Say bye to Kaanta Bai; robotic vacuum cleaners are here

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It is sheer agony for most Indian women when they have to deal with the tantrum-throwing maids, almost on a regular basis. To put a stop on this daily struggle with the hot-headed ‘Kaanta Bais’, Milagrow Human Tech recently launched a range of home cleaning robotic vacuum cleaners; the first of its kind in the country. The company is going aggressive with promotions and marketing initiatives to create a demand for such products in the country.

At a time, when technology is omnipresent, real life replicas of Rosie, the robot servant, from the popular animated series Jetsons, and our very own Chitti from the Rajnikant starrer movie Robot, are no longer far-fetched imaginations! Domestic robots, helping in daily household chores are no longer an anomaly in many parts of the world, and India is no exception, thanks to Milagrow.

With sleek and compact design, the three variants of the robots include RedHawk, BlackCat, and RoboCop, at a price of Rs 9,990, Rs 15,990 and Rs 16,990 respectively.

Robots: the new Indian housekeeper?
On the market for such innovative products in the country, Rajeev Karwal, Founder & CEO, Milagrow says that the evolving lifestyles of the Indian consumer and their growing similarity with those of the developed world has increased the relevance of domestic robots in the country. Greater women workforce, rising costs of domestic help and the greying population are some of the reasons that Karwal cites for the launch of the product in India.

He also adds that 25-30 per cent of the vacuum cleaning market is shifting towards robotics. He also estimates the vacuum cleaning market to reach 7 lakh units by 2015.

While such technology products are certainly a good bet because of their usability and ease of operations, they are still perceived to be the choice of a numbered few because of the high price tag.

Rajeev Karwal

Rajeev Karwal, Founