Innovation Is In Our DNA: Nikhil Gupta

Signify India's (formerly Philips Lighting) Chief Marketing Officer, Nikhil Gupta speaks to BW Marketing World exclusively shedding light upon the company's journey, strategies, its role in shaping the future of connected lighting

In a world where innovation is a continuous constant, Signify India, formerly known as Philips Lighting, stands at the forefront of a transformative era in the lighting industry. In a full-fledged conversation with BW Marketing World, Nikhil Gupta, Chief Marketing Officer of Signify India sheds light on the company's journey, strategies, and the future of lighting. With this, we explore the narrative of Signify India's evolution and its role in shaping the future of connected lighting.


What prompted the transformation from Philips Lighting to Signify in India?

As the history goes, in 2015, Philips Group decided to list us as an independent entity and was executed in 2016, from where we were a separate entity as Philips Lighting. During the next couple of quarters, the shareholding of Philips in Philips Lighting reduced as we went public and therefore as per the local laws, we had to change the name of the company. 

Globally, we wanted a new name which should signify something around lightning, and we came up with 'Signify' which signifies the new meaning of lighting.

What does the marketing strategy of Signify India look like in the coming year?

Signify is the market leader in the space of lighting for both the consumer as well as B2B segment. In terms of marketing, this year, we've seen a major shift in the products that are available in both the consumer and the professional space. For next year, our focus will continue to be around innovation in products. Our marketing strategy will continue to be around growing the connected base in India for lighting and driving sustainability, especially in the B2B segment.

What are the strategies Signify India is looking at, especially for the festive season?

There is a lot of interest that we're seeing in the consumer space as Diwali is largely impacting the consumer market more than B2B. In the consumer market, we are seeing a lot of interest in the connected side. We have introduced the Philips Wiz and Philips Hue products in the Indian market which are connected propositions for the home lighting market and are being promoted both digitally and offline for the Indian market.

For decorative lighting, this segment sees the maximum amount of impact on Diwali. Interestingly, we're also noticing that Indian consumers are looking for more experiences. We have about 290 plus decorative lighting stores which are exclusively at Philips smart light hubs across the country. This has been a critical part of our marketing strategy for Diwali this year.

Signify India went through a transformation from a Product Company to a Systems Firm selling value-added products. How should people concentrate on looking at the brand of Signify overall?

Earlier, Signify Philips Lighting and now 'Signify', we saw industry transformation coming into the market early and decided to transition our business model, especially on the B2B side into the systems and the services model. The systems model is offering connected lighting solutions for businesses to adopt which deliver better energy efficiency, more sustainable operations, and a longer life for the products.

The other is the services piece. We offer services as a product in India in the lighting industry. Signify delivers the promise of energy efficiency and quality to end users where they can opt for an OpEx model instead of investing in infrastructure for lighting. Signify takes lightning as a service where the quality of the service delivery is our responsibility.

Signify has a strong focus on sustainability and energy efficiency and your products also include of sustainable lighting. What impact does it have on consumers' choices today?

For us, sustainability is a holistic approach. It is there in our products, packaging as well as the services that we offer today. We are very conscious of the environmental impact of our offering.

Our products are designed to deliver best-in-class energy efficiency for our customers. The products consume less electricity, have longer life and we utilise materials that are more recyclable or repurposable, especially in our B2B range. For something as small as product packaging, we have removed plastic from all our product packaging. We even showed that we re-use and re-purpose as much packaging as possible and make sure that the carbon footprint is minimised for Signify. 

As a company, we are a 100 per cent carbon-neutral company and 6 years running, we will also be in the Dow Jones Sustainability index.

Traditional media is taking a high in terms of being incorporated into campaigns. How is Signify India looking towards the festive season in terms of marketing?

For the festive season, our investments are in digital marketing. We have a digital-first approach on Diwali this time and most of our offerings are communicated to those cohorts that are most relevant. However, traditional media continues to be the media of choice when we have something that we communicate in mass. Investments in traditional media continue to be high because their reach is extremely high, but digital media is extremely efficient when it comes to reaching the right target audience. However, traditional media continues to have a slightly heavier share. 

For example, decorative lighting that we are promoting in the Diwali season is available from an entry ticket item of something like ₹1000 to a chandelier which is more than ₹50,000.

As I mentioned earlier, consumers are also looking for experiences and we are driving traffic into our smartlight hubs, which are the exclusive decorative lighting stores. We provide tailored consumer experiences to our end users, and they can experience our products in all their glory. This is where we believe that the true conversion happens for the product, especially when we're talking about solutions or products that are higher end. 

Most of the campaigns today are integrated, consumers are consuming content across various media, and we continue to leverage and move our budgets between these multiple media vehicles. We should be at 60 per cent for traditional media including television, print and outdoor 40 per cent of digital media in our marketing spends.

How is Signify leveraging the Internet of Things (IoT) and data analytics in its marketing efforts?

We were one of the first movers when it came to IoT and connected lighting in India, way back in 2014-15 when we introduced our Philips Hue product which was the first connected lighting product introduced in the Indian market. Similarly, our interact platform, which is our B2B IoT platform for lighting for B2B customers was introduced in India and a lot of connected lighting now resides on our interact platform for Signify.

Data is the big thing, but we ensure that there is a lot of emphasis given to the privacy of the data. We are not using the current usage data to target people, it is against our policy, but we use the data to create trends as they give a lot of insight which helps us improve the product as well as the communication that we are doing around these products.

Larger trends like the requirement for energy efficiency and the use and application of these products are seen in the Indian market for both consumer and professional space for IoT. They are being monitored and based on that we try to improve our subsequent offerings, providing upgrades to the systems and the platforms.

What does the future of lighting and marketing look like for Signify India?

Soon, more connected lighting and more connected opportunities in homes are going to come. Lighting is one of the first things that people take as an adoption platform for setting up a connected home. Our innovations in this area will continue to drive our growth and our market shares for consumers in this area.

On the B2B side, we will continue to be known for the quality of the light and the innovation that we deliver in this space, and I think those are some of the things that will continue to hold us in on a very strong ground over the next 6 months to a year.

Innovation is in our DNA, whether it was us in our earlier avatar as Philips Lighting or as Signify. We invest heavily into our R&D setup, and we will continue to surprise and bring out propositions that are cutting edge for consumers in the Indian market.

We continue to bank on our innovation, sustainability, and product quality.