Come June, the Indian kitchen and cabinet industry’s most awaited meeting-of-minds event – India Kitchen Congress – will be held in New Delhi at The Lalit. The 7th edition of IKC, which has over the past editions proved to be a venue for brewing innovative ideas, nurturing business partnerships, setting trends, and giving direction to the industry, will again be filled with vibrancy
By Gyanendra Kumar Kashyap
On 14 June The Lalit New Delhi will be home to people who have been over the years shaping the Indian kitchen and cabinet industry. Be it manufacturers, e-tailers, start-ups, retailers, realtors, franchisees, component suppliers, architects, interior designers, investors or marketers, they all will be there to be part of India Kitchen Congress (IKC) 2019. This year, the theme of the 7th edition of IKC is ‘The Big Leap’, and it aptly encapsulates the zeal of the stakeholders and their preparedness to see the industry grow with greater momentum. The day-long conference will consist of panel discussions, keynote addresses and presentations, besides networking breaks for business discussions. The conference sessions have accordingly titled the Big Picture, Gameplan, Skilling for Future, CEO Roundtable, and Innovation.
“India Kitchen Congress has been a good platform for the industry. It provides an excellent opportunity for kitchen players not only to share knowledge but also the nuances of the business. As has been its trademark for the last six editions, IKC has dedicated sessions that help understand new trends in the industry. This, for the industry, goes a long way in helping to deliver the best value to the customer,” says A K Goel, managing director of Hettich India. Geol has been a regular at IKC, and his keynote addresses and insights have traditionally been a big draw.
Hettich India is again the principal sponsor for this edition of IKC, while Furniture and Fittings Skill Council is the skill development partner.
Highlighting the role that innovation is playing across industries, more so in the kitchen sector, founding partner of The Growth Labs, Alok Agrawal, says, “IKC is a valuable platform for industry players to come together, share thoughts and views and learn new developments.” He adds that with the advent of modular furniture, Indian kitchens are getting modernised. “The entire kitchen market is getting organised, and many high-quality fitments and appliances are making their way into Indian homes via the kitchen. This presents a great opportunity for industry players. The India Kitchen Congress is bringing all developers under a roof to build a robust industry of the future,” he remarks.
On the issues that are discussed at IKC, Goel says, “Not only does the platform dwell upon different roadblocks being encountered by the kitchen industry, especially considering its nascent stage, it also offers solutions by the subject matter experts. With each passing edition, the expectations from the industry are just growing higher. Over the period it has the potential to become a significant platform for interaction by different constituents to improve the value chain.”
Looking forward to the 7th edition, Goel avers that the most significant takeaway for delegates attending IKC 2019 should be an answer to ‘how to deliver value to the end customer for his dollar.” Goel reasons that the entry of new players like IKEA, and popularity of e-commerce platforms, has given an unprecedented boost to the industry by bringing in ease of purchase on the one hand and multiplicity of options on the other. The trend, he believes, is likely to continue. “I am indeed looking forward to listening to speakers who are using e-commerce and digital platforms and are taking the lead in the business.”
Innovation and design-led thinking will be one of the key discussions at IKC 2019. Agrawal, who is deeply involved in helping enterprises infuse technology and innovation into their businesses, has this to say, “As we move from unorganised to a planned industry status, innovation will be the key to delighting customers.” He explains that multiple trends are driving change in consumer behaviour, and technology is a big driver of change; it is fostering automation and easier access to information. “New ways of delighting the customer through the use of IoT, augmented and virtual reality, and artificial intelligence are emerging. The key concern of the customer is to cook more healthily and enjoy a better lifestyle. How are we helping the customers achieve their personal goals should be our primary concern. And we can do this successfully by incorporating innovative solutions and technology into our processes and business models. I believe that IKC can help the kitchen industry become aware of these challenges, which are actually opportunities.” Agrawal will be presenting a case for innovation at IKC 2019, besides chairing a panel discussion. “Business opportunities in the industry are opening up at a rapid pace. However, it is in the hands of the players to steer the course of their industry. Innovative thinking and new age technology can accelerate the pace of growth.”
IKC 2019 comes at an opportune time; the new government at the centre will be in place by then, growth-oriented industry policies will have been crafted, and the industry will be rightly poised for ‘The Big Leap’. The modular furniture market in India will keep on growing at a rate faster than the past, says Goel. He reasons that people are paying more attention while buying the furniture and focusing on aspects such as efficient use of space, aesthetics, functionality, and ergonomics. “These are exciting times for the industry,” asserts Agrawal, adding that he foresees rapid adoption of innovation in areas of healthy cooking and conveniences. “People prefer to cook with less effort and look forward to tools which can automate some of their tasks; and for sure, Internet access in kitchens via voice and touch-enabled devices is not too distant a reality,” he says, referring to innovations that one may get to see in the kitchen and home décor industry in 2019-20. He elaborates that Internet-enabled (IoT) devices would help monitor the health of appliances and provide safety; IoT would also enable devices to provide information when supplies run low and order products online via e-commerce sites. “Robotised automation of tasks is not far behind. We already have robotised vacuum cleaners. Voice-enabled devices would make daily tasks easier. Possibilities are just opening up; with open innovation programs, manufacturers can add many more products and services to their offerings to grow the business.”
The day will also see the recognition of people, ideas and innovations through the India Kitchen Congress Awards, which coupled with the flow of new ideas and compelling business propositions, will make IKC too good an event to be missed.
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