Iconic windproof lighter maker Zippo Manufacturing Company is sensing a "great potential" in the Indian market, where it is now looking to expand into merchandise products and exploring various product categories here, according to a company official.
The company is looking at a sudden rise of consumption of e-commerce platforms as an opportunity for Zippo to expand in the Indian market and banking on the trend like an exponential growth in luxury products' purchase even from smaller towns.
Besides, Zippo is also considering adopting iconic Indian places and designs to be engraved on its lighters to reach out to more potential consumers, reflecting the culture and traditions of India.
"We are closely monitoring the trends and listening to what the consumers are looking for and we would definitely love to work with Indian aesthetic designers in the coming future," Zippo Global marketing AVP Lucas Johnson told PTI.
The Pennsylvania, US-based company has entered India after officially setting up its subsidiary Zippo Lighters India last year.
"We have doubled our business in the India market within the last 12 months, and we easily project that we will continue this incremental growth into 2022 and beyond," said Johnson.
Zippo is presently focused on the lighter segment but exploring other product categories as well.
Price of Zippo lighter on its own webshop zippo.in starts from Rs 2,519 and goes up to Rs 36,349.
On being asked as to whether Zippo, like it is in other markets, has any plans to enter into merchandise segment including apparel, gifts, outdoors and eyewear etc, in India, he said: "We are committed to the Indian market, and we will be looking to expand to other segments in the coming years."
"Our focus at the moment is on the lighter segment here. We are exploring what other product categories would make sense for Zippo in the India market," said Johnson.
Over the expectation from the Indian market, Johnson said the company has conducted some initial research when it was strategising for the Indian market, and from a consumer perspective, it reflects that Indians have the financial means and the potential desire to purchase its products.
"Our research data showcases that around 40 per cent of the Indian population could be potential Zippo consumers. That is a very large number of people and so that is one of the reasons we think there is a lot of opportunity for us in the market," he added.
Zippo is making a "steady movement" into expanding its presence in the Indian market.
"Our products come in various designs, a wide price range and cater to one's expectations and all important factors, a consumer looks for while buying a product, he said.
Besides, Zippo also has a "huge challenge" to tackle the issue of counterfeit products sold here and is also working towards educating the consumers about how to identify original Zippo products.
"From a brand perspective, Zippo is well-known in the country and has a great brand recall. So much so that a lot of counterfeit and look-alike products are sold under its name. Currently, we are focusing on mitigating the challenge which are presented by counterfeit products," Johnson said.
Zippo as per its marketing and branding exercise is taking some "sure-footed baby steps" and is investing to establish the brand presence in the eyes of the consumer as well as potential partners to grow its presence.
It is also soon launching a new campaign to build awareness about the presence of the brand.
Though, the company has not shared the exact amount of investment but said "it will be concurrent to our growth aspirations".
The current plan of the Zippo is to focus on building the distribution network and then assessing the demand for different types of categories, he added.
The company is looking at consumers who are confident, ambitious dreamers, status and style-conscious, adventurous, fun-loving, self-assured, outgoing, social and seek exclusive experiences.
"While the target is tier-1/top-20 metro cities, we are also looking at wholesalers from major metro cities like Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad to help us branch out and reach comparatively smaller towns like Nagpur, Pune and so on," he said.
The company, as per its retail strategy, is prioritises online sales with its own channel besides several key e-commerce channels partners such as TATA Cliq Luxury, Amazon and Flipkart.
"With the rise of consumption of e-commerce platforms, there is an opportunity for us in our market. We are witnessing an exponential growth in luxury products' purchase from smaller towns," he added.
Zippo is also working toward brick-and-mortar channels in its retail strategy and has plans to focus on non-metro markets as well as its expansion and growth in the Indian market.