NICON THAI Sales and Service Co, the Thai-owned manufacturer of Sherman audio products, is expanding its market beyond Thailand to its neighbours.
Akapol Kittiratanapinan, chief executive of Nicon Thai Sales and Service, said the company had grown rapidly by selling amplifiers and other audio devices brought in from Japan. After establishing itself in the audio-device market, the company has added manufacturing to its capabilities and, with German know-how, it launched its own brand Sherman. It set up a factory in Samut Sakhon province.
With Sherman now a popular brand, the company has the so-called CLMV countries – Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam – in its sights.
“Our strategy emphasises product development in Thailand to respond to our customers’ needs, which tend to change over time,” Akapol said.
“The company has to keep up continuous improvement in the development of its products and create customer satisfaction in the digital era. In the past, when people listened to music outside their homes, they listened to the music individually. But when they are home, they listen to music together. It is a family activity. Today, all customers listen to music via their smartphones inside or outside the house.”
Akapol added that the company’s target customers were those aged between 18 and 30.
“Therefore, our marketing plan will place emphasis on personal audio devices such as headphones or small movable amplifiers that are light, colourful and full of handy functions at reasonable prices, in a range of Bt1,000 to Bt3,900.”
Akapol said that Sherman, which was established 19 years ago by Somchai Kittiratanapinan, had started expanding into the CLMV market in 2015. Distribution is handled by dealers who have joined in the marketing push for Sherman to be recognised in the international market.
“Our expansion efforts have been partly supported by government agencies, including the Ministry of Industry and the Department of International Trade Promotion of the Ministry of Commerce. That resulted in our export rate reaching 10 per cent in 2016,” he said.
“We expanded our market to CLMV countries after realising that [people there] prefer products from Thailand. Their way of using audio is similar to how it is in our country, which is usually organised small or big outdoor events such as merit making, wedding ceremonies, the opening of a new house and New Year parties. Therefore big and loud amplifiers are popular.
“We strongly focused on Laos. We have organised marketing events such as roadshows to ensure Sherman is well recognised by dealers and customers. With these efforts, we have been very successful and exceeded our sales targets,” Akapol said.
“We plan to invade the CLMV market fully after having been very successful in Laos last year. The other countries are in the starting stage for us. We are sure that Sherman will be well recognised in the CLMV market within five years,” he said.
“We also plan to bring Sherman to the stock market in Thailand in the future.”
Akapol said the company last year posted Bt1 billion in total sales, of which between 10 and 15 per cent was from exports – mostly to the CLMV market.
“We expect 10-per-cent sales growth every year and export sales to reach 30 per cent of our total sales in five years,” he said.
Akapol said that for Thailand, the competing brands, especially from South Korea, Japan and Europe, were still active. However, his company believes that audio devices are daily-use products, so its strong point is to develop products that satisfy customers’ need at a reasonable price.
“Our standout product, the SB22B2B model amplifier, was launched recently. Its features include a travel-friendly size with modern design and full functions at a weight of only 3.6 kilograms. This will be a much-loved friend ensuring unlimited entertainment for when people are travelling,” he said.
“This model comes at a very reasonable price and focuses on new-generation customers by responding to the digital lifestyle with features such as Bluetooth. You won’t miss any of your favourite songs.
“Moreover, we will focus more on customers in projects such as conference rooms, karaoke and government bureaux when access to international brands is limited.”
Akapol said his working philosophy – passed down from his father – was: “Operating business with ethics, empathy and honesty, while taking care of employees and being responsible to customers.” And, of course, paying attention to the product.