Haier India Private Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of the $9.2-billion Chinese home appliances and consumer electronics major, Haier Group, has plans to launch its mobile handsets by mid-January 2005, confirmed T.K. Banerjee, President and CEO, Haier India.
“The handsets are ready for launch and we are tying up the final logistics,” he said. Banerjee informed that initially, six handset models would be introduced.
“We are looking at selling at least half a million handsets in 2005 and we have a very strong strategy lined up for this. In January we will launch GSM handsets but at a later stage we will also be marketing our CDMA handsets,” Banerjee said.
Asked about pricing, he said, “We are following the same strategy as we always have. We have always followed a premium pricing strategy because of the unique features and quality of our various products. It will be the same for mobile handsets too. Even in the basic or entry level segment, our handset prices will be marginally higher than competing models because of the unique features we are introducing.”
A comprehensive communication plan has been lined up for the handsets launch and it would be as aggressive as the brand communication for other Haier products launched in 2004, Banerjee said.
Interestingly, the company has many plans for the coming year. Manufacturing unit for CTVs and an R&D centre are the major ones. “The manufacturing unit will be primarily for television. At a later stage we will expand our local manufacturing in a phased manner for other products too. We are yet to decide on the location for our manufacturing facility but the plans are already on the drawing board,” he said. Haier is looking at 90-100 per cent indigenisation over time. “There is no need for us to make direct cool refrigerators with imported compressors. So we are looking at a good level of indigenisation,” he informed.
Banerjee strongly refuted the notion that Chinese products were low-priced because of low quality. “Today, almost 80 per cent of the mobile phones sold in India, whatever be the brand, are outsourced from China. In fact, everybody is importing from China. Even the Koreans are importing microwaves from China. Except a couple of manufacturers, almost everybody brings split airconditioners from China. This is a very wrong perception resulting from unscrupulous traders and businessmen who bring in poor quality products from China to make a fast buck here,” explained Banerjee.
“We are a global player and we are not ashamed of the fact that we are born in China. We take pride in the fact that Haier today is second best appliances brand globally,” Banerjee said, pointing to a Forbes magazine study.
As part of its long-term plans, the company is also looking at making India a sourcing hub. “This is our dream and this is what we are looking at in the near future,” he said.