‘By January 2019, we are aiming to launch new products targeting the laser segment’

Satyajeet Satpathy

In the past few years, the printer industry has witnessed many major changes. Satyajeet Satpathy, Director of Inkjet Printers, SIDM & POS, Epson India, in an interaction with CRN’S, Rachana Jha, speaks about the emerging trends in the industry and Epson’s successful marketing strategy

Can you describe the current trends in the printer industry? What are your views  regarding the future evolution of the market ?

Earlier the trend was more towards business printing and office printing, but of late we are seeing a growing trend in the home printing segment. The technologies are again into different categories: Inkjet, dot matrix and signage. Dot matrix is for enterprise business and inkjet is the printing solution for homes. We have created an awareness among the masses since the time we have launched Ink tank printers in 2011. Since then, there has been a drastic shift, specially in the home printing solution as well as office. Offices using dot matrix have also shifted to Ink tank printers as it helps to reduce cost and is consumer friendly. The volume of printing is higher, and in terms of saving, its helps to save a lot of money and space also.

Coming back to home solutions, it caters to a major chunk of the business, which is around 80 per cent. We only had 17-18 per cent penetration with our Inkjet printers and now we have gone upto 25 per cent and still a major focus is home. It’s a slow process and there needs to be a change in perception. Epson is trying to penetrate deep into the masses and educate them about the new process. Today we are offering the lowest cost per print in the market, which is just 7 paisa for b/w and 18 paisa for colour. Slowly, the awareness is sinking in, specially among school going kids, college goers, etc. This is the entire shift in printing which is taking time but it’s on the right path.

What kind of growth is the company witnessing in  India?

Epson experiences a growth of 20 per cent annually and we have been successfully achieving our target, year after year, by even going up to the extent of exceeding the 20 per cent rate. Slowly, we will see that we go beyond as the printing industry is growing and is not experiencing saturation. If we talk about inkjet printing, we are seeing growth of around 48 per cent in terms of volume and better market share.

Do you see any difference in terms of printers in the Indian market and that outside of it ?

When we are comparing India with the global market, we see that India is still growing at a rate of 8.2 per cent and it’s an emerging market. In Q2 end result, we are at number 1, which means we have grown at a rate of 55 per cent GDP, which is an exception. People are focused on Indian market, still it’s an emerging market and will take time to come at par with outside market.  The buying power is better outside India, and the country is still struggling with its disparities in income ratio and class division.

What challenges do you face in the Indian printer industry?

The printing industry keeps on changing every now and then. When we talk about innovative products we had small printers catering to offices and also the home segment. Then we transformed into the mid segment and eventually into the high printing segment. Every now and then we keep on getting innovative products, according to the demands and needs. We are very much geared up to take care of the new innovations which will cater to the market need.

The market is changing very rapidly, consequently how do you revisit your strategy to capture it?

We have divided the entire geography into three parts: Metros, mini metro and sub country. In metros the people are well aware about Epson and there is a trust value. Social media is helping us play a very important role in metros and mini metros. The main challenge is making the sub country people aware about Epson products and solutions. We are still struggling to reach out to those people and are trying to reframe our structure. Our major focus now is to reach out to these people by various activities like road shows and other interactive activities. We even target the tourist locations in these regions. We have exclusive printers for these segments as well and are trying to create awareness to get in touch with the target consumers. We are also targeting the channel partner through the same activities.

What is your strategy for small business enterprises?

It’s not necessary that companies have to be big. We just need to cater to their requirement. Talking about challenges, we are facing the same in the home segment as well. The initial cost is high but over a period of time it will benefit the target group. The SME segment can have a single printer connected via LAN with small work groups. As long as they are being benefited over the running cost over a period of time and the awareness has been created, we have done our job right.

How is your engagement with the partners in India?

We keep on meeting and communicating with the partners on a regular basis and keep them updated on the new innovations and our technologies. It’s a continuous interaction with all the partners associated with us. We have close to 200 partners at the Tier I position, this association has been for more than 20 years and hence, 90 per cent partners are the same with us. This helps us to boast our engagement and up our business.

What kind of programs do you have for  your partners? 

Every year we have a program for our partners and every November we have the concept of having a review with them. This has been a ritual for the past 15 years and we keep having activities to have an ongoing interaction with them. We also have small trips with them. It’s a process which we will keep on doing as it helps us engage with them.

There are so many players in the market, how do you differentiate Epson from them?

There are four top players and we are the best of the lot.  We are the pioneer in introducing Ink tank printer at a time no one had thought about it. Japan is known for its innovation. The transition took some time but we emerged as the top player.

Which verticals does Epson cater to?

Our major focus is on the home segment followed by office printing and also government printing. We are presently in all categories, but home segment still remains to be the number one.

How do you perceive the conversion in the market?

We are facing challenges when we talk about inkjet or a conversion from laser to inkjet. A major focus is now to get attention on a inkjet. We are targeting a market share of close to around 12 per cent soon. As of now we are with the market share of 9 per cent and very soon we will enhance ourself. It’s not an overnight job and we are doing loads of activities, engaging with consumers and seeking their trust. For corporates also it takes a lot of time and activities.

If we talk in terms of turnover and targets, how much you have achieved?

Last year we were around INR 1600 crores and we normally target 20 per cent every year. This year we are targeting around INR 200 crores. We will be following the same trend year after year.

Any upcoming product or development that you would like to mention?

We launched five new integrated InkTank printers few months back. These printers cater to the home and offices segment. By January 2019, we are aiming to launch new products targeting the laser segment.

Where do you see Epson five years down the line? What is your plan for the channel segment?

The market is growing rapidly and we are also aiming for 20 per cent growth. Therefore, we are in line with the market. With our innovative products, we want to see Epson in all homes.  That is our idea.

We keep having the engagement activities and we are trying to boost our sales via the retail segment also. We are focusing on retail outlets across the country, who will take care of walk-in consumers. This will increase sales and build more trust in the brand.