“The Syska Group, whose founders ran distribution for brands like Nokia and Samsung in the past, started off with its own brand Syska LED a decade ago. Now with several products in its portfolio contributing almost half its revenue, the equity of brand Syska is being leveraged,” explains Amit Sethiya, Head – Marketing, Syska Group.
The Indian LED lighting market is said to have hit US$ 2.8 bn in 2021. What is the market share of Syska?
As a category, FMEG has come a long way. When CFL came into the market it took some eight to 10 years to establish itself over traditional filament lighting products. LED as a technology is doing a fabulous job now of slowly and gradually replacing CFL. It is far more affordable in the long term thanks to power saving. It has far more applications.
Syska is among the top three brands in LED. In a short period of time, it has a market share of 15 to 20pc.
Apart from the lighting solutions, Syska has also ventured into personal care, accessories, home appliances, wires & cables. How is each category faring for the brand?
Syska has established its equity in the market as a homegrown brand. People have accepted the fact that as a brand we are offering them quality products at affordable prices. It is imperative that when you establish yourself the right way, you try to extend the equity of the brand into other categories.
Syska has always explored lateral expansion from the early days. We ventured into personal care products in 2017, we entered wires and cables in 2018. In 2020 when we were just coming out of the first wave of Covid, we ventured into fans. We launched smartwatches as well.
This strategy of getting into ancillary categories has helped the brand to ensure that we are talking to a larger consumer base. We are able to increase the brand’s share per household and talk to a variety of consumers.
The portfolio is loaded with 30 to 50 products. There is a huge variety for the consumers to choose from. The point is when you are entering the category you are doing so with full force – so that when the customers start talking to you, you have a portfolio of solutions for them to pick from for their requirements.
Do lighting solutions remain the major contributor to sales for Syska? What is the contribution of these categories to the overall sales?
We are known for LED products because that’s the flagship. More than 50pc is from Syska LED. The new entrants are now reaching double digits (within the group). This has happened within a short period of time and that speaks volumes about how seriously we want to take this journey ahead.
What are the geographies that contribute to the major sales of the brand? Can you throw some light on the performance of the brand in metros versus Tier 2, 3 cities and towns?
Syska, by the very nature of its business and product portfolio, is catering to the entire country. Today everybody wants lighting products and solutions, whether you are a retail customer or a corporate customer or someone handling infra or outdoor projects. The applications are so huge that and more importantly they are need-based – it is no more an indulgence that you are buying an LED product, it’s a core need.
We are very much present in the entire country with the help of a very extensive and intensive distribution network. We have more than 2,000 distributors and more than 2.5 lakh retailers who are helping the brand to reach the end-consumer seamlessly.
Categories like LED, fans, wires and cables are need-based. At the same time we have younger categories like personal care, mobile accessories and smart home products. In these categories we are talking to evolved customers and hence typically you are looking at consumers from metros. But basis the availability of the products on our D2C platform or with our ecom partners, today even consumers from Tier 2 and Tier 3 can easily buy them. They also have the aspiration to experience these products which are kind of indulgent – like a smartwatch or a high-end trimmer. Today not only are they aware and have the aspiration, more than that they can go out and buy these products. So even the demand from Tier 2 and Tier 3 is going north.
You onboarded Rajkummar Rao as brand ambassador in 2020 with an aim to leverage the actor’s strong connect with urban audiences, as well as with those from Tier 2 and 3 markets. How do you assess it in 2022? The brand also engaged Irffan earlier. Was that also for universal appeal?
Rajkummar Rao was the face of Syska brand in 2020 because we very unfortunately (and untimely) lost Irrfan Khan, who was representing the brand to all Indians for a very long time. It was synonymous that Syska=LED=savings=Irrfan Khan. Whichever dots you want to join from whichever direction, people were very much happy with that equation. Irrfan Khan was extremely talented, very home-grown, a personality who had achieved various milestones on merit and that’s what typically represents the brand, Syska.
Irrfan, as a performer as a person, was incredible. He established himself over a period of time as a fabulous entertainer. He not only did cinema which was appealing to classes but masses as well. In fact he was in a position to go and give some impressive performances even in Hollywood. He was in that sense an international star. We were always happy and lucky to have him onboard because within the category Syska and Irrfan’s association was the longest.
It was very important to have someone talk about energy conservation for a long time because it takes time to change habits. As brand Syska, if you see minutely you will find that ‘saving’ was at the core of all campaigns because it is a concept which Indian consumers connect very easily and organically with. That’s how we are wired internally. That is what struck a chord with consumers. Irrfan put this message out using humour with a straight face.
