believe that imported products won't meet local quality standards. However, the sturdiness of the Panasonic kitchen has been specifically designed to cater to the Nepalese market.
What strategy will you implement to overtake the market?
First, we will focus on promoting the brand. Secondly, once we start installing kitchens, customers will be able to see the quality of our products. We hope that satisfied customers will refer us to future customers.
What value do you think Panasonic products will add to Nepali consumers?
By bringing Panasonic products, we want to fill the void that exists in the Nepali market. Not only kitchens, we have seated shower systems which are very good for elderly people. It's a kind of body massage bath. Panasonic’s flooring and exterior solutions can work wonders in the Nepali market. As far as the exterior planning market is considered, I don't see any prominent player in Nepal. With its quality and features, Panasonic is poised to make a big impact in the Nepali market.