Over the last 75 years, Sennheiser has been at the forefront of shaping the future of audio with its innovative range of products -headphones, loudspeakers, microphones and wireless transmission systems-across the globe. In India, the German audio giant has seen audio change from being a computer peripheral to a lifestyle accessory; it has consistently raised the bar with products that offer superior audio experiences. Daniel Sennheiser, along with Andreas Sennheiser, is the third generation of the family to run the company. On a recent visit to launch the company's new AMBEO Soundbar, Daniel Sennheiser, who is the co-CEO of Sennheiser Electronic GmbH & Co KG, spoke to Sudhir Chowdhary on its overall global growth strategy, journey and focus on consistent innovation. Excerpts:
Sennheiser is a well-known audio brand, how has the company evolved since inception?
The company was founded out of necessity by my grandfather after the Second World War. He realised that applying all the scientific knowledge to products and customers was fun and he really enjoyed being an entrepreneur. It grew rather rapidly in the beginning and then my father took over in the late 70's, early 80's. His vision was not only to produce products but to also sell products and be closer to the customers around the globe -hence interaction with customers increased. Innovation pipeline has always been a strong pursuit-patent or inventions whether it is headphones or interference tube microphone which revolutionised film making or vinyl recording and so on. All these inventions were driving it but at the same time we are closer to customer servicing, hence, till today we are around, family owned, and successful in the third generation.
Tell us about your India presence and commitment.
India is an interesting country when it comes to adopting technology quite rapidly because the Indian culture understands maths well and our scientific background is appreciated here very well. We came here rather early in 2007 and usually when we come into a country we are here to stay. It is a family commitment to start something and build it bit by bit and re-invest the money that we earn here in the country.
How has Sennheiser grown its market share in India in comparison to other markets?
India for us is not an emerging market anymore. India has huge potential and is an interesting market. We have a strong team here covering everything from sales to support and technical service. In the last couple of years, we have seen tremendous growth here. Today, we are looking at double-digit growth in India. But in the core segments like wireless headphones we have also doubled our turnover last year in the Indian market. India is the second largest market for us in the APAC region. With online sales rising in India, half of our consumer sales is done online. This is interesting as you need to have a combination of both physical touchpoints and online sales recommendation-which is very important for our brand to grow. We are also the most recommended brand which means consumers are satisfied with our product. We have this professional heritage wherein we know that our product can't fail, and has to be rock solid. So, we apply the classical German quality philosophy to all our products.
What is Sennheiser's experience in the B2B business?
The growth of B2B segment is tremendous and even comparable to the consumer segment. In most cases we see that growth of the professional segment is not comparable to the consumer segment, but in India business communication growth is as high as consumer segment. Our team has developed the opportunity well in terms of growth and increase in revenue.
When it comes to the consumer, what are the key demands and how does Sennheiser fulfill them?
The key demands from the consumer is about having a good emotional experience. You listen to music because you want to have a good feeling. Sound is a very important part because sound is very much connected to our emotions. For example, you can switch off the sound at a horror movie and see the video-it looks ridiculous, however if you listen to the audio, you are scared. Audio links directly to the emotional system. Therefore, we really care about the audio. Yes, it needs to have a wireless technology and needs to have connections with digital assistance and everything you need today-we need to be compatible to movie systems today-but audio is our top priority.
The audio devices segment today has several brands vying for the customer; what sets Sennheiser apart from the rest of the crowd?
It is exactly the understanding of audio and the emotions that are triggered by audio that is our strength and that sets us apart. Moreover, our understanding of the pro-world keeps us ahead. We understand people not only listening to the music or watching a sport, we also understand people who create that. For example-recording in the studio, recording at a sports event, and developing a film-we understand both sides. That's what sets us apart.