Air coolers still sing a Symphony

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Symphony Air coolers, one of the market leaders in the air cooling segment – these cooling devices are certainly not off the consumers radar. With several established players in the coolers industry like Kenstar, Usha, Bajaj Electricals, Crown, Onida, Khaitan, some of whom have also exited the business, as well as new entrants like Maharaja Appliances, Symphony has been pursuing aggressive marketing and retail strategies to sustain its customer base.

For its latest summer offering, Storm, a tower cooler in the higher end price range of Rs 12,990 to Rs 14,990, Symphony has unleashed a unique campaign based on the proposition of ‘Bade ghar ka cooler’. The innovative television commercial uses feature film footage of interesting Bollywood shots, and revolves around the utility of the new cooler as a cooling system for large houses. Besides its marketing innovations, Symphony has also succeeded in creating a brand pull through its innovative product displays, and prominence in stores in malls as well as multi-brand outlets, which have been a key growth driver for the brand.

One of the largest air coolers company in the world and having been around for 24 years, Symphony currently enjoys a market share of 45 per cent in the Rs 1,000 crore air cooler industry in India. With an exhaustive range of 15 coolers in different variants like desert, tower, room, and personal coolers, and a price bracket of Rs 4,991 to Rs 14, 990, it has been able to maintain a sound growth trajectory over the years. While it primarily focuses on the mid-income consumer segment, the main drivers of air coolers sales, the company also claims to have secured a prime spot among high-end consumers. Air coolers are more environment friendly, and consume only 5 to 10 per cent electricity as compared to air conditioners. And with the rising awareness and attempts to curb global warming, air coolers have benefited from the ‘green cooling’ factor.

Achal Bakeri, CMD-Symphony Ltd

Comparing the performance of air coolers with air conditioners, Achal Bakeri, CMD, Symphony, says that though the decision between the two rests on budget and choice considerations, air coolers still remain a popular choice. “Air coolers are still bought by Indian consumers, though air conditioners have grown big in numbers. It has been seen that in many parts of India people use both air coolers and air conditioners in homes and in offices as well. Air coolers are more eco-friendly and energy efficient and these have been the reasons for air coolers sustainability in the market,“ he says. According to him, the company’s air coolers are much in demand in North Indian states like Delhi, Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.

Retail & Marketing Focus 
According to Bakeri, Symphony’s four main pillars are design, innovation, brand and network. “Design-driven innovation and green engineering are a sustainable competitive advantage of the company,” says Bakeri. While the company does not feel the need for exclusive tie-ups with malls and retail stores to drive sales, a major factor of Symphony’s success has been its retail network, which has grown from 3,000 to 10,200 in the last three years. Retail chains like Reliance Retail, Croma, Big Bazaar, Spencers and Vijay Sales are the major contributors to Symphony’s air cooler sales.

On the distribution front, the company has plans to increase its distribution network from the current figure of 550 to 850 in the next one year.

Global connect 
Besides establishing a domestic grip, Symphony has also widened its global footprint and has a presence in 60 countries. Through its operations in different parts of the world, with different climatic-cycles, the company has reduced its dependence on seasonal demand and insulated itself to a large extent from the impact of a drop in sales in non-summer months. When it is winter in India, it is summer in a number of other countries, marked by a potentially robust demand for air cooling solutions. As a result, the brand’s export volumes have increased from 4,667 coolers in 2003-04 to 1,27,159 coolers in 2010-11. In 2008, another feather was added to its cap, when the air cooler brand acquired Mexico based air cooler company, IMPCO, and used its association with large format stores like Wal-Mart, Sears, Home Depot, Lowes, Famsa and Costco, among others, to widen its presence in North, South and Central America.Currently, domestic sales contribute to 65 per cent and exports 35 per cent to the total sales of Symphony. In a bid to strengthen its global presence, the company is targeting to expand its operations from 60 countries to 100 countries in the next three to four years.

Overall, the company is planning to increase its turnover from the existing Rs 300 crore to an impressive Rs 500 crore by 2014-2015.

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