'Ingenuity, innovation, international expansion vital elements of our plans,' Director Sales, Dawlance
Dawlance is among the most well-known brands in the country and its jingle, "Dawlance: the name is enough" rings so true, that the company's senior management know they may just as easily launch other products and instantly receive a strong response from the domestic market.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2013
Talking to BR Research, Company's Director Sales Hasan Jameel stated that the company's dealers have often insisted it should launch itself into generators, uninterrupted power suppliers and other products that it does not currently market. There are even counterfeiters who use the Dawlance brand to sell products like mattresses, pillows and water dispensers; all products that the real Dawlance, does not manufacture or market.
But Jameel is adamant that the company will only function in segments where it has developed strong expertise, adding that "success lies in consistently assessing what consumers need and delivering it to them".
Ten months ago, when senior managers at Dawlance met with BR Research, they had stressed that the company has maintained leadership among leading categories of home appliances, by consistently assessing the needs and desires of existing and potential clients and delivering new solutions to cater to these. The same philosophy is behind its latest ingenuity; Double French Door refrigerators, which have been recently introduced in the domestic market.
"These refrigerators offer about 35-40 percent more capacity than conventional refrigerators that are currently selling in the domestic market. Since this model is pillar-less, consumers are able to better utilise the extra capacity," he explained. The DFD refrigerators are also equipped with special bottle racks and easy handles; all features based on feedback gathered by the company through research.
DOING THEIR HOMEWORK
"We conducted extensive research before the development and marketing of this product. Concept testing was undertaken with the help of two independent testing agencies; consumer surveys were conducted by the marketing team in four cities which presented its findings to the research team through an internal forum," Jameel explained.
He added that the company's teams interacted to convert the customer needs into product features. Simultaneously, Dawlance engaged an international company for the design of the DFD refrigerators. In all, this comprehensive exercise yielded a new product after efforts spanning over four years.
Concept testing for products within the home appliances segment, is quite different even when compared to automobile or cellular phone industries, explained Jameel. He asserted that while those industries can rely on customer feedback regarding dimensions, design and colour based on computer-generated concepts; the same cannot be relied upon in home appliances.
"The value proposition for refrigerators is heavily based on capacity, but the average consumer cannot comment on the adequacy of capacity of a potential product simply by browsing computer-generated images; they have to see the real product."
Although the Double French Door refrigerators were launched in the domestic market just a couple of weeks ago; Dawlance has been showing off this unique innovation at international forums for a few months now.
Last year in October, Dawlance became the first Pakistani home appliances company to exhibit its product range at the Canton Fair in China. "We displayed all our high-end products prominently at that fair, including the new DFD refrigerators, and also received a hefty number of inquiries from international buyers," he said. Dawlance has already penetrated markets in Central Asia and North Africa. Now it is gearing up to sell its products in markets as geographically distant as South America.
"Food preservation habits in that part of the world are very similar to ours and as a result, that market is lucrative for us without making any major changes to existing products," explained Jameel. Dawlance has been actively pursuing buyers in Iraq, Syria and other markets in the Middle East.
The Director Sales conceded that prospects in those markets have been dampened by ongoing political strife there, but insisted that local sales and exports to other markets will ensure that the company maintains a strong growth trajectory.
LOCAL BUYERS GAIN FROM GLOBAL EXPANSION
Hasan Jameel highlighted that many manufacturing and quality benchmarks that are only incorporated by premium brands in Pakistan, have become industry norms in other parts of the world. He also conceded that although Dawlance is a well-entrenched and respected brand in Pakistan, the company has its work cut out to build brand equity internationally.
"We already benchmark our products according to international standards and are actively working on further improving our offerings. All of the innovations and improvements that we are introducing are further augmenting the value proposition for buyers in the country," he asserted.
The company currently sells about 750,000 refrigerators each year. Thanks to the addition of new factory in Karachi, besides expansion in the two units in Hyderabad, its existing capacity towers over a million refrigerators, annually.
Refrigerators, freezers and washing machines are manufactured at various facilities within Pakistan. Components of split air conditioners and microwave ovens sold under the Dawlance label are imported, while the final products are assembled in the country. Besides these, certain models of split air conditioners and automatic washing machines are imported directly from manufacturers; mostly in China.
Keen to safeguard its technological edge, Dawlance has now secured patents for its H-Zone technology and easy handles that adorn newly launched refrigerator models. A few days back, the company has also launched another patented innovation; low-voltage start-up refrigerators (LVS). "Even if you are getting 135 volts through the power supply at home, your refrigerator will perform, making this an ideal product for parts of the country where voltage fluctuation issues are common".
UNFETTERED BY CHINA, UNMOVED BY AFGHANISTAN
Chinese home appliances flooded the domestic market back in 2004-05. "At that time, there was a plethora of brands that were selling everything from split air conditioners to microwave ovens. The low quality brands and manufacturers have been weeded out of the market since that time," he summed up.
Jameel pointed out that Dawlance itself sources some of its components and products from prominent manufacturers in China. "Our split air conditioners, microwaves and automatic washing machines are based on parts from some of the world's largest suppliers who also supply to the world's leading brands like Samsung, Hoover and General."
Chinese manufacturers are supplying products and components to a whole range of brands; from low-cost solution providers to the most well-reputed premium brands. "The difference is based on the material that goes into the manufacturing and that is where we emphasise on quality to maintain our edge," explained the Director Sales. Dawlance has put in place a comprehensive testing procedure whereby products and components imported from various vendors are tested before approving the procurement by this company.
Responding to a question regarding the company's prospects in Afghanistan, Jameel complained about a lack of infrastructure and organised procedures. "Just consider their local television channels; if you wish to advertise with them, the tariffs charged are difficult to decipher and not based on any market research." He acknowledged that demand for home appliances in Afghanistan is booming, but pointed to hurdles such as rampant smuggling, lack of dealership and promotion channels and dispersed markets.