Consumers in India and the world over have become extremely tech-savvy and they almost completely rely on technology for their day-to-day chores. The global consumer electronics industry is projected to show considerable growth over the forecast period 2019-2025, courtesy of surging demand for products such as televisions, smartphones, and wearable devices. Also, rising disposable income coupled with increasing adoption of smart devices, technological advancements, and increasing penetration of the internet of things (IoT) is giving a push to the growth of the consumer electronic market.
A multibillion-dollar industry, consumer electronics is steadily developing with technological integration, adding new product lines towards the changing lifestyles of consumers. The continuous advancement in the segment and also the adoption of these technologies in their lifestyle by the consumers have made this market extremely lucrative as also competitive and while there have been numerous established consumer electronics brands in the market – both foreign and homegrown – the recent years have seen a number of start-ups emerging in this space, giving tough competition to their competitors. In addition, the increase in multi-room streaming, the advent of cloud services, increased use of e-commerce platforms, and product bundling are the factors influencing the market's growth positively in the long run.
This is more true now with the consumer electronics market still resilient during the pandemic, even with the intermittent closure of physical stores worldwide. People are spending most of their time at home and this has led to an increase in demand for greater comfort and security through smart devices and appliances.
According to Statista, revenue in the consumer electronics segment is projected to reach US$ 17,387 million in 2021, growing at a CAGR of 9.34 percent to reach a market volume of US$ 24,852 million by 2025. Also, the number of users in the segment is expected to amount to 386 million by 2025. Also, interestingly in the consumer electronics segment, 33 percent of the total market revenue is estimated to be generated through online sales by the year 2023 and this has started already with around every fifth household appliance already bought online.
Such stats and trends in the category have led to a number of newer brands in the segment operating on the D2C business model, in order to besides leveraging the growth in the D2C segment, also connecting and reaching directly and with ease to their consumer base.
Furthermore, the push from the Indian government and its ‘Make in India’ initiative aimed at transforming the country into a global technology and manufacturing hub has led to a surge in software and digital innovation, with over 55,000 new start-ups created and US$ 63 billion dollars of funding invested since 2015.
Even as the segment has players like Apple, Samsung, Xiaomi, etc., the new entrants with the D2C approach, in the likes of boAt, Noise, Portronics, etc. are standing tall and have gotten extremely popular amongst the enthusiasts and have managed to see peak growth in the past few months. Here are few new-age D2C brands ruling the consumer electronics market in the country presently:
Founded in 2016 by Aman Gupta and Sameer Mehta, consumer tech company boAt is a homegrown popular brand that offers headphones, earphones, earbuds, speakers, travel chargers, and premium cables.
Recognized for being the leader in the earwear and wearable segment, boAt forayed into the wearable segment with the launch of its smart band in November 2020, and later in June 2021, the brand announced its entry into the personal grooming category with MISFIT. As part of its category expansion strategy, boAt launched innovative grooming appliances such as beard trimmers, shavers, groomers, and many more under ‘MISFIT’.
boAt retails its products through e-commerce platforms such as Amazon and Flipkart alongside its own platform and has a presence in more than 5,000 retail stores. The D2C start-up has received its latest funding round of Rs 50 crore from Qualcomm Ventures in April 2021 and will utilize the same to roll out next-generation audio and lifestyle products across geographies.
Sameer Mehta said, “As boAt enters the next phase of growth and innovation, we look forward to building a relationship with Qualcomm to deepen our R&D capabilities and further augment our efforts to manufacture products in India.”
In January, boAt had raised over Rs 731 crore from an affiliate of Warburg Pincus, towards ramping up manufacturing and go global. The brand has been a disruptor in the category and has introduced more than 20 new in the audio category in FY21. Within two years into operations, boAt had registered US$ 15.4 million (Rs 108 crore) gross sales in FY18.
Launched by Gaurav Khatri and Amit Khatri in 2014 with their savings of around Rs 7.18 crore, Noise was initially introduced in the Indian market as a retailer of smartphone covers and other accessories. The cousin duo had tied up with Chinese manufacturers to make the smartphone covers and sold them in India and before it could plummet because of the presence of a huge number of unorganized players in the segment, the co-founders started researching into smart wearables and Bluetooth earphones and launched both the products in 2018 with the strategy to sell good quality smart wearables and Bluetooth earphones that were high on features at a value-for-money price.
Noise prides itself on having its in-house R&D and design teams working with the ODMs to finalize the products. Gurgaon-based D2C start-up was the leading smartwatch brand in June and September quarter and retails more than 19 products in smart wearable and audio categories.
Noise saw a 100 percent year-on-year (YoY) growth and double-digit month-on-month (MoM) since the pandemic began and sold over 100,000 smartwatches on an average per month during the year, and is aiming to double the numbers this year.
Amit Khatri maintained, “With people getting conscious about their health and fitness, the demand for personal devices has increased. Wearable watches are gaining popularity for the fact that they offer an array of fitness and health-related features, across various styles and budgets that people can choose from. Adding to that, people working out of home and focusing even more on their wellness have made wearable watches the need of the hour.”
Kushal Kaushik and Akshay De launched LoopAudio in 2018, intending to build top-notch but pocket-friendly earphones. The D2C start-up currently manufactures four types of Bluetooth earphones for different activity needs and has an average ticket size of Rs 2,150.
The brand makes use of high-end parts but offers inexpensive products. It controls the prices by cutting off all middlemen from the supply chain since it works in D2C business model and also by minimising the design costs.
LoopAudio has clocked a complete income of Rs 1.55 crore from promoting 10K gadgets since its launch. The brand invests in technology, product features and quality instead of visual design.
"We try to bring aesthetic design naturally into our workflow but do not want to spend anything extra on that. In today’s consumer electronics market, designs get old every three months. So, it is better to focus on the functionality instead of fretting about controlling the contours,” maintained Kunal Kaushik.
The brand procures the parts for the earphones both locally and internationally, and co-develops its products by working with factories with required infrastructure and experience with audio devices.
LoopAudio got shortlisted for Shiprocket’s Rocketfuel accelerator programme in 2020 which helped it solidify its marketing, product placement, packaging, building brand narratives, funding pitch and equity management.
Portronics is one of the leading gadgets brand in India, launched by Jasmeet Singh Sethi in the year 2010. Based in Delhi, the D2C brand sells a variety of wireless earphones, headphones and other sound systems. With over 1,600+ successful product launches and innovations, the brand stands first in revolutionizing the portable and innovative technology that has been dominating the Indian landscape.
Portronics claims to be the first to introduce Indian technology to innovative portable bluetooth speakers, earphones, car accessories, hubs & cables, power banks, and many more.
“Our vision and goal is to transform products from simple gadgets to an enriching lifestyle experience. Our user-centered work strives to make your life easier and more convenient so that you can make room for new possibilities. Our goal is to give a reforming definition to technological devices by crowning them as enablers and not just mere liabilities. Portronics has consistently served the best services and products in the Indian market leading the growth of technology,” said Jasmeet Singh Sethi.
The D2C brand recently added ‘Chime Speaker’ to its popular Bluetooth Speaker range that comes with an in-box Wired Karaoke Mic. ‘Portronics Chime’ Bluetooth speaker has been designed ergonomically to give the users an immersive 360-degree sound experience with its 10Wx2 of sound output that reaches every corner and every direction.