Consistency – Key To Our Victory – Singer DM
By Anjali Caldera
Singer (Sri Lanka) PLC. being a trusted brand for local consumers with its diversified product portfolio was able to bag the People’s Brand of the Year 2021 for the 15th consecutive year at the recently concluded SLIM Brand Excellence Awards 2021.
The Sri Lanka Institute of Marketing (SLIM) and Nielsen Sri Lanka – one of the largest information and research companies in the world which provides market research expertise conduct this event annually. The public acts as the panel of judges here and are able to rate their favourite brands, personalities, advertisements, films, tele-dramas etc.
Singer Director Marketing, Shanil Perera spoke to Ceylon Today to share his thoughts on this achievement. Below are excerpts of the interview.
Singer clinched three Awards at the recently concluded SLIM People’s Awards 2021. What are the three Awards?
A: We won the People’s Brand of the Year 2021 and the People’s Durables Brand of the Year 2021 for the 15th consecutive year.
We were also crowned as the People’s Youth Choice Brand of the Year 2021, which was the third Award.
The latter Award, Singer was able to reclaim after three years. We last won it in 2016. Thus, we consider this as a great achievement to win the hearts of Sri Lankan youth once again.
Well, what are the major reasons behind these three achievements?
A: It’s all about Singer’s consistency; especially when it comes to the pinnacle Award, which is the People’s Brand of the Year and also People’s Durables Brand of the Year.
The trust people placed in Singer, despite the global pandemic of COVID-19 enabled Singer to clinch these three Awards. Also, the company’s ability to be consistent even during this new normal, post COVID-19 is the main reason behind winning these Awards.
Besides, our renewed marketing strategy led us to win the hearts of Sri Lankan youth, leading us to gain the People’s Youth Choice Brand of the Year, this year.
You spoke about Singer’s renewed marketing strategy; what lies behind this strategy?
A: One aspect is, it is necessary to have products interesting to youth. Thus, with the surge in the demand for laptops and mobile phones during COVID lockdowns and, as well as during this new normal; in a society where every task is being converted to an online task or converted to a task that could be digitally operated; Singer managed to cater to the needs of that market.
You know, the ‘Working from home’ and ‘Learning from Home’ concepts are rooted in our society now. Even the local education system got digitised, when schools and universities started conducting lessons through Zoom, Microsoft teams etc. Singer was able to cater to these requirement with our laptops, tabs and mobile phones.
On the other hand, from the communication or promotional point of view, Singer followed digital marketing aiming at youth.
How long have you been with Singer and during your service period what are the other key achievements of Singer?
A: I joined Singer in November 2019, now it’s almost close to one-and-a- half years.
However, these Awards are actually a result of team effort. The inclusive working culture which is maintained by Singer staff, internally by the sales and marketing team and supported by the other divisions, supports in every sphere to fulfil our vision and mission.
Furthermore, other than the SLIM People’s Awards, Singer was also able to bag two more Awards recently; the Retail Brand of the Year by Global Banking and Finance last year and also the SLIM Resilience Gold Award for being able to sustain during the crisis times of COVID-19 which affected global business communities.
How about market expansion of Singer Sri Lanka and how the pandemic affected these achievements?
A: We have 430 plus outlets and 300-400 distribution points. Its’ through these points of contact with the consumer, the sales team does a vital service to provide a better customer service.
Hence, while the marketing team uses marketing strategies and communication strategies to build that demand, the company sales outlets provided that experience to our consumers which is very important.
You mentioned, Singer also won the Gold award for the Best Resilient Company (Large category) in the face of COVID. How did you overcome the business challenges amidst COVID-19 in Sri Lanka?
A: With the global pandemic of COVID, initially everyone thought the consumer durable industry would be the first to be hit. We had certain restrictions as well; especially with regard to imports.
We managed to overcome those limitations as almost 40 per cent of our production takes place within the country. Our refrigerators and washing machines are manufactured locally. Also the furniture, sewing machines, water pumps are manufactured locally. Hence, with these three facilities being manufactured locally; import restrictions did not significantly affect us.
Secondly, certain categories outperformed others during the COVID-19 pandemic; especially laptops, mobiles and kitchen appliances demand hiked. Thus, we had to ensure that stocks were available to consumers. Meanwhile, understanding the financial difficulties that our consumers underwent during the pandemic, we leveraged on our payment schemes, to pay on a monthly scheme without the necessity of a credit card.
Besides, these products proved to be certainly essential during and post COVID-19.
Laptops and mobile phones are not local productions; so how did you manage the supply and demand process?
A: Well, import restrictions are based on credit terms; for mobile phones and laptops it ranges from 90 – 180 days. Hence, it was a challenge.
However, due to the good relationship and trust we had with our suppliers and global partners we managed to get their instant agreement to the terms and didn’t have a delay in line with the said products under the Government’s guidelines on imports. Additionally, Singer had the ability to adjust fast with the situation and this allowed us to manage the supply and demand process.
Further, the complete ban on furniture did not have an impact due to our fully functional furniture manufacturing facility in Piliyandala to cater to the existing demand.
Singer is one of the largest business conglomerates in Sri Lanka. What is Singer’s biggest market share or what is Singer’s potential for market expansion?
A: Singer leads certain consumer categories in Sri Lanka; refrigerators, televisions, washing machines, deep freezers, and laptops where we are number one. With other categories, we are a close no two. This is partly due to our convenient accessibility and reaches across the island and wide portfolio of products; over 50 brands, 600 electronic items and 1,200 home appliances.
Besides, Singer has immense potential in its local manufacturing of refrigerators and washing machines. REGNIS, a subsidiary company, manufactures refrigerators and washing machines too.
Though laptops and mobiles are imported products, we still have much more potential to grow with those as well. Hence, Singer attempts to constantly provide the latest and most innovative products to its consumers.
According to you what is Singers unique selling proposition (USP) which differentiates Singer from other conglomerates in Sri Lanka?
A: The brand equity of ‘Singer’ is the main difference. Singer has been in Sri Lanka for the last 140 years and as a ‘heritage brand’ in the country; it is widely known and has an edge over the rest.
But, we are constantly aware that the market place is changing and consumers are evolving and we will be irrelevant if we do not evolve as a brand.
Our loyal customers will always be there but what about the next generation. That’s why we are evolving as a company and have renewed our marketing strategies. We have further to go and will continue to elevate ourselves and leverage on the strong heritage that the brand has.
We are already looking to the future, further differentiating our product portfolio; and striving to offer a superior customer service, after sales service, communication through digital mediums etc. Various projects are currently taking place in this regard.
Specifically, elevating our after sales service is one of our key strategies. There is a huge focus to improve this going forward. We even recently launched a ‘Service Care App’ to cater to consumers after sales needs more efficiently.
What are Singer’s plans for sustainable development of the economy?
A: We have several strategies on sustainability. One such is managing our e-waste which we dispose responsibly through our partners who get rid of the e- waste in an environmentally friendly manner.