LG to focus on premium goods in 2008

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Mumbai, Dec 23: Electronics major LG Electronics India Ltd (LGEIL), subsidiary of South Korea-based company, perceived as manufacturer of cheap(er) electronic goods and household appliances, will undergo an image makeover next year by pushing its premium appliances to the frontline.

The decision to this effect was taken by LGEIL's think-tank to brush up their public image and place in the consumer durables chain. In fact, its image as producer of affordable electronic and home appliances helped the company, with its bottomline consistently growing to Rs 8,780 crore till November this year from Rs 8,250 crore last year. In 1997, when the company commenced its operations in the country, its total turnover was Rs 125 crore.

According to company officials, the company wants to reinforce the quality of their mid- and high-end goods under its stable like its front loading washing machines, LCD televisions, refrigerators, GSM handsets and IT products like laptops. For this end, LG has kept aside Rs 384 crore for marketing, an increase of 20 per cent.

Says LG brand manager Ketan Girap, ''As per an ORG-GFK survey made this year, we are No 1 with a market share of 26 per cent in consumer durables, electronics and appliances in terms of sales and value.'' He says by keeping its mid and premium range of products in the frontline will not only convince consumers on the range and quality of its products but also increase their sales. The mid and premium range are expected to contribute up to 30 per cent of the company's total sales by 2008 from 20-22 per cent during the previous fiscal.

The timing of this makeover may be more influenced by the country's booming economy, which has provided the Indian consumer with more disposible income and making them, well, more choosy about the products and brands they associate themselves with. And being perceived as an economy brand, might be a liability then, they explained.

A strategic move was made in this regard a couple of months ago when, resisting trend, the company refused to give discounts or free gifts during the Diwali season.

''We had to persuade and convince our dealers on the viability of our new strategy. We only gave them 2 per cent extra, but it paid off,'' said Marketing Head Amit Gupta. The company registered an increase of 34 per cent in units sold during the period.

Over the years, LG has, like a lot of Korean companies, earned its reputation in the global market and has often led in many fields with innovative and well made products. They are now what Japanese companies were in the 80s' -- producers of innovative, reliable and affordable products that range from consumer durables, cars to super conductors.

Early this year, the company had tied up with top Italian label, Prada, to launch a premium handset following its 'Shine' series. It is only in India, presumably to create a strong base that it has 'diluted' its image.

Now, the company has hurridly upped its image quotient for the increasingly well heeled Indian consumers with more purchasing powers and refined tastes. And even though company officials here deny it, one shouldn't be surprised if a Bollywood star or an Indian fashion label is roped in for some heavy-duty campaign to help its 'Cinderella' like transformation.

UNI

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