Ar Sanjay Bhatia of Pune-based RR Living tells Sourcing Hardware how his team addresses the concerns of price-conscious kitchen buyers, and what is trending in kitchens. His company markets the well known German brand Rational.
By Gyanendra Kumar Kashyap
How has the buying behaviour changed over the years, especially when it comes to modular kitchens vs carpenter-made kitchens?
As modular kitchens become the new style statement for the modern homemaker, more and more families are opting for them over carpenter made kitchens. Consumers are opting for modular kitchens as they have recognised the value addition they get from kitchen companies in terms of design, finishing, material selection, quality and service backup.
What is it that influences their buying decision the most; is it price, design, time, features, global/domestic brand, or any other factor?
Architects and designers, I think play the most important role in influencing the consumer. Once the consumer has decided, I think design and features play an important role in influencing the consumer.
What is the price point that accounts for maximum sale volumes? How do you deal with price conscious customers?
India still is a price sensitive market. I believe a price tag of Rs 5–8 lakh attracts the most number of clients.
While dealing with the extremely price conscious customers, we need to be cognizant of the fact that most of them are focused on value. They may find our prices high because they don’t believe they’re getting enough of the product or features for the quoted price. Before we slash prices, I generally recommend my team to first try and offer additional value. What does that mean? Well, instead of selling one item I say try selling two items as a bundled offering with a slight discount. This approach is normally very helpful, as the consumer is happy that they’re getting more for their money. In addition, I also gain an understanding as to what the competitors are offering the same customer.
Do you believe the customer should not involve an interior designer in the kitchen design process?
I think customers should involve interior designers. They bring out best in the modular kitchen seller, as they have a creative eye and understanding of aesthetics even as they understand the limitation of standardisation.
How do you convert a visitor to your store into a buyer? What services do you provide?
There are a lot of value added services we provide to our customers as they walk in. To convert a customer we always work on the following points:
Always emphasise on value
It’s great if you could start talking about the value that your offering delivers, before the customer can bring up ‘how much is it gonna cost me?’ Making the customer see how you can help them improve their bottomline and streamline the bottlenecks in their home project will do wonders in closing the deal.
Bet on benefits and not features
Our product might have over 30 features, but the competition might have more of them already. So matching the competition feature for feature can turn out to be a never ending game, and often unprofitable. I believe the better approach is to talk about benefits to the particular customer, on the basis of their lifestyle and family structure. By talking of benefits instead of features, we actually end up simplifying the lives of customers.
Profile the customer
Not every walk-in is a potential customer. In this business, there will be more window shoppers than those who actually are going to buy a factory fitted kitchen. Therefore, it’s important to be able to profile the customer before you get into the sales mode, because conversion matters and nothing else. So, make sure the customer really needs what you are offering and if they have the requisite budget.
Build your brand
I believe the truism that brands justify prices. So, when a kitchen seller builds a brand, a lot of questions regarding credibility, trust, quality, etc get answered. Standing out from the competition becomes easier.
What are the trends in kitchens with respect to colour, finishes and materials?
New trends I feel are matt finish in laminates, laquers and glass. People prefer non glossy finishes now. Grey is something a lot of them are going for. White colour has also been in demand, as the kitchens are becoming smaller and white makes them look bigger.
What about the hardware, what’s catching the fancy of the buyer?
Soft closing mechanism in drawers and hinges is a great fancy, and I feel most of our customers are going for them. We have made it as a standard part of the design. Baskets are fading out and drawers are taking their place.
Among appliances, which gadgets are finding most buyers?
I feel that the steam oven is picking up, and next in line is the warmer drawer.
What is the trend when it comes to counter tops?
More people are investing in solid surfaces and quartz materials. I see this trend building up, and it may lead to people slowly and steadily moving away from granite.