Defunc to start manufacturing true wireless devices in India; the timing couldn’t be better, says the founder

Johan Wahlbäck says that by manufacturing in India, Defunc will be more competitive than most international brands that manufacture in China.

defunc audio India plans CEOJohan Wahlbäck started Defunc in 2015 (Snapshot)

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Just months after launching in India, Stockholm-based audio brand Defunc is all set to start manufacturing a sub-brand in the country to tap into the local market as well as shorten delivery times to the Middle East and Europe.

“We’re taking it step by step. The first step is to produce true wireless products specifically for the Indian market. Step two is to manufacture the two products for the European and Middle Eastern markets. And then depending on how things develop, we might move other types of products to be made in India,” founder Johan Wallbeck told the Indian Express during a visit to India last week.

Wahlbäck, who started Defunc in 2015, said in India it is working with a local partner to develop and manufacture the headphones, which will be sold under the Mondo brand. Wahlbäck is also behind the popular audio brand Urbanista, which he launched in 2010, and Kronan Cycle, which he founded while still a student in 1997.

“What’s interesting about India is that it is dominated by 70% local brands – Boat is the biggest with around 40% market share. I feel it has great potential to become an international brand that can take a niche in the true wireless market from the established local brands,” said the entrepreneur. Its confidence stems from the fact that Defunc is among the few international brands with a full range of true wireless devices from the entry level to the premium segments.

“By manufacturing in India, we are more competitive than most international brands that manufacture in China and pay 25% as duty. So we’re in a unique situation,” Walbeck said. “It’s not my intention to get bigger than Boat, that would be crazy. But to be able to capture a good portion of their market would be a reasonable expectation.”

“We know we have the right products and the right strategy to become the international lifestyle brand here, targeting the high-end audience as well as the mass market with manufacturing true wireless in India,” Wahlbäck said, acknowledging how big is the domestic market “The potential is really, really big,” he said, later emphasizing how if it weren’t for the huge growth reported in India, the true wireless segment would have shrunk globally last year.

Wahlbäck also hopes to leverage his great network of contacts with celebrity endorsements and influencer collaborations, which Defunc does in other countries as well, along with traditional marketing, social media and local partners like Amazon and Chroma. “It’s more effective than just randomly doing very generic marketing. We want to target our customers and be able to target them to the trade partners we actually work with.” The brand will initially focus on Delhi and Mumbai for impact.

“I’m willing to invest for the long term and we don’t really want to do quick fixes because we want to build a strong, sustainable, long-lasting brand. We see India as the most interesting market in the world right now… I think the timing to enter the Indian market could not be better than now.”

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