Young consumers more associated with lifestyle oriented products: Arnav Mutneja, Director, Quantum Hi-tech

‘The most prominent impact of pandemic on our day-to-day lives is that most people now spend more time at home than they did earlier.’

The consumer technology market is extremely diverse and caters to a wide category of audience.

Consumer technology has ushered in some instrumental changes in our lives, especially in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. With remote working and learning becoming the new normal, more people began to get acquainted with technological advancements and the buyer behaviour began tilting in favour of newer devices like TWS ear buds and smartwatches. We spoke with Arnav Mutneja, Director at Quantum Hi-tech, one of India’s oldest consumer technology companies founded almost three decades earlier, to get some insights like the correlation between consumer technology and modern lifestyle. Excerpts from the interview:

How do you see the correlation between the growing consumer technology market and modern lifestyle?

The consumer technology market is extremely diverse and caters to a wide category of audience. When we talk about the lifestyle consumer technology market, it gets narrowed down to mostly the young audience, ranging between the age group of18-35. It is the younger set of consumers that is more associated with lifestyle oriented products, which explains the surge in demand in the hearable, wearable and audio segments in particular. Thanks to technology, the older audience is also a part of the evolving consumer technology market ecosystem, for they drive the integration of newer technologies in traditional packaging, such as wired headsets, etc.

Also, the market is completely technology driven and offers a very mixed range of products. With more number of consumers buying the products online, the touch and feel factor is not really the decisive factor, rather the buying behavior is more inclined toward the technology and the look of it.

What segments of consumer technology have witnessed the maximum demand? What has been the impact of pandemic on the demand?

It would not really be fare to compare the demand across category lines, primarily because the past18-20 months have been a very turbulent phase for businesses irrespective of industry and sector. If units sold are to be taken into account, we have experienced a steep spike in demand for contemporary tech items, essentially the devices that are sacrosanct for home office or remote working. For instance, the demand for webcams, keyboards, mouse, router UPS, etc., shot up by nearly five times since the outbreak of the pandemic. In categories like audio, the demand has been growing steadily, with technology being the prime driving factor.

How have you seen the consumer technology market evolve since your inception nearly 30 years ago?

It would not be an exaggeration to state that the consumer technology market has undergone sea changes over the past three decades. The market has become extremely competitive, with a lot of consumer behavior and pattern changing during different timeframes. While the advent of the digital era ushered in a new chapter in the consumer technology space, further evolution of social media and other similar platforms resulted in the consumer becoming very aware of what they need, which was not the case previously. Prices too have become extremely competitive due to the ability of consumers to compare price at the click of a button.

Fresh challenges have presented the stakeholders with newer opportunities, for example it is good that brands like us have a lot of channels today to communicate why our products are better than the other products in specific segments. Gone are the days when brands used to thrive on sheer good will despite not having good offerings in the market. Brands that did so traditionally have no option now but to reinvent themselves.

Audio in particular is one of the most talked about categories in the life-tech segment. What is your take on that?

The most prominent impact of pandemic on our day-to-day lives is that most people now spend more time at home than they did earlier. Prior to the pandemic, most working people used to meet their family in the evening and spend some quality time with them. Now many people are spending the whole day in the house, thereby needing some personal space. The evolution of TWS coincides with this altered behavior of the end consumer. Further, we have seen that the sales for headphones have shrunk by almost 50%,with maximum share taken by TWS. The neckband market has, however, remained steady. The overall market for audio products has been growing in a steady manner since the outbreak.

What makes Quantum a household brand for contemporary tech items or say, a pioneering Indian lifestyle tech brand? Tell us about your journey from being an offline manufacturing company to an online retailer.

Quantum has operated in products that have been extremely mass market and not very expensive, for example a host of products under Rs 1000 category. These products get sold in thousands of quantities, which is why you would find many of our products in households and offices across the country. Since our launch in 1992, we have evolved to become one of India’s largest brands in terms of units sold. It is the factors of reliability and continual growth that instills a sense of confidence among the consumers for our brand. The trust reposed by consumers over the past three decades has also helped us transition to a hybrid sales model, with awareness among consumers and brand recall value being intrinsic to our growth journey.

How has been the YoY growth for the brand and how did Covid impact it?

Quantum has been growing steadily since its inception, which explains the fact that we have been in the business for a long 30 years, since the time India was scrambling to get acquainted with consumer technology. The outbreak of the pandemic has had a major impact, for while it increased the demand, it also caused an acute shortage of semiconductors. Had it not been for the pandemic that disrupted the whole supply chain, we would have doubled our revenue as compared to previous year.

What are your future plans? What innovative offerings can be expected in the near future?

We are looking at the expansion of our audio portfolio, which recently saw the launch of our premium SonoTrix range. We will soon come with an entire range in each of the personal hearable and audio categories. In addition to it, we plan to foray into wearable, home entertainment and office stationery, which is expected to witness a surge in demand owing to the reopening of offices.

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