In many ways, Samsung South West Asia president and CEO B.D. Park is a quiet leader. He’s media-shy and hardly seen in office as he is constantly on the road, meeting consumers and partners. Excerpts from a rare interview with the 54-year-old:
On the Indian market: In terms of maturity, the Indian market is just starting to expand. Product penetration in India for mobile phones, TVs etc is still much lower than in other, more mature markets. And the main cause is electricity availability, it’s seriously impeding growth. Also, India’s per capita income is much lower than some of the mature economies. India has a huge population but only 20-30 per cent of it can afford to buy good products.
On what clicks in India: Many companies have misunderstood the Indian people. They don’t just pursue low prices. They want appropriate and corresponding value for the price they pay; and they are willing to pay good money if we give them good value. I want to see a situation where whoever wants to buy a Samsung product isn’t able to sleep for two nights in expectation before buying a product and two nights after it in excitement. I want to see that kind of brand aspiration in India.
On Samsung’s strategy in India: Although things like sellout model, real-time inventory are all part of our strategy, Samsung isn’t doing anything that hasn’t been tried before. We focus on customer orientation, whether it’s the starting line or the finishing line. But a keyword for our strategy is also speed. We want to make our processes faster than any of our competitors.
On Apple: I have no desire to know about competition. They will do their job and we will do ours. Every company has its own value proposition. Samsung has its own. There is no time to think about the competition. We are too busy with our own developments. Life is very short. They have their own lives, and we will focus on ours.
On the tag of being a travelling CEO: I don’t need to interfere with daily operations which have their own heads. My job is to find long-term perspectives on how the market is moving and find new opportunities. You can get a real-life feel of the situation only in the field. Indian business partners are always willing to give advice. It pays to listen to them.
On the Korean community in India: It’s a drop of ink in the Indian Ocean.
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