Chandy speaks about the brand's journey and why he thinks Duroflex's product standards are unbeatable
The brand journey of Duroflex started in the year 1963 in a small unit in Allepey district in Kerala. Over these 56 years, Duroflex has grown to become one of India’s fastest-growing brands in the mattresses and sleep accessories category. The company has five manufacturing units located across India and is also the first mattress company to be ISO 9001 certified. In 2018, consumer-focused private equity fund Lighthouse invested $22 million in Duroflex as a primary capital to foster the company’s expansion plans.
In conversation with exchange4media, Mathew Chandy, MD, Duroflex speaks about the brand journey, product portfolio, strategic partnerships, marketing and media mix.
We had humble beginnings in the Allepey district of Kerala. It is always good to remember our roots and I was told that the machinery at the manufacturing unit was brought in boats through the Allepey canals. Duroflex as a brand has gone through a lot of ups and downs. Like any business, we too have adapted ourselves to the changing government and policies from time to time.
Our new story started around five to six years ago where we shifted our focus from being a traditional manufacturing business to running world-class factories. We have also re-oriented our entire business towards being more consumer-focused by understanding their needs. I still think we have done only 20-30 per cent of what we need to do in that space.
Duroflex, as a brand, is well known for quality, innovation and comfort. We design mattresses based on consumer needs and have perfected the art of manufacturing Hybrid Mattresses with spring, rubberised coir and foam. We also manufacture accessories like pillows, bed sheets, mattress protectors and other soft furnishing products, using good quality raw materials and state-of-the-art machines. Our stringent quality controls, the latest technology and constant efforts in research and development have enabled the brand to export our products to various international markets.
The last two years have been game-changing for Duroflex. We have created massive product differentiation in the market by reorganising our product portfolio on the basis of “consumer benefits” as against the category approach of “construction”.
These efforts were coupled with an increased focus on efficiencies across the board like creative communication strategy, go–to market strategy, supply chain, retail footprint, and consumer experience at the retail touch-point.
Today we are a Rs 500cr company with 30 per cent CAGR growth in the category. We have more than 3000 retail outlets in India in the form of multi-brand outlets, exclusive outlets and innovate experience centres in major metros.
While most of the brands have orthopaedic mattresses and some well-made, I can say with confidence that there are no orthopaedic mattresses that are better than Duroflex’s. Ours is scientifically tried and tested, medically proven and certified. So, while many may claim to be orthopaedic, ours is verified by a panel of doctors and it took us years, going back and forth and improving our products.
In 2017, Duroflex successfully launched a new completely online brand called Sleepyhead for millennials. Sleepyhead is one of the first to introduce the product concept of “mattress in a box” in India.
We collaborated with various recognised bodies, which resulted in highly innovative, differentiated products. We tied up with Foley Designs to create India’s first designer mattresses, transforming the aesthetics of the branded mattress category. We were the official Sleep Energising Partner for the IPL cricket teams Royal Challengers Bangalore and Chennai Super Kings. At a product technology level, Duroflex tied up with National Heath Academy of Orthopaedists, Partnership with Outlast to use NASA- accredited technology in our products.
We have never shied away from developing partnerships. I believe we grow from our partnerships. We work with a number of brands in the USA, Germany, Italy and Japan, to imbibe their global standards, especially of cost-cutting and innovations.
According to me, marketing is not what you communicate to a consumer. It is more about what you understand about them and giving a product which works. We do a lot of research to understand consumer needs.
I would love to say that we spend more on digital. We still need mass reach because the category is very under-penetrated. According to me, only 30 per cent of the mattress industry is branded. We still need mass adoption and awareness and for that, we need television and print media. I don’t think this trend will continue as India is shifting towards digital and OTT platforms. The section of India, which consumes our types of products is shifting. I believe on-ground activities are going to become far more important.
Our cue is 80 per cent towards traditional media. We invest a good amount in setting up exclusive experience centres. Overall, our market spends are capped at 10-15 per cent.
Duroflex, collaborated with India’s biggest fitness icon Milind Soman to help India sleep better. This initiative was largely driven through social media platforms and was promoted as the #7HourMarathon.
Our #EnergiseMom campaign was a social initiative for equal parenting.
The campaign was driven by a petition asking the Government of India to pass a law mandating compulsory two months of paid paternity leave to all new fathers. It sought to spark a discussion on the responsibility of fathers towards children. The petition was taken up in the Indian Parliament by a Tamil Nadu MLA, and it called on lawmakers to draft and pass a law mandating organisations to provide the option of two months paid paternity leave
Through our #Season Sleep to Perform, we wanted to raise awareness about the vital but often overlooked role of sleep during exam time among students. On World Sleep Day, amidst exam-season, we launched a video featuring Anil Kumble. We stuck an emotional chord with parents, showcasing the story of a sleep-deprived girl struggling to perform in exams. We leveraged Kumble’s credibility as a parent (his son was preparing for board exams) and coach to reinforce the message.
We are close to maxing out our capacity in South India. We will expand our Hyderabad plant and also will add more manufacturing capacity in the western region. We sell about 2000 mattresses per day but we want to increase that number to 3000 mattresses. With this in mind, we will be investing Rs 100 crore for the expansion plans.
(As published in https://www.exchange4media.com on , Dec 24, 2019 )