Kodak TV industry visit: A brand that learns from its own mistakes

We are not from out of the Planet, nor we are God, but like life and technology, we learn and evolve our selves for the future, a dictum by Mr Avneet Singh Marwah, Director and CEO, Super Plastronics and a brand licensee for Kodak TV in India. 

A few years ago, if someone said to you that he is going to buy a Kodak TV then you might have laughed on him; since the perception of the Kodak in our mind was only a Camera brand which is lost somewhere now. Since the hard work of Mr Avneet Singh Marwah and his team has changed the image of this American Camera brand into a popular TV brand in India.

Lately, the company has announced that they have started a new automated manufacturing line with upgraded technology, which not only increases the production but also the quality of Kodak TVs. The company has invested around Rs 150 crore for the expansion of its manufacturing capacity and planning to sell around five lakh units by 2020-21.

To experience this new Kodak facility, in person I had visited Noida-based Super Plastronics and interacted with Avneet Singh Marwah. This humble person escorted and helped me to understand how they make affordable and budget-friendly TVs?

The whole setup of the facility is arranged in a very professional way, there are multiple stages in which the production line works. The first thing they do is to get all components of the TV at one place after testing them in different other location or arms of Super Plastronics. For example PCB board, Panel, Remote and so on…

The second stage in the assembling is to shape the front panel of Kodak TVs. For that, they have a separate area which is designed to keep LED Display and Panels where one can enter after wearing anti-static clothes, mask and cap only. It is because to make sure the environment while sealing the LED display panel to the Plastic moulded body of the TV, should be dirt and dust-free.

Inside the chamber, while the workers were meticulously examining and fabricating the front panels of Kodak TVs, I asked Mr Marwah, “what changes he is expecting in business after overhauling the existing production lines?”

He said, ” the changes will be significant, India is not anymore where traditional ways are feasible, it has been shifted, rigorously. For example, there was an era when people only like DDJL like movies and now not only old generation but youngster also want to watch Article 50 to talk on social issues, so that kind of diversity has been in India, now.

Kodak TV display side panel strips

Scrutinying and fixing of Kodak TV bezels on the body of TV

Another prime example, everybody is seeing a declining in the automobile industry which doesn’t bewilder me, it has to be when public transport such as Ola and Uber start getting the pinnacle of momentum. It is obvious when a company targeting 75 or 100 cities with good service ultimately people will start preferring it and, the new and upcoming generation will divert too since they feel most comfortable in public transport rather driving their own vehicle. So this is how we have to adapt.

LED display fixing Kodak TV
Kodak TV Display Assembling

Placing White Reflector plus Light-emitting diode (LED) on the back panel over which display will be placed. Besides producing the light it will also be confided and thwart the leakage of it. It is not there we ill not be able to see bright pictures of the LED TVs.

That’s why we overhauled our production line because we know we have to target the new generation’s bulk Smart Tv requirements while maintaining their satisfaction level. Even when we launched Kodak in 2016 from that particular day our percentage of Smart TVs was 56 Percent. It was because we got to know-how market is changing and therefore adaption is indispensable if we want to walk abreast with customers requirements to make them full fill. And rather seeing that in India Smart Tvs would not work, internet speed is not there, villages where electricity is still out of the reach, we didn’t drop the idea of making the Smart TVs.

Instead of this, we should think India is a progressive country and in terms of customers we have for S-class as well as Alto and Celerio; India is that vast as a country and market.

LED display PCB

Guided Liquid Crystal Display Panel and its PCB

I was a feeling great to see each and every part of the display. Once Kodak front panel and PCB have attached, its time to further testing. All the pieces placed over an automatic line which takes them through different stages where the expert force of workers check and stamp that the components are at the right place and working as they have to be.

Kodak PCB line
Kodak TV manufacturing line

Hundreds of units were on the production line and the same amount on the packaging end, thus I asked Mr Avneet, what is the total change in the output of TV units now he has after this automatic line, he expressed, earlier it was not that much but now happily we have escalated it to 3000 units per day. Well, I started frowning, is that much consumption of Kodak TVs there in the market. Well, he cleared my that doubt as well, he said, Yes, we have, that’s why we are producing that much, we are on 120 Percent of capacity right now. And Seeing the future and this festive season, it will be more than 120 Percent of the capacity soon…

You might be thinking that why I asked this question to him, it is because of the economy slow down in India, the government is saying that consumers are not purchasing goods as before and here Kodak is making 3000 units per day, strange, isn’t it?

Mr Marwah, also cleared this dilemma of mine, as per his version, what has changed before and after, why we have economy slow down?

It is because if we will not offer correct pricing to the customers eventually he/she will avoid buying.

Why he’s avoiding because he thinks that the value for money proposition is not there in the product, we need to understand, what we are plating to customers, it should make him realize that what he is getting is at the right price and of value. Actually, we are in a country where the previous generation used to have three pairs of pants and two shirts; you must have heard from your elders saying “Do jodi kapda”. So we came from that conservative market but now options are many. With those many options, but without the right price, thus, selling and buying are not happening according to the supplier. Therefore, one of the main agenda of every business is how he/she could get a value for money deal. For example, if you see mobiles there is no slow down in that market, this year also as per the data smartphone industry is growing why? Because these Chinese players are giving a superb value proposition to their customers.

