Connecting with and catering to the expectation of consumers are mantras to success, says Anuj Jain.
Traditionally, consumers have always regarded their homes as a status symbol. However, homes as well as families have been changing over the past few decades. The rise of nuclear families and apartment living has led to an exponential growth of the realty sector and the demand for home paints.
Catering to today´s customer
Not only has the per-capita consumption of paint increased, there has also been an increasing demand for functional products and stylised finishes. In addition, the increased penetration of the Internet and social media has also had a significant bearing on the way audiences interact with paint brands. The empowered consumers of today are clued in to global trends. They demand products that are on a par with international standards. By extension, they also anticipate a certain quality of paint application and hassle-free painting process. Both these aspects are dependent on the painter, and are important as they contribute to how consumers perceive the overall painting experience.
At Nerolac, we have remodelled our outreach to cater to the expectation of the involved, vocal consumer better. The core of everything we do is to sequentially better our ´consumer connect´. Our brand promise of innovation and breakthrough technology remains the backbone of our offerings precisely to service this goal.
A good example of matching cutting-edge innovation to consumer needs is our recently launched Pearls Emulsion. An ultra washable paint, Pearls is powered by surface protectors that combine premium sheen with technical features like ´hairline crack hiding´ and ´stain clean-ability´. This makes it ideal for high traffic areas and homes with children. What´s more, all our premium products have ´low-voc and no added lead´ to make home painting eco-friendly. We are committed to delivering on Nerolac´s ´Healthy Home Paints´ promise.
For exteriors, we have introduced Nerolac Excel Rainguard, a unique weather protection system. Unlike the other exterior emulsions available today, Excel Rainguard is not merely a water repellent but a waterproofing emulsion! Additional innovations that make Excel Rainguard a truly premium product include the ability to keep homes 50 cooler and its elastomeric properties that help preventing cracks from developing on the exterior surface. It also assures low affinity for dust and anti-fading for elegant exteriors.
Another one-of-a-kind product is our Impressions HD 24 Carat premium wall coating. This paint provides an unmatched vibrant and bright finish for interiors. Myriad textures and metallic finishes compliment these colours to add that extra something to elevate home interiors from pretty to captivating!
A testament to the efficacy of this product in meeting consumer needs is the ´Impressions HD Story´ campaign we concluded recently. This campaign helped us further increase brand awareness and generate consumer testimonials for Impressions HD paints. We invited consumers to share their photograph against their walls newly painted with Impressions HD paint, and describe how the use of HD paint has enriched their lifestyle. This is in sync with the Impressions HD paint tagline: ´Nerolac Impressions ka HD colour lagega to ghar ke saath aap ka bhi Impression badhega!´ (Use Nerolac Impressions HD Colour on your walls and enhance your impression too!) We received a whopping 2,500+ consumer testimonials during this campaign despite it being an off-season activity. This allowed us to build credibility for the features of our HD paints as consumers were sharing real experiences through this platform. In fact, we were pleasantly surprised to find a few celebrity testimonials as well.
Trends and tie-ups
To make global trends in home decor available locally, we conducted a specialised Colour Trend Forecast Study this year. For the convenience of consumers, we translated these trending colour themes into palettes for interiors and exteriors. These are divided into two detailed style books, one for interiors and the other for exteriors. These are available with all our dealers and list shades to help consumers recreate and tailor any of these looks for their home. The exterior style book draws inspiration from the landscape of our nation and is aptly titled ´A Journey through India´, while the interior style guide is an exploration of our personalities and reflects our deep-rooted wants; it is titled ´Lifestyle Palettes´.
Another initiative we undertook, previously unheard of in the paint industry, was our tie up with Flipkart. Earlier, the only option consumers had to buy paint was to visit a brick-and-mortar shop. Hence, the tie up with Flipkart, in this age of e-commerce, was a great opportunity; one could order paint without leaving home! We also made available small adhesive paint panels, so consumers could test how a colour would actually look on their wall, in the lighting of that room, before finalising the buy.
Smoothening the experience
Apart from these smart steps to enhance our consumer connect, we are also constantly trying to alleviate the pain points in the typical painting process that plague consumers. As stated earlier, visiting a dealer shop is not something consumers look forward to. To remedy this, we launched Nerolac Colour Styles (NCS) and Impression Style Zone (ISZ). These outlets resemble high-end designer brand stores. They are planned tastefully and provide a homely environment that puts the customer at ease. This setting helps delight and engage customers at the stores. The idea is to provide the consumer with a touch-and-feel, comprehensive paint experience.
Experts present at these stores also help consumers holistically improve their home decor, and select paints in keeping with their overall vision for their home. This one-on-one interaction additionally helps consumers address queries, such as which colour would make a room look more spacious, and so on.
An innovation in experiencing the ´touch and feel´ of home painting with an element of fun for kids is our tie-up with Kidzania, a global indoor theme park for families. At the Nerolac establishment in Kidzania, children are allowed to role-play as painters, and parents can be rest assured that they will not have to worry about the effects of VOC thanks to our ´Healthy Home Paints´ offering. This experience quite literally transforms the way families perceive the painting process.
Further, considering that it is not always possible for consumers to visit our non-consumable stores (NCS) or impressions style zone (ISZ) stores, we are promoting two handy mobile apps. They allow the user to do everything from estimating the cost of painting with the paint calculator to using the virtual painter, an augmented reality tool, to click a picture of the room one wants to paint and try out different colours on it in real-time. Supplementing these apps is our social media presence that allows consumers to interact with us both formally and informally on platforms like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. This also contributes towards building brand recall and equity.
Finally, a crucial part of the home painting experience that is not easily controllable and hence overlooked by paint brands is interaction with the painter. This is an aspect consumers are immensely wary of. After selecting a trendy theme and investing in paint with a stellar finish, it is the application process that feels completely out of one´s control - it can make or mar the final look and feel of a space. Acknowledging that a great product needs good execution, we have been conducting workshops frequently for painters across India. Through the Nerolac Premium Painter initiative, we conduct refresher trainings for painters, and allow them hands-on practice in recreating the premium finishes offered as part of our Ideaz and Metallics range as well. While on one hand this ensures better service for Nerolac consumers, it also provides a skill level upgrade and, therefore, opportunities for livelihood enhancement for painters.
All these measures working in tandem have certainly helped strengthen our consumer connect. We believe they will prime Nerolac to continue to reach out effectively to consumers.
About the author:
Anuj Jain, Director-Decorative, Kansai Nerolac Paints, has a career spanning over 25 years in the company. He started his career at Kansai Nerolac Paints in 1990 as a management trainee in the sales function department. Thereafter, he shifted to Mumbai and quickly gained recognition for his contributions to the company´s growth.
He took over as the vice president, marketing and sales in April 2003, and later was promoted to Director-Decorative for the company in 2010.