Green Chang-Ching-Lin (GCC), regional marketing head, MSI, in an exclusive conversation with EFY Group shed light on the increasing size of gaming electricals and accessories in India. He pointed out that as online gaming evolves in the country, so will the opportunity for retailing gaming specific products like gaming headphones, controllers and more.
“Working with multiple brands in the past such as HTC’s VR solutions, Steel Series and Cheery’s keyboard integration, we understand what the youth is demanding these days. Enabling and integrating a unique experience with technologies such as the flashing keyboard, surround audio on VR devices and the visual equalizer, MSI’s aim is to create an engaging and immersive gaming experience for all its users,” said GCC.
He added, “India is such a big country and has a diverse set of consumers, so to find consumers real demand is a challenge for us. But we are gradually progressing basis our understanding of the market to fulfil the consumer demands and channel partners are playing a big role in that.”
Here are some more excerpts from the story.
ACE – How are MSI gaming accessories different than ones offered by other brands?
GCC – MSI is always finding solutions to develop the gaming environment more by bringing in the latest technology and integrating hardware and software smoothly to enhance the gaming experience for our end consumers. With technology such as the Dragon Center, the consumer can easily control RGB light to have an immersive experience while gaming along with that MSI’s integrated solutions, users can also sync preference over the cloud across devices.
ACE – How big is the gaming accessories industry in India? What’s your strategy to tap this market?
GCC – As a brand with a major focus on gaming, our aim is to focus not just on gaming accessories but the overall experience. The past three years have seen a huge growth in the gaming industry with multiple tournaments taking place in India, therefore, we believe in bringing the best of products that meet the needs of our consumers. Be it laptops or gaming accessories, MSI has always pushed boundaries when it comes to ground breaking technology.
Working with multiple brands in the past such as HTC’s VR solutions, Steel Series and Cheery’s keyboard integration, we understand what the youth is demanding these days. Enabling and integrating a unique experience with technologies such as the flashing keyboard, surround audio on VR devices and the visual equalizer, MSI’s aim is to create an engaging and immersive gaming experience for all its users.
ACE – Do you think the channel partners will play an important role in helping MSI achieve these targets?
GCC – Channel partners have played a pivotal role in the growth of our brand in India. MSI already has a strong presence in the country. With the launch of our fifth and sixth gaming store in Coimbatore and Lucknow respectively, we have taken the total count to six exclusive gaming stores in the country.
We are excited to extend our brand presence to the newer markets in India. We have witnessed a great potential for our products in these markets and hence decided to open exclusive stores in the respective cities. We want customers to have a hands-on experience of our products and make them more accessible to a larger audience.
We will be opening another exclusive store in Delhi next week, followed by Hyderabad. We will continue to increase our footprint in the country and plan to have 18-20 exclusive brand stores by end of next year.
We are also present in about 30 key cities through our authorised service partners. Our products are also available on leading e-commerce players Amazon and Flipkart. We will focus on developing the rural market with stronger trade relations and better service networks and ensure that our products are accessible not just in metro cities but also across tier II, III and IV cities.
ACE – Which channel are you more focussed towards – online or offline?
GCC – We’ll be actively operating both online and offline channels. With the growing number of gamers and the professional community in the country, their needs are constantly evolving, and it is important for us to be present on offline as well as online retailers.
To begin with, our marketing spends have largely focus on digital. We will additionally provide finance schemes, EMI’s, bundled offers, etc. to make our products more accessible to the Indian consumer. We will also continue to focus on-ground activations to engage with the young consumers and build the e-sports culture in the country.
ACE – Which geographies do you think will contribute more in your success Tier 1 or Tier 2 and III cities? Why?
GCC – While there is a growing need for both gamers and content creators across the country, we are currently witnessing the highest contribution from Tier I markets. This is primarily because the gaming ecosystem in India is still maturing and budding gamers need support to develop their skills.
The market is growing exponentially and we see this as a beginning for bigger things in store. The gaming market in India is slowly and steadily on the rise. This is driven by the demand from millennia’s and the progression from playing on smartphones to dedicated gaming laptops. The PC gaming segment has witnessed an increase primarily driven by accessible, affordable and easily available gaming devices which are better than before.
ACE – Are you looking for new channel partners in India? How can one reach you to be associated with MSI as a channel partner?
GCC – Channel partners play a key role in communicating the USP’s and product portfolio to our end consumers. We are constantly on the lookout for expanding our channels as we believe our target audience lies in all parts of the country.
We are always welcoming new partners and dealers to form a strong partner relationship to reach our distributors. We believe it’s very important to engage with our partners to best understand the needs of the consumers as they are directly engaging with them. Effective and efficient interaction with our brand has led to increased productivity, loyalty and engagement and has been beneficial in on boarding new partners.
ACE – What, in terms of support, do you offer to your channel partners? Please elaborate?
GCC – Since channel partners are critical for us in terms of being a voice for the brand, training and development programs for them on a regular basis plays a key role in obtaining the desired result. We contribute in running renovation support along with in-shop display to attract more consumers. We also run multiple sales programs and in-shop user gatherings to boost not just our sales but also their knowledge.
ACE – What is the biggest advantage and the biggest difficulty operating in India? How are you answering these issues? Any support from the channel partners?
GCC – The gaming ecosystem in India is still maturing and budding gamers need support to develop their skills. Also, while the 5G roll out is in the pipeline, the gaming industry is still very nascent in the country and there is a lot of catching up as compared to nations like China and North America.
Gamers are still on the lookout for proper equipment and it’ll take some more time to fully understand the concept of hardcore gaming. Having said that, it is very encouraging to see that the industry is focusing on promoting e-sports competitions.
We witnessed the first PUBG Mobile India Series 2019 in Mumbai recently and more big tournaments including DreamHack and ESL One are on the cards. Therefore, we will also enable the latest tech connectivity – wifi 6 to welcome 5G internet that will surely make India a better place for E-Sport.
The market is growing exponentially and we see this as a beginning for bigger things in store. India is a key growing and potential market for MSI. To cater to our consumers in India, we invested in market research to better understand the trends, consumer demands and behaviour. We have found potential especially on the software and gaming content creation such as VR or Film effecting since the technology wave is very strong in the country.
India is such a big country and has a diverse set of consumers, so to find consumers real demand is a challenge for us. But we are gradually progressing basis our understanding of the market to fulfil the consumer demands and channel partners are playing a big role in that.
ACE – How much growth are you expecting in the next financial? What’s your strategy to achieve the same?
GCC – India is a key focus market for MSI and we will invest is building an eco-system here. We have received an overwhelming response from the Indian market. We understand that every consumer has his unique set of needs and demands. As a brand, we are constantly working towards offering products that best fit our consumers.
In the gaming portfolio, MSI currently has around 8 different series of laptops with about 50 SKU’s and are looking forward to adding another 15 SKU’s by the first half of 2020. MSI currently has a market share of 15% in gaming laptops and are looking to increase the share to 18-20% by end of this year.
In the Content Creation Series, we have recently launched a complete product line in India. The Content Creation series is currently available exclusively on Flipkart.com. In addition to this, Ingram Micro is the sole distributor for the new series. The new product line-up starts from INR 59,990 and goes up to INR 2,69,990. The line-up includes 15 laptops across 3 series; namely Creator, Prestige and Modern and series and we have a positive outlook in terms of response from the Indian consumer.