In the say way, if a Smart Tv of 32 inches selling by some Tier-I brand is available at 17000 INR and other players offering the same TV with same specs, quality, and display panel at 9999 INR, you tell me, which one will you buy?

Ohh! we were so busy in talking, we didn’t realize that TVs are now ready for Display Testing. On the same line, each TV has a power source; all units automatically get power On/Off plus change multiple colours continuously. It shows, the LCD is working fine and there are no defects at all.

Kodak TV display Test
Display Life Test

Well! The festive season is here, I thought why not get some insights on what kind of discounts or offers we can expect on Kodak TVs?

However, Mr Marwah didn’t say anything clearly but gave us some hint, he said, Festive season will be a great big surprise for all our customers, I will not be able to hint you right now but our whole strategy is to provide 55-inch Smart Tv around 43K; So you can imagine what kind of disruptions will be there. Moreover, as a brand owner, we need to take care that India should expand to a bigger screen; for any developing economy, we need the biggest change and gain in households things. Plus in terms of lower TV sizes, you will get never seen prices before and this would become a huge benefit for customers.

But Mr Marwah online and offline markets are different, so both the verticles will get the same offers?

Indeed both the verticals will get benefits, however, online would be slightly at the upper hand.

See online reach is really huge. Let me give you one fact. This year we covered 97 Percent of the pin code for one SKU, so people who were thinking that online will just do 30 to 40 Percent of the pin code, it is big answer to them. Thus, the reach is expanding but the offline market is not growing as it has to be, one problem with offline is for two decades only three brands are taking care of the market they are not giving space to other brands. That is why all the affordable brands are struggling. However, we have got some space whether it is online or offline and what we have got, Kodak is attaining 25 Percent of the counter share of those particular LFR. So, the moment offline starts believing that affordable brands have a lot of things to offer we will expand offline as well. But as of now, there would be more disruption in online than offline.

Now, Kodak TVs journey from just an empty framework to become a final product has been done, it time to pack them up.

Kodak TV packaging

Before leaving the facility, we also had some chit chat on some business and service points…

So, Mr Singh, how much market share are you targeting right now?

Well! Mr Raj, when we started in 2016, we said will acquire two Percent of market share and we did that. If you talk about the SPPL market share with this new facility line we are determined to achieve about 7 Percent by 2022, we already have reached about 5 Percent and currently, if you see Kodak, we are close to 3 Percent right now.

Furthermore, Mr Singh also mentioned, many times people think that low price means cheap quality but he always rebutting this ideology. He said we are not offering anything cheap but the right thing at the right price at the right time. We don’t spend money on useless advertisements or social media promotions or on some brand ambassador or celebrity. We refrain ourselves from such method of promotion and believes in the Word-of-mouth publicity, if the product is up to the mark it will get sold and this is how we are able to offer correct pricing.

What about the Kodak after-sales services, Mr Avneet, many people say affordable TVs after-sales services are not top of the line in India? What is your take on this?

We have warehouses in Jammu, Himachal, Punjab, Ludhiana, Mohali, Haryana, Ambala, in NCR we have two offices furthermore offices in Mumbai and more. You might haven’t seen any Indian TV brand with such kind of vast reach and branches. Plus where there is a Flipkart TV warehouse, we will also have our office in its vicinity of 25 kilometres.

That kind of backward integration this brand has done in the past six years and we are in this industry for 35 years as of now. Our motive is not to make lavish offices or factories instead of creating well & stable infrastructure. So that we can get the best of the production quality. Coming back to the service centre. We have 350 own service centres and 220 tie-ups and now we also have tied up with TVS; cumulatively it makes a chain of 700 service centres in India. I don’t know about the top three service centres but even big brands don’t have such kind of service arms. We started with one consumer care person but now we have a team of more than 50. And if Kodak would not be able to provide good service, I would have pulled out of my TV products from Amazon and Flipkart long ago.

Yes, being an electronic product there could be some problem. But we have solutions for it. And I always say that consumer care is my biggest challenge and focus.

Recently, you have launched XPRO series with lots of revamping. Will this be able to woo or attract new customers of India.

Absolutely, we have learned a lot of things from Bloggers and media reviews over the years. We can’t launch the best TV since day one, we learn from market feedback and accordingly we implement features. We understand consumer behaviour. We started with Android 4.4 version and today we have 7.0 and now we are planning to shift our TVs to Android 9.0. We have implemented 4K videos support in our TVs Youtube app, introduced new and compact remote with the exclusive design, it only has 16 keys along with a mute button. We did, all this after carefully examine the feedbacks of customers, what they actually need and this all shows how India is changing.

The last question which I asked Mr Marwah was also very important. According to media reports, India is struggling with low job opportunities, so how many jobs SPPL has created so far?

Well! the SPPL, I think in this 3 or 4 year has created more than 400 new jobs. If you talk about indirect than 2000 people in these 4 years, however, directly and indirectly, it is more than 2000.

So, this was my small excursion to Kodak TV facility situated in Noida, NCR. I had a really wonderful experience there while getting information about the product and watching the production and workers those were working calmly…