Sony has been at the forefront of personal audio space and the Covid-induced lockdown has certainly pushed this segment forward in over a year. T3 caught up with Gyanendra Singh, Head of Audio Business, Sony India, on the sidelines of World Music Day.
The extended lockdown has largely confined everyone to their homes. Apart from OTT platforms and gaming, music is something that keeps people engaged and helps maintain their sanity. What are the major trends experienced by Sony’s audio division during this lockdown period?
During this lockdown as well, we are witnessing a surge in both Personal Audio products like earphones and headphones and the home entertainment products like the Soundbars. We are experiencing that consumers are moving towards products with features that are helpful for their work from home, learn from home activities and products that enhance their consumption of entertainment at home. The demand upsurge is like what we experienced during the last year unlock.
Could you elaborate on some of the products that drove the maximum business during this time? What are the buying trends that emerged during this lockdown phase?
While there continues to be an overall good traction for both personal audio and home entertainment products, for personal audio products, in terms of form factor, the truly wireless segment and the headphones with Active Noise Cancellation are showing very strong demand. We continue to have very good traction for our flagship 1000X series in headphones and truly wireless earbuds form factor, followed by affordable Bluetooth headphones WI-C200, WI-XB400 & WH-CH510. On the home entertainment front, the consumer is displaying the desire to upgrade his home audio-video environment. Consequently, there is demand for soundbars to enjoy cinematic audio experience at home for flagship products with Dolby Atmos like HT-Z9F and HT-G700, followed by affordable range models like HT-RT3 and HT-RT40.
With service centres and other points of service shut, how did you manage to connect with customers?
Since the beginning of lockdown, Sony has been actively supporting consumers via e-mails and live chat to ensure uninterrupted entertainment. 24×7 assistance is being offered to customers through AI-assisted Chat Bot. Our Call Center (1800 103 7799) was operational and our customer service executives were available for resolving customer queries by offering Remote assistance through DIY videos and video calls. We also offered special Warranty extension for customers whose product warranty lapsed during the lockdown period.
What were the major learnings from the extended lockdown period for Sony in the audio space? How has it changed the way you did business? How do you look forward to the post-Covid and post-lockdown scenario?
There are multiple factors that have evolved due to this extended lockdown phenomenon. Firstly, the usage of audio products has increased whether it is for work from home (WFH), learn from home (LFH) or home entertainment. It has given consumer a greater opportunity to experience the product and enjoy its features. Secondly, for many consumers this has led to a situation of higher disposable income and hence consumer spending on premium audio products has increased and we expect this to continue in the post-lockdown scenario as well. Lastly, it has increased the use of online as a medium of communication for both our consumers and for us as well. Consumer traffic has significantly increased to Sony India’s website and to our products on other e-commerce portals. Consequently, our modes of reaching out to the consumer has also seen a greater shift towards the online medium and we expect this to continue.