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Home is an integral part of our communication, says AkzoNobel’s Rajiv Rajgopal

The paint industry has a few players in the market, Dulux from AkzoNobel being one of them. To get an understanding about the industry BestMediaInfo.com speaks to AkzoNobel’s Director - India and South Asia Cluster, Decorative Paints

Archit Ambekar | Mumbai | May 20, 2016

Rajiv-Rajgopal Rajiv Rajgopal

The paints industry has been a very low involvement category industry in India. It has seen a drastic change in communication over the last decade. The communication has shifted from showing painted homes, both exteriors and interiors, to showing different qualities of the product in the recent past.

In order to get an understanding about the industry, challenges and how communication has changed for the category, BestMediaInfo.com caught up with Rajiv Rajgopal, Director, India and South Asia Cluster, Decorative Paints, AkzoNobel. Excerpts:

Tell us about your business.

AkzoNobel is a global business in the coatings and paints business. The industry operates in three different areas in decorative paints, performance coating and chemicals. All three areas are led by members who report to global CEOs. The priority of the business is how to kick in and make the brand stronger and to get the right focus of distribution.

What kind of presence do you have in India and globally?

India is the third largest market globally after China and the US. According to a Neilson report, the overall paints industry in India stood at Rs 35,700 crore in 2014-15. AkzoNobel is at No. 4, Asian Paints leads, followed by Berger Paints and Kansai Nerolac. The industry witnessed a 11.09 per cent Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) from 2011-12 to 2014-15. The Decorative and industrial paints accounted for 73 per cent and 27 per cent, respectively, in 2014-15.

In most of the other countries, we are no. 1 or no. 2, excluding a few markets where we are not in the top two. We are moving towards being a larger player.

What are the current market trends?

There are many drivers in the paint market. Over the last decade, a lot of things have changed in the paint industry.  One thing that we are trying to do is premiumisation. People want their house to look good and they want it painted frequently.

Repainting cycles of homes are getting shorter. We could also be a strong beneficiary from the economic growth of the country. The rise in discretionary income has been seen as a trend. The consumer is also looking at pollution-less homes and our product range offers that.  I think there are a lot of things that are rising.

Does the booming real estate play an important role in the growth of your business?

Development of cities does help our business grow. Real estate plays an essential role in our business. Clean cities are another factor that helps us.

Apart from trends, are there innovations in this space?

There have been a lot of innovations in this space in the last decade. Products and packaging have seen them. There are a lot of opportunities and challenges. Paints are now giving interiors of homes a better finesse. Some value added features were added. There has been a better sustainability for paints, compared to what they were earlier.

We have tied up with Bajaj to provide home insurance. We also have an app that allows one to view the paint on the wall via augmented reality. One could choose from the range we offer and see how their wall looks without actually painting it.

What are the challenges in this low involvement category product?

The category has seen challenges. Paints as you rightly mentioned is a low involvement category, that’s why as a marketer we bring in propositions that attract the consumer than the general offerings in the market.

What is your marketing strategy?

Dulux stands for international, for best in quality, for innovation and next generation. The last two areas is something we need to work on that is -- innovation and next generation. Our marketing strategy speaks about the four objectives of Dulux and bringing material impact to people’s lives.

Does a brand ambassador help in selling the product?

We have Shraddha Kapoor and Farhan Akhtar as our brand ambassadors. Farhan has been associated with us for four years now, while Shraddha has come on board recently. I think the brand ambassador helps us connect with our target group and that is what we are trying to do with Shraddha on board. Both of the ambassadors have added quotient to our brand.

How has communication changed for the category over the years?

The communication for the category has changed over the years. The user product has application inside the home, so home continues to be an integral part of making the commercial. The only difference in communication is on the use, whether it is exterior or interior.

Has the pattern of sales changed?

The pattern of sales has not dramatically changed. While earlier Diwali used to be the only time when consumers used to paint their homes, today they are looking at multiple occasions to paints their homes. But the fact remains that there is a spike in sales during Diwali.

Everyone is moving digital. What is your take?

We do have a good presence on social media. People like expressing them on social media and make better choices as it plays a huge role. Over the last few years, our marketing spends have increased on digital, while traditional media remains continues to be used.

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