Interview with Mr. C Sukumaran, Assistant Director, Consumer System Products, Canon India

Canon’s CSP division, comprising of two categories namely Inkjet and Laser offers customized innovative solutions, sees a continuous demand from customers across both the segments. Celebrating 20 successful years of its operations in India, Canon under its CSP division commenced a 50 city roadshow, across the country, starting with Guwahati recently.  IT Northeast Compuvar meets up with Mr. C Sukumaran, Assistant Director, Consumer System Products, Canon India, for a candid conversation.

How does the printing market look like and how is Canon doing in this domain? What kind of business growth are you witnessing as of now?
The Indian printing industry has undergone many revolutionary changes over a past couple of years. It is seeing significant transformations with new technologies and applications that provide cost-effective and customized solutions. The industry has grown drastically due to the latest technology and machinery, quality standards and production capacities. From the heavy machinery using industry to a more software-centric business, the printing industry in India is gradually progressing.
Increasing adaptation of multi enabled features have resulted in rising awareness for Multi-Function printers (MFP’s) in the country. Additionally, growing internet penetration and rise in the usage of digital content has attracted consumers to target more reliable and cost effective printing solutions. The overall printing business is shaping up positively and market for both Inkjet and Laser products is growing at a good pace, owing to the evolving customer needs. At Canon, we cater to the printing needs of our customers across segments. Our range of inkjet printers are recognized for their integrated ink-tank, cloud connectivity and attractive designs. Our Laser portfolio includes robust and fast machines, catering to the printing demands of the professional environment, like the Enterprise, Government and BFSI segment. We are witnessing a double digit growth in both the segments. With the increasing support of our resellers and distributors, we envision to further strengthen our outreach by connecting with the farthest geographies in the country.

What according to you are the key factors contributing to the changing consumption pattern of consumers?
There are several factors contributing to the changing consumption patterns that we foresee. Some of them are-

Product Expectation: Customers have started looking at the Return on Investment from the products they purchase. Earlier the customers used to walk into a store and check the price of the printer and buy it, whereas now they look at a lot of aspects, inclusive of the cost of the printer, running cost, print volume, design etc. and then make their buying decision.

Easy Availability: Customers can buy their products from multiple platforms including, large format retails outlets, E commerce, TV shopping and IT Retail stores. This provides them increased convenience, avoiding the coordination of logistics.
Connectivity: Connecting technology, WIFI Printing has been the new added feature for all the home segment printers.

Cost of print:
The technological advancements have made the cost of prints much affordable. More and more customers now can afford color printers.
At Canon, we ensure our presence across all platforms, that our customers would consider. With our wide range of products, we cover all specific requirements of our customers. With our large partner base and excellent after sale services, we are committed at delivering delight to our customers.

What are the major growth opportunities you can see that Canon can leverage on through its products or solutions etc?
At Canon, our focus is to deliver a complete solution portfolio that is a combination of hardware and software together, to deliver convenience and accountability. Consumers have specific needs and they need a customized solution to help them manage their print workflows. As we have witnessed the buying behavior of the customer has been evolving, we have constantly made efforts and innovated our services to reach our customer through every buying platform. We have launched an array of products for home consumers that have the best in class design and the latest features. For example, we were the first to introduce printers in various color options in India. All our wireless printers are cloud print enabled.Another example is that of ‘Express Cartridge Delivery’; consumers now have started buying ink cartridge over a Call, to cater to this demand, customers can contact us through customer helpline number and the products are then delivered at their door step. This rings both convenient availability and timely obtainability for our customers.

How important is the small and mid range industrial printing segment for Canon ?
Over the years, we have made a strong foothold in the industry by venturing into new domains, expanding our product portfolio and catering to a wide base of customers. We have been offering unparalleled technology through our wide product portfolio to all home users, SOHOs, business entities like large enterprises and SMEs. Our aim has been to aggressively penetrate deeper into the Indian market, especially the small and mid-range segments and to increase our share of voice as well. We have always been committed to introduce innovative and cutting edge technology to our consumers and we will continue to do so in the coming years as well. We work cohesively towards providing value offerings to our customers which helps them in increasing their productivity.

Multi Function Printers are regarded as the easiest prey for hackers to break into an organizations network. What are Canon’s efforts in developing products and technology to provide secure printing to their customers.

Enterprise and the Government segment is definitely more concerned about security than the home users. Consumers buying Multi-functional printers seek more information on the printer’s security. At Canon, high level of security against any malware affects is maintained and this is followed as a continuous process.

What motivates Canon to “innovate” when the printing market is showing little global and National growth?
We are known across the world for our innovation and in our organization we are instilled the value of continuing to learn and grow. This year, we have completed a journey of 20 glorious years in the country. Over the last two decades, our products have been evolving as per the needs of our customers.  Maintaining our stance of leadership and innovation, we organize constant research to understand the market, on the basis of which interesting products are conceptualized, designed and created.  In the printing segment, we have noticed that the consumers are adapting different channels for making their purchases, therefore, we ensure our presence across all the platforms. We have over the years extended and strengthened our outreach among platforms, including exclusive stores, large format retails outlets, E commerce, TV shopping and IT Retail stores, etc. Moving forward too, we would ensure our presence on platform’s where our customers are available, this aligns with our corporate slogan to ‘always delight our customers’.

E-commerce, LFRs and MBOs are now pertinent threats for the tradional channels. What will be Canon’s  strategic position vis-à-vis traditional channel and these other threats, specially when Canon has always been a channel friendly company?
At Canon, we follow ‘Gemba’, we reach where our customer is. Gemba is where the customer is, where the action is, where value gets created. We believe in constant innovation and evolvement. Our relationship with our customers begins way before a product is purchased and continues throughout. We believe in serving our customers, for as long as possible, constantly taking their feedback into consideration. We have maintained a clear Go to market Strategy with importance to every channel. We have grown in modern and traditional channel in the last few years which worked very well for us with our Partners appreciating our approach. We do maintain high level of interest in Channel profitability for a sustained growth.

How has the Northeast market been for Canon? Do you find any difference in this market, when compared to the rest of India market? Why did you start your road show with Guwahati?
Regional penetration is one of our core focus areas as we want to make our products and services available to the farthest geographies in the country. North East too is a very significant market for us. We are happy to begin “Sparkle” from Guwahati as its one of our best Performing markets with strong Consumer voice.

Our 50 city roadshow SPARKLE, is designed to add to the festive season celebrations. It would include live demonstrations of our key products, across both Inkjet and Laser offerings. Through SPARKLE, we are aiming to drive direct engagement with our partners by understanding and meeting the printing needs of their region. Envisioned to target over 5000 IT resellers across the nation, we are confident that this endeavor would strengthen our regional outreach.