Belkin International, headquartered in USA, has offices in over 20 countries (including India) spread across several continents. Belkin International has three brands – Belkin, Linksys and WeMo – to take technology to the people. Belkin mobile accessories are renowned for their simplicity and ease-of-use, while the Linksys products help to take the wireless connectivity mainstream around the globe. Their new brand, WeMo, provides customizable smart home platform that enable users to monitor, measure and manage their electronics, appliances and lighting at home and also on-the-go Kartik Bakshi, Country Manager-India & SAARC, Belkin India Pvt. Ltd., who is in-charge of Belkin and Lynksis brands, shares their brand strategy, market plans, mission and vision.
Regarding restructuring and reviving the brands and the market strategy, Kartik Bakshi, Country Manager-India & SAARC, Belkin India Pvt. Ltd. shares, “As the Country Head, I am in-charge of Belkin (for Mobile accessories) and Linksys (for networking products) brands. When I joined the company in 2013, there were a lot of issues like inventory-related shortcomings, partners were not willing to entertain our brand and do not want to stock our products. I realized the need to restructure the channel policy and market strategy. During 2013-16, we rebuilt Belkin as a brand that stands for good quality products with strong and attractive packaging. To have a share in the Indian market we need have good price, besides decent quality, so we made a lot of changes in our pricing policy – decreased the prices of certain cables to suit the price-sensitive Indian conditions, while retaining the good quality. After we set our things and standards right, we started selling 1000s of cables each month. We had to rebuild our image from the bottom. But now the market is very receptive towards our brand. The one advantage we have is we closely work with our manufacturers in China to bring out what we exactly need within minimum time lags. You can find our wireless charging pads almost at all important apple stores and LFRs. Our products are reasonably priced, give good experience and have good quality. We also focus on the changing preferences and needs of the customers and redesign and adapt our products accordingly. We want to grow in steps parallelly building confidence in partners and winning the customer satisfaction. We are also doing regular promotion events to expand our reach.”
Since restructuring, the mission of Belkin has been to create and provide mobile accessories that help people realize the power of technology and enable them to lead lives better, easier and more fulfilling. Belkin’s products include cables, adaptors, wireless chargers & wireless charging pads, power banks, car chargers, multiple chargers, lightning chargers, screen protectors and more.
Elaborating on their product and market strategy, Bakshi adds, “First, our strategy for Belkin is to focus on a few core mobile accessories which should bring us 80% of our revenue, then the rest 20% will be contributed by several other products. This strategy will help us to establish our brand identity and products. Currently our core focus will be on providing charging cables; Type C and car chargers; and screen-protectors. Screen-protectors are an important segment for us. Initially, we started providing screen-protectors for Apple iPhones through retailers and later we approached retail chains like Chroma, Reliance, etc. Now we are a provider of screen-protectors on a global scale. We also developed screen-protector fitting devices which help to fit the screen-protectors more accurately at higher speed and greater ease and we installed those devices at select retail stores. We decided to design and install these screen-protector fitting devices after we realized that 3 out 10 screen-protectors get wasted because the person who manually fits the screen-protectors at the retail store could not fit the screen-protectors well and the screen-protectors go waste and the customers refuse to pay. After we started installing screen-protector fitting devices at the retail stores, the failure rates dropped drastically, which brought comfort to both the fitter and the customer—helping the fitter to save money and the customer to have a pleasant experience. That way our brand image also improved.”
Belkin International has purchased Linksys brand from Cisco, the global leader in providing networking products. Linksys provides networking routers and the related products, which are designed after thorough R&D and testing and they outperformed the products of several other brands in terms of speed and performance when comparative testing was done.
Talking about their Linksys brand, Bakshi explains, “Linksys is doing very well doing and has evolved into a beloved brand in the market. Since launching, we have sold over Rs 10 Cr worth of Linksys devices globally. After we bought Linksys from Cisco, we bought all their products under that product-line as per the agreement. Later we did a lot of redesigning, restyling and improvisation in the devices. We want Linksys to evolve into a brand with a unique image. Today, the industries such as hospitality, offices, hospitals, enterprises, etc all need efficient internet connecting networking products. Linksys provides networking products that deliver as they promise.”
Briefing about their channel strategy, Bakshi reveals, “Coming to our channel strategy, we are into all the three distribution segments – online, retail segment and the general offline channel. The advantage the online channel has is, a customer can purchase easily by seeing the product images and reading features online. To drive our online channel, we are also investing in digital marketing, promotion through social media, etc. Online has evolved into a potential channel for mobile accessories due to its convenience and the ease to reach thru smartphones. Coming to promotion through retail network, we want to give a superior customer experience thru effective presentations, demos, eye-catchy display of products, etc. While promoting via offline channel, we follow a balanced approach between online and offline while pricing our products. Our offline wing will be important part of our channel strategy and we will continue to expand on this front. While targeting the B2B market, offline channel is the preferred one. Routers still sell more via the traditional offline channel, because of the support and service related requirements. Depending upon the product and target market, we keep redefining our channel strategy and keep changing with the varying needs of the customers.”
Talking about their manufacturing strategy, Bakshi briefs, “We had our own manufacturing plant in China, which now migrated to Foxconn, a leading ODM. We work closely with Foxconn and they will provide us products according to our brand specifications regarding quality, features, etc. We plan to gradually shift our manufacturing to India starting in the year 2021 in stages. First we want to focus on bringing some chosen products to the Indian market that can help us create strong image for our brands, instead of trying to push in many products in one time.”
Talking about the motivation Belkin International provides to the company executives and their future plans, Bakshi briefs, “My immediate senior at Belkin is a lady who is GM and VP–Asia and she is very understanding, cooperating and inspiring. She understands our strategies and principles very well and the need to be flexible. With such a supportive management, we are able to take quick decisions, make timely changes to our product policy and adapt to changing market conditions, to provide the best products and to reach the market fast. Belkin International is targeting a double-digit annual growth and we have been maintaining this growth and will continue to maintain. We are going to expand our Belkin mobile accessories product portfolio in a big way in the next two years. Indian mobile accessories space is a very big market that offers a lot of scope for those who provide products that deliver. We have set high goals and we want to cut a good market share in the coming years. We also want to expand our Linksys reach and our target is to triple or quadruple our sales of Linksys products in the next 3 years.”