We want more free trade, elimination of policy bottlenecks: Seiko Epson Chief
Minoru Usui, the Global President of Japanese Company Seiko Epson Corporation JULY-2014 – Minoru Usui, the Global President of Japanese Company Seiko Epson Corporation, has a passion for technology and innovation. This is obvious in the vast canvas of high precision products manufactured by the company, including inkjet printers, printing systems, 3LCD projectors, industrial robots and micro devices. The company has manufacturing and development facilities in 27 locations around the world. Usui took over the company’s reins in 2008 in the midst of the turmoil caused by the global financial crisis. By 2014, he has been able to turn the fortunes of the company and embody in its products the company’s tagline — “Exceed Your Vision.” Usui spoke to Business Line during a recent trip to its core device production facilities in Nagano, Japan. Excerpts from the interview: Q. : Several Japanese companies have manufacturing bases in India. With the Narendra Modi government bullish on attracting investments into the country, is Seiko Epson planning anything big for India? Minoru Usui : India is an attractive market to cater to. We can consider it. But we find there are several issues in India. Each State has different rules and regulations and when it comes to taxation and other policy matters, India is not so great for investment at the moment. Q. : What would you like from the India-Japan tax treaty, if it had to be renegotiated? M.U. : We would obviously want more free trade, elimination of existing bottlenecks and much more freedom in policy. Q. : How do you view the emerging markets and are there any different or unique marketing strategies that you use to sell your products in India? M.U. : Our strategy is to study the emerging economies and find out what precisely customers in these countries want. Then, we work on our research and development to be able to provide them the appropriate product. In India, we found that in the printers category, consumers are looking for high quality products at low running costs. That’s what we have provided them through our L-series printers. We find that Indians are very keen on entertainment and love watching movies, so we have produced home theatre projectors that are of high digital quality and suit the pocket. Our interactive white boards using high precision technology are ideally suited for the emerging educational segment. Q. : Do you feel you are going to increase market share in printers, projectors and white boards in India in the future? What kind of potential do you see? M.U. : In the Indian market and other markets as well, the key point is not just to create market share. It’s to create fantastic products that exceed the vision of the buyer. The result of that will be market share. So, market share is more of an effect than an aim for Epson. Every company wants to be No. 1 and I am no exception to that. However, for me, it’s not simply good enough to defeat the opposition. What we have to do is to go to markets like India and really understand what Indian people want from the products we have and create products to answer those needs. If that means doing something very different from the others, that’s what we will do. Q. : There is also a luxury market in India that’s quite large and we are seeing that your sensing health products and smart glasses could address this market perfectly. In the near future, will you test-market any of these products in India? M.U. : I’m thinking very carefully about the Indian market now. Perhaps, we have to change the way we do business in India. As you said, there are very large income disparities in India and the rich are much richer than the rich in Japan, but the majority of the people have a much more basic lifestyle, so in the future, we would have to put in place a strategy where we could address each part of society with our products. Q. : Epson is an India shy company. Many MNCs have invested here, but you have not. Ours is a country of over a billion people, what’s your India vision? M.U. : Until a few years ago, the Indian Epson operations actually reported to Singapore. However, two years ago, we realised that this was not the ideal situation, so I made the Indian operations separate from Singapore and now, it reports directly to Japan. So, we have invested a lot in building the operations in India and put a lot of efforts into recruiting good people and developing the staff. We hope to do a lot more in India in the future. Q. : During the global economic crisis, your company went through a tough time. It’s in the last few years that you have managed to go forward. What did you learn from those troubled times? M.U. : While we went through a tough time, we realised that we had to review our situation carefully and recognise what our strengths were. When the times are tough, you have to be selective in what you do… that’s what we did to go forward.
Thursday, February 12, 2015