US-based audio brand Skullcandy is betting big on its truly wireless product category to grow aggressively in India, says Amlan Bhattacharjya, founder and CEO of Brand Eyes, the official distributor of the brand in India. With smartphone sales going up and so does consumption of content on streaming apps such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, Skullcandy believes 2020 will see a whole new way of consuming audio. Excerpts:
How is the Indian market different from the rest?
For Skullcandy, India is one of the top five markets globally. In the personal audio space, the company has been witnessing about 20 per cent year-on-year growth since its foray into the market in 2008. We believe the market is huge and we are always in discussion with our research team to figure out what the Indian market needs, so that we can align ourselves with changing trends and requirements of the consumers. Currently, we are focused on two things: wireless headphones and active noise cancellation, as this combination is set to dominate the audio market in the days to come.
Has the ongoing economic slowdown affected you?
I would like to break it down into two parts. First, there were definitely some negative sentiments in the market that we felt in our discussions with retailers and buyers over the last few months. On a transaction level, however, there’s been absolutely no sync between the negativity of those conversations. Like any other business, we keep a room for 5 per cent standard deviation. That apart, there have been no surprises at all. Even the festive season, i.e, the October-December period, which account for nearly 40 per cent of our overall sales, has been robust so far this year. We may even cross the 40 per cent-mark by end of December..
What are your expansion plans?
We are focused on penetrating deeper into tier-2 cities and beyond to get more and more engaged with our customers. By the end of this fiscal, we plan to enter at least 15-20 such locations. We also have four exclusive stores in NCR region, but we plan to be present in all top five metros over the next few years. Meanwhile, we also see a lot of engagement in our website despite the fact that we believe in offering deep discounts. With smartphone sales going up and so does consumption of content on streaming apps such as Netflix and others, we believe demand for quality audio accessories will only be growing and across all channels.
Truly wireless products seem to be the new trend. Your thoughts?
Truly wireless products are just about two-year-old now globally. Apart from Apple, most brands are struggling to figure out how to get the pricing right, the audio quality right without compromising on overall quality. Even though we are a late entrant in the market, today we see a lot of traction. Of the three products we have in the truly wireless category — Sesh, Push and Indy — Sesh is the first-of-its-kind in terms of pricing (at Rs 5,999) and has been widely accepted by consumers. In fact, we have now been struggling to meet the demand. Buoyed by the success, we plan to launch two more products in the truly wireless segment in 2020.