Chinese brand TCL, a dark horse, has been influential in the Indian home appliances market recently. The company has an upper hand in the fierce competition among home appliances brand and its market performance in the past 3 years attracts great attention.
In 2017, TCL grew 100% year on year. In 2018, TCL saw a 375% year-on-year increase in sales. In H1 of 2019, the sales of its offline channels are estimated to rise by 500%. The amazing growth rates can’t be neglected by the market. In India, TCL gradually receives a high brand recognition and the desire of buying TCL TVs is increasing.
The Company entered the Indian market before the turn of this decade and has since then been through several ups and downs. It also had to almost exit the market for over a year but since then it has returned even stronger. It has a new team in India and the vision is unmatched that leads them to unprecedented growth in the sub-continent nation.
The growth of TCL
TCL has witnessed huge growth in India especially in the year 2018 with a massive 375% growth. The reason behind the growth is very simple; affordability, reliability and quality is the key. TCL has always strived towards offering the above mentioned three features in their TVs in India. These were the same reasons for the growth of the Chinese smartphone and other consumer electronics and home appliance brands in India over the South Korean, Japanese and American brands.
The main growth point for TCL has proven to be its smart TV segment as it accounted for over 63% as compared to the 48” and above TV segment that accounted for 22% and 4K TVs at 25%. This shows the gradual shift in the Indian technology consumption pattern which is moving towards the AI and IoT based technologies.
Despite the growth, TCL found it difficult all over India to be in the top 3 TV brands as they were captured by the traditionally popular brands such as Sony, LG and Samsung. In fact, as per TRA’s 2019 Brand Trust Report, LG TVs have emerged as the most trusted TV brand in India. However, TCL TVs have grabbed one of the top positions in a few states such as Tamil Nadu. The reason behind a good start of TCL in the first quarter of 2019 is the increase in the local and offline sales. It has been observed that people who visit the offline stores and physically check out the TCL TVs and compare it against TVs with similar specifications but more expensive tags tend to purchase TCL more in 2019. The growth is as much as 10 times that speaks volume about TCL’s growth.
Sean Zhang, assistant president of TCL Corp and general manager of TCL Brand Innovation Center, stated that TCL’s rapid growth in the Indian market is not only driven by consumers’ trust in TCL’s core technology and high-quality products but also driven by TCL’s localized brand building and marketing strategy. In the process of TCL’s globalization, TCL attaches importance to the integration of TCL brand value and brand culture, and local mainstream value and culture. In order to keep the rapid growth tendency of the Chinese brand in globalization, Chinese enterprises should further focus on product and technology innovation as well as brand value output, maintaining balanced development of its product and brand. Over these years, TCL has built and strengthened its leading status in the industry by persistently working on global advertisement, sports and entertainment marketing, which provides a great marketing model for other brands’ globalization.
TCL’s New Products in India
Riding on the rapid growth wave, the brand wants to capitalize currently. A few months ago the brand launched a full series of home appliances such as air conditioners, refrigerators, washing machines, a new line of TVs and even an OTT platform. Amongst all, the OTT platform was a surprise as it was not expected of the hardware technology company to venture into the field of software. Anyway, the OTT platform is very good considering the fact that it has collaborated with the some of the top 8 content creating and sharing platforms in India including Hotstar, Reliance Jio and Voot. This makes it an interesting and attractive OTT platforms in India for many users who will also be consuming the contents on their new smart TVs.
Interestingly, the brand has also launched loads of audio devices ranging from small speakers to audio bars and so on, that could enhance the media consumption for various platforms such as smartphones, tablets, TVs and PCs. Some of the new TVs from TCL also comes with inbuilt Onkyo speakers that enhance the overall feel of the TV with enhanced quality. There is a very interesting point noticed minutely in the range of speakers launched by TCL in India. The speakers have been modified and optimized for.
The launch event was graced by the presence of eminent personalities from the Indian celebrity clout which included most of the popular cricket players from the team of Delhi Capitals. Some of the big shots out of them also represent India at the International stage that made them one of the largest in India.
The event saw the launch of 512L and 545L side by side refrigerators as well as 6-9kg washing machines. Both of these categories are gaining much popularity in India. The disposable income of the Indian middle-class has been on a constant rise and that has reflected in the consumption pattern. This has allowed companies like TCL to launch a new line of products that are comparatively more expensive than their previous product lines.
Distribution Channel of TCL
TCL has carefully curated its distribution channel to support its growth strategy in India. TCL follows three channels to reach out to the Indian consumers. The primary one is the offline multi-brand outlets such as Tata’s Croma, Reliance Digital, Vijay Sales and so on. This allows them to reach almost 100% of the offline stores in India with over 5500 stores across the nation.
The second are the online platforms such as Flipkart and Amazon that appeals to even more people including the youth as they spend most of the time on their smartphones or laptops surfing through the web.
The third is the Brand Licensing Channel, which are brand showrooms that allow them to offer very high-quality services to the offline customers that purchase from these stores. Currently, they have 30 Brant Stores in 7 Indian cities selling TCL Home Appliances.
TCL has invested a lot on its marketing strategy in India and the world. The brand tries to learn the different cultural, social, corporate and economic values of a country or a region to execute its marketing strategy.
TCL’s Major Marketing Strategy
Sports marketing has been a major investment for TCL as they have focused on it in India and other growing markets for the brand. For example, the brand focused on Cricket, the most popular sport in India for its marketing. TCL sponsors DC, one of the 8 teams of the most popular sports leagues in the entire world, the Indian Premier League or IPL. Delhi Capitals are one of the popular teams of IPL with many international players with them and TCL’s engagement with DC has spiked their popularity across the nation.
Similarly, they have collaborated with teams from the Chinese Basketball Association as well as the Brazil National Football Team. Neymar Jr. is one of the world’s most popular athlete and one of the best football players in the world. He is the brand ambassador of TCL and this has helped the brand not only gain popularity but also build trust among the consumers as they relate the brand with their favourite sports stars. The strategy of sports marketing has reaped wonders for the brand.
TCL’s manufacturing in India
TCL has started manufacturing in India. The reason behind the move was to reduce cost as well as enhance its business integration. China had the cost advantage for the longest time in history but that has started changing with the rise of the economy that ultimately resulted in higher manufacturing costs in the country. TCL has set up an Industrial park in India for the manufacturing of a plethora of electronics ranging from large TV panels to small smartphone panels. The park is also one of TCL’s smart manufacturing facilities that are helping TCL realize its intelligent device manufacturing dreams in India and selling them all over the world.
TCL has a good future in India if it continues to follow the path that has led it till here. Numerous companies entered and exited the Indian market in a very short time but the brands that focused on the trust factor among the consumers served for long and TCL should strive for the same.