Crompton Greaves’ foray into the built-in category is directed at the premium segment of the Rs 2,200 crore market. The company’s vice president for new business Nitesh Mathur tells me that this space is under-served to the extent of 40 per cent, and Crompton aims to fulfil several unmet needs of customers. He says that Crompton’s entry into built-in appliances will be disruptive.
Here’s why Crompton’s entry into built-in appliances will be disruptive.
#1 Crompton has identified unmet needs, such as lowering operating noise, automation of basic functions, comfort and simplicity in the kitchen, and hassle-free maintenance, and it has developed products to address them.
Our biggest technology shift in the chimney category has been towards BLDC motors, which are highly energy-efficient and extra powerful. This means they reduce the cost of ownership and offer significantly higher suction power.
Next is our redesigning of the internal structure of the chimney, which causes all the ear-cutting noise. Through innovative engineering we have managed to bring down the decibel levels drastically.
Another problem we have addressed is of inconvenience operating the appliance while cooking. Pressing buttons on the chimney when hands are wet is a big challenge. We’ve made the user’s life simpler by adding gesture control to our entire range so that the blower’s speed can be increased or decreased just by the wave of the hand. Another feature we’ve added is the smoke sensor, which automatically starts the chimney during the cooking process without having to use messy or wet hands.
The filter cleaning process, which till now was manual, has been made automatic. Customers have long been used to automatic defrost in their refrigerators, so why can’t this feature be available in chimneys we said? So we programmed our chimneys to self-clean the filters after every 30 working hours; they burn the dust that’s clogging the filters, and the ash simply drops down into the tray.
We’ve fitted the hob with a timer that switches off the flame at a set time, and a gas cut-off that protects against accidental flame failure. The switch-off timer helps when the user is in the last leg of cooking and has to rush off to work. He can plan a quick exit from the kitchen by turning on the timer, assured that the hob will switch off in a few minutes automatically.
Pyrolytic cleaning in the oven eliminates the need for manual cleaning, by achieving 450°C internal temperature to burn the cooking residue to ashes.
We believe that the average kitchen user is not interested in operating appliances using a smartphone. The crying need instead is to eliminate maintenance and increase leisure or work time. Our products are designed to do just that. We have addressed these unmet needs through engineering and innovation.
#2 Crompton is creating a service infrastructure that will deliver a superior installation and post-installation experience.
We believe that service is the product. Most failures occur due to poor or incorrect installation. To ensure that our installation support is as good as the product, we have set up seven academies across the country where we are continuously training our growing force of technicians. Not only our technicians, but we are also training service engineers who are on third-party payrolls, and in a way adding another layer of customer experience.
We want to make sure that the technicians are familiar with our appliances well before they arrive at the customer’s doorstep. The mandate is ‘the technician should not be seeing the product for the first time at the customer’s place’.
Besides, we want to embed the ‘first time right’ approach into our culture, so that there is no reason for subsequent visits due to faulty installation. Training is also important because appliances are increasingly becoming electronics-driven, and their maintenance requires additional skills and awareness.
#3 The company is offering a sublime product and brand experience to consumers, through a network of channel-partner-managed Crompton Signature Studios.
Kitchen appliances are performance products, so customers must perforce make informed choices. Our retail architecture enables them to make the right choice and enjoy the entire process.
Thirty Crompton Signature Studios are coming up across India, in Mumbai, Bengaluru, Delhi NCR, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Chennai, Pune, Ahmedabad, Cochin and Coimbatore.
The retail concept for the studio has been developed by Ar Lahari Shetty, who’s done an amazing job of bringing to life what we had imagined based on consumer insights. For instance, we wanted to demarcate the three appliance collections that we have developed for distinct market segments. Also, we wanted to communicate that we are there to make the lives of customers very comfortable and simple in the kitchen. And, we did not want our stores to have a boxy look; rather we wanted our customers to feel rejuvenated when they came in with their friends and family.
Accordingly, the studios have a very plush and global lounge-type ambience, quite like the lobby of a star hotel, where customers can spend time evaluating the products and fully review all their features in a live setting. The tranquil environment motivates them to absorb all the knowledge that our in-store consultants provide. This provokes discussions about recipes, kitchen layouts, lifestyles, etc. These stores are also equipped to help the designers discuss their kitchen designs via 3D presentations so that our consultants can propose suitable options and sort out the plumbing and electrical challenges.
I believe that with Crompton’s entry into built-in appliances we will be writing a new chapter on customer experience and retail.
#4 Crompton is building partnerships for a vast non-exclusive retail footprint.
Besides our exclusive outlets, we will also be present in multi-brand environments through shop-in-shop displays. We have a target of being present at 300 outlets within the next few months. This rollout has already commenced, and we have finalised partnerships with leading kitchen retailers including European brands, appliance dealers and modern retail chains. Our e-commerce play is also in place. We intend to be present on multiple digital platforms, and the relevant content for that is ready.
#5 Crompton is backing its new business with robust quality assurance, supply chain and logistics network.
The built-in appliances business is backed by Crompton’s core competencies in the fields of electronics and motors. The brand has for long been a market leader in the motor, pump and fan segments. This has given us the ability to listen to customers and develop products suited to local conditions.
Engineering is in our DNA, and we have designed each of our products for enhanced and robust performance. We have eliminated the need for AMCs, which is otherwise the norm in this industry and for many a revenue stream. Also we have filed patents for three of our innovations – the chimney auto-clean, auto-on, and hob’s timer-based switch.
We are backing our exclusive retail partners with a massive cross-country supply chain and logistics network, that is already in place under our dominating presence in the consumer durables market. We want them to focus on qualitative selling and taking forward our brand communication. Our logistics network ensures that they need not block their funds in inventories. These partners will typically invest Rs 20-40 lakh in setting up their outlets and displays.
#6 Crompton will launch an impactful marketing campaign to build awareness and communicate the brand’s value proposition.
Our marketing campaign is ready and will be launched once we complete our retail rollout shortly. We are taking an omnichannel approach, wherein we will leverage the reach of multiple platforms including print, outdoor and digital. We aim to communicate our value proposition, of a premium product based on consumer insights brought by a legacy Indian company.
Our aim is to be one of the top 2-3 players in this segment within the next three years, by when we see ourselves garnering a 10 per cent share of the market. Crompton’s entry into built-in appliances will expand the market and raise the penetration to double digits within the next five years.