When you are out in the market and you are looking to buy an appliance, you are bombarded with the sheer number of choices of brands that are available to buy. No wonder, one of the most common questions on our website is: “Which is the best brand for me?”. Many people who visit websites providing user feedback (e.g. mouthshut) on brands come back disappointed because almost every brand has got negative feedback. And for obvious reasons. The problem is not that the website is bad (in fact it provides a great perspective). The reason for negative reviews is that most people do not provide feedback when they have better experience. But they do make sure to do so if the experience is bad. And the experience can be bad because a lot of times their expectations from a brand are not met. It is not necessary that the product does not meet expectations, sometime service also does not meet expectations. Sometimes people do not have the right set of expectations (they buy something when the brand promises something else) and sometimes people do not even know what are the right expectations. Finding a right brand is always a tricky task.
As there is no perfect brand to buy, with this post we just want to give some of our perspectives on what is a brand and which is the best brand to buy.
What is a brand?
A business definition of a brand is: It is an image that help harried customers in the crowded marketplace, by standing for certain benefits and value. We associate certain value from a brand. We expect all the products from a certain brand to behave in a certain way. We expect consistency. However, there is a catch. Something I learned the hard way through my experience. Being from IIT, I interacted with a lot of IITians. Most people have a high regard for IIT as a brand. But are all IITians the same? Not really. Interact with an IITian and it is highly likely that you would interact with a smart person, but not every time. My perception is that 80-20 rule works everywhere. 80% chances are that the product you get from a brand would represent a brand value, but it is possible that you may also end up with one of those 20%. So it is not necessary that every product you get from a brand would bring the same value and thus it is not necessary that every brand with which one has had bad experience would always provide a bad experience.
Appliance Brands in India
From what I have seen, I can categorise the brands (of various appliances) available in India on the basis of country of origin. It is very important to analyse the origins of a brand because every brand carries the traits of the country/continent they originate from. I have divided them into the following categories – American, European, Japanese, Korean, Indian and Other Asian (Including Chinese) in the list below. First have a look at the list:
|Cars||GM (General Motors), Ford Motors, Chrysler||Volkswagen, Volvo, Audi, BMW, Mercedes Benz, Fiat, Skoda||Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Suzuki, Mitsubishi||Hyundai, Ssangyong||Tata Motors, Mahindra Motors, Hindustan Motors|
|Mobile Phones||Apple, Motorola, Blackberry (Canadian)||Nokia||Sony, Panasonic||Samsung, LG||Microtek, Karbonn, Videocon, Lava, Xolo, Intex, Spice||HTC, One Plus, Huawei, Lenovo|
|Televisions||Vu||Philips||Sony, Panasonic, Toshiba, Sansui, Sharp||Samsung, LG||Videocon, Onida, Croma, Koryo (Reliance), Micromax, Moser Baer||Haier|
|Air Conditioners||Carrier, Whirlpool, Trane, Ingersoll Rand||Electrolux||Hitachi, Daikin, Sharp, Panasonic, Mitsubishi, O General (Fujitsu)||Samsung, LG||Blue Star, Voltas, Videocon, Godrej, Onida, Lloyd, IFB, Kenstar, Croma, Koryo (Reliance)||Haier, Midea|
|Refrigerator||Whirlpool||Electrolux, Bosch||Hitachi, Panasonic, Sharp, Toshiba||Samsung, LG||Videocon, Godrej, IFB, Lloyd, Kelvinator||Haier|
|Washing Machines||Whirlpool||Electrolux, Bosch, Siemens||Panasonic||Samsung, LG||Videocon, Godrej, IFB||Haier|
Now here are the specific traits that I feel I find in various categories (please note that this is my personal perception and people may have different experience):
Americans are known for their innovative spirits. For more than a century they have been the pioneers in innovation. They come up with new technology and the world follows. However, America is a country that has abundant resources as compared to other countries. Their per capita availability of resources is huge. Thus, their consumption is also huge. As there are a lot of resources, their interest in efficiency is less. However, they make powerful appliances. You will find brands like GM and Ford make powerful cars, but not so good on efficiency. However, they have been extremely innovative as seen in the case of Apple or Tesla motors. From a price point of view, they are expensive.
Europeans are like long lost cousins of Americans. They also make quite superior technology and are quite innovative. Their companies like BMW, Audi, and even the likes of Nokia are quite superior in technology. In fact, at times, they are better than American technology. They have resources which is quite optimum for their needs. They are not as bad in efficiency as American brands, but they have equally good technology (if not better). These brands are also expensive in general.
One country that has always given a challenge to America in terms of innovation after World War 2 is Japan. They have worked hard, they have innovated. Like most Asian countries, Japan had always been short of resources. A small island with limited resources, their people have for generations worked smartly and efficiently. They were the ones who came out with Just in Time manufacturing. They make the most efficient products with great technology. No wonder likes of Toyota and Hondas have been giving American brands a run for their money. They are also pricey, but if you want efficiency coupled with technology, then a Japanese brand is your best bet.
These are like younger siblings of Japanese brands. The value you get is close to Japanese brands, but still not the same. Good technology and good efficiency, quite functional, but still my personal feeling is that they are a bit like younger siblings. Their pricing is quite affordable. In a country like India, which is quite price sensitive, these brands provide bang for the buck. Japan has been on the forefront in technology for a long time and Koreans have followed them well. If you truly want value for money product, then Korean brands are your best bet.
Indian brands have always followed the real demand of India. The market in India has always been price sensitive as people in India are quite conscious about the price of a product. Indian brands have focussed on Indian demand, however, my personal opinion is that we have been low on innovation and technology till date. The situation is improving and we hope to see a global brand come out of India in near future. Those like Tata and Mahindra have certainly tried punching above their weight. But we mostly import technology components and just assemble them in India with a bit of engineering. A lot of it is also because more expertise in engineering adds to costs making the product pricey. Interesting thing is that these brands are the most sold brands in many segments as they are quite affordable and there is nothing wrong with that. If you are tight on budget then Indian brands are a good option. But do not expect the best technology in that case (however we hope that in near future we will have a company that we can proudly say is Indian).
Other Asian Brands
Last few decades have been dominated by manufacturing from China. And just because they were manufacturing for the top most brands of the world (yes even Apple products are manufactured in China!), they learnt a lot of things from those brands. However you can learn the methods but you cannot copy the thinking. China has been mostly like India: tight on resources. Their products are quite cheap and at times not of great quality as well. Although some good brands have come out like Lenovo, Haier, One Plus which are truly global. But I would still say that Americans/Europeans are great in Technology and Japanese are great in terms of efficiency. Again if you are tight on budget then you can get a bargain in one of the Chinese/Taiwanese brands. But make sure that you do go for a reputed one.
The information above just gives a birds eye view on various brands. It is not necessary that every brand from a region is the same, some may be more popular some may not be. But this is an overall guideline that can help you identify the brand that you may prefer. As I mentioned above that it is extremely difficult to pick up the best and even if we pick one, it is not necessary that the experience will be exactly the same with all products. One just has to apply a better sense or judgement and then leave it at that point.
About the Author:
Abhishek Jain is an Alumnus of IIT Bombay with almost 10 years of experience in corporate before starting Bijli Bachao in 2012. His passion for solving problems moved him towards Energy Sector and he is keen to learn about customer behavior towards Energy and find ways to influence the same towards Sustainability. More from this author.