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From B2C to B2B, Toshiba is hard-selling its new identity

The brand is focusing more on TV and digital for its communication and launched its LinkedIn channel. Abhishek Mehta, Head, PR, Advertising, Toshiba India, shares with the reason behind its new identity and its future plans in India

Having started off India almost 50 years ago, Japanese conglomerate Toshiba’s long journey in India has seen several twists and turns. And now, armed with a new identity to project its transformation from a wholly B2B company from B2C, the brand launched a 360-degree campaign to build awareness around its new face — keeping print and radio out of its communication channels and giving weightage to digital, television and business magazines. It also launched its LinkedIn channel to stay connected to the audience.

In an interaction with Abhishek Mehta, Head, PR and Advertising, Toshiba India, shared the journey of the brand since its inception in India, how it has expanded into different sectors, and its realisation of B2C not being its forte.

Starting from 2015, the company exited the consumer electronics business. Toshiba TV, PC and Home Appliances businesses have been handed over to other companies by way of sale or brand licensing arrangements.

Abhishek Mehta

“Due to the lowering of prices, the market situation and severe competition, in 2015, Toshiba started building the brand in the B2B space and launched a campaign tiled ‘For the next India’, which ran for three years,” said Mehta.

The company re-entered the Indian market formally as a brand in 2010, when the market was flooded with brands such as Hitachi, Mitsubishi, and started communicating directly with the audience in 2011. Toshiba was never just an electronics company but was a conglomerate, and B2C was just a part of it. Soon it realised its strength was not in the electronics business. The company now sees a huge potential in industrial batteries, water treatment, infrastructure, energy and the power sector.

The company had last year replaced its tag line ‘Leading Innovation’, which flashed for almost 20 years in the market, with ‘Essence of Toshiba’, which it believes is more than any advertising slogan. With its new belief and purpose, ‘Toshiba turns on the promise of a new day’, Mehta says the brand’s technology has a deep-rooted impact on human lives. “We believe companies like us, by joining hands with like-minded companies, would be able to have a positive impact on human lives.”

The brand has two layers to its communication strategies and content structure. As a global company, Toshiba has its global face and belief, and communication around it. But its identity and communication in India is different. Focusing on digital, the company launched its LinkedIn channel two weeks ago. Overall, its digital spend is growing substantially across YouTube, LinkedIn, Google search, etc.  

The brand feels India as a heterogeneous market unlike in China or Japan, which are homogenous and not that difficult to target. Being specific to its TG in India, Toshiba communicates and advertises primarily via three mediums. The brand has kept radio and print out of its channels. “TV is most important for us. In TV we look specifically to news and infotainment genre. We are also into business magazines and digital,” Mehta said, adding digital would take a lead in the coming years.

Asking if the brand plans to dive into content marketing, Mehta said, “We are evaluating content marketing. In 2019, we might get into the medium. Currently, the challenge is to shift the focus of the audience from electronics to a B2B company.”

In 2019, the company will focus on building solutions for products such as ACs, elevators, infrastructure and industrial batteries.

Talking about the future of Toshiba, Mehta said, “Few companies have their presence in both the cyber and physical spaces. We are heading towards the Cyber Physical System, where there would be an integration of both the spaces. This is our thought.”

With a target to make India a manufacturing hub, the company is supporting the Make in India initiative in a big way. “For power generation, we have most of our factories in Japan and then in India. We are getting a lot of export orders from India,” Mehta said.

Since its products have to meet global standards, the brand is very clear on its quality check parameters, Mehta said. “We have a lot of documentation and standard procedures that are always followed. A lot of training is imparted. Japanese experts are supervising, training and educating the Indian staff,” he said.

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