We are very much committed towards looking at brand ambassadors who are a reflection of the brand. The brand persona was very much fitting with Rajkummar and hence we onboarded him to continue the conversation with Indian consumers. He too has a very unique appeal and fan following amongst classes and masses. Syska wants to be known as everybody’s brand for every need and hence Rajkummar is a perfect fit. His performances resonate with every Indian consumer.
Can you brief us about the marketing / ad plans and the media mix? What are the campaigns in the pipeline?
With Rajkummar Rao as the face of the brand, we launched a campaign for LED lighting in 2020. This year we launched a campaign for Syska Fans featuring him and in 2023 also you will see campaigns for LED and fans. We are growing stronger together and Rajkummar is doing a fab job.
Syska is probably the only brand within the FMEG category which has been talking to all Indian consumers almost 24/7, 365 days. That has managed to bring the very friendly equation between the brand and the retail consumer because then people know the brand. This strategy of creating visibility consistently will continue.
We have primarily used TV as a medium to build the brand. Syska ads have been on television for the last five to seven years; on news, GECs. We do a lot of brand integration and co-branded activities. Bollywood is another aspect of connecting with masses and we have been active in using that route. All those elements will continue.
Because we are now also talking to younger audiences, millennials who are primarily also consuming a lot of digital, the brand is present in that space as well. We are connecting with and befriending younger consumers for the new age solutions, be it grooming solutions, smart home products, audio solutions, wearables, durables and so on.
What is the share of media spend on digital and how has this changed over the years?
It was common to have conversations on ATL (mass media), BTL (trade and retail marketing) and digital, with marketers sticking to the 70-20-10 rule. Over the last three to five years this rule has gradually changed. While we are engaged heavily on TV, it’s important to be more agile in terms of which media is responding, whether it is digital, retail or something else. While we need to continue talking to our audiences on television because that’s our primary medium, we also need to look at what kind of propositions we are offering to various new buckets of customers as they are consuming a lot more digital today.
We are present on e-com so you need to create awareness about it. We have our own D2C platforms so we need to create propositions for that as well. As a brand Syska is very much out there in terms of social media, digital media, online campaigns etc.
How big is e-com for the lighting category and for Syska?
Today people are looking at this category of lighting solutions beyond basic needs. It has become a part of the décor. You have LED lighting products in various shapes, sizes, profiles, textures, colour outputs and so on. So people are going online, researching and understanding. Because of these reasons the adoption of LED lighting products in the e-com space has also increased.
People are today giving a serious thought about which light to buy and where it should be placed because now they are far more engaged with this category. E-com has grown not only for the LED category but for the entire Syska group as well. It was earlier single digit but now it’s definitely in double digits.
There was news about lighting solutions being sought out as people worked from home. How was that phase?
As consumers we all graduate slowly towards better options, better technology, better performance etc. But Covid accelerated the adoption towards the enhanced version of LED technology. People were working from home, spending a lot more time within four walls with their families. This gave a reason to buy a more enhanced version of LED technology. These products are basically operated with the help of an app and voice assistant.
Today, a Syska Smart LED bulb gives 16mn colors. That’s a huge number of colour options. Imagine everyday is going to be a new day, a new experience or a new mood that you can create with the help of that one single bulb within your home. It was able to elevate the mood and experience of these consumers while they were dealing with the Covid situation. That’s where the increased demand from 2020 came in. Today there are a lot more conversations happening about smart products and obviously for a reason. People look at a lot of contactless shopping, delivery, payments, so why not contactless lighting?
Does Syska have exclusive stores to deliver the brand experience? What is the footprint?
Within FMEG, Syska is the pioneer in establishing exclusive brand outlets (EBOs) branded ‘Syska LED Lounge’. These lounges were established keeping in mind the primary objective of educating the customer.
It is imperative for the brand to take the onus of creating the right experience. When you walk into an Syska LED Lounge you will realise the beauty and potential of the technology. It can transform your house or your space completely. That was the primary objective of establishing exclusive brand outlets.
It has helped the brand have a stronger and firmer conversation with users. Because Syska is also present across various ancillary categories we have changed the brand name from Syska LED Lounge to Syska Lounge now. It’s a win-win situation not only for the brand and franchisee partners but also for consumers.
We currently have more than 50 exclusive brand outlets in the country and the number will go higher in the next two to three years.