Educating channel partners is very important

Tell us about your current channel strategy.
We are primarily into consumer business. In order to reach out to a large
base of customers, we have started using a different approach. Since the last
quarter of 2008, we have started focusing on tier-2 and tier-3 cities and we
will continue to do the same this year.

We have organized channel meets in regions like Udaipur, Guwahati, Cochin,
Nashik, Ludhiana and others. Around thirty to forty channel partners were
invited to the meeting, through which we were able to develop relations with
them. We will be organizing the channel meet in seven to eight cities every
quarter. Furthermore, we will appoint new sub-distributors in the regions where
our current sub-distis are not present.

What kind of feedback and responses have you gathered from these
interactions with upcountry markets?
From our interactions with partners in these regions, we realized that there
are several areas for improvement that need to be taken care of before we can
increase market presence. For instance, upcountry channel partners face
prevalent problems of product availability, knowledge of products and
accessibility of newer products. As a result of this interaction, we instantly
appointed new sub-distributors in these regions. We also realized that partners
in small towns need education and training programs about the features of new
products. In many cases, they are not able to explain the advantages of certain
products to customers. This made us realize that educating the channel is a very
important way of increasing the reach to customers. Hence, we will make sure
that our partners have product literature and brochures.

Has economic slowdown caused a considerable impact on Norton?
Not really. The slowdown has not affected us much. Consumers are still
buying PCs and therefore, the flow of business has remained quite stable. Only,
people have become a little more budget conscious. Instead of buying an
expensive PC, they are managing with a standard model but they are not
compromising with data security, and this gives us a secured market place. But
yes, there are problems at the channel partners or distributors level, who may
face the liquidity crunch or credit flow.

Amrita Tejasvi/DQ Channels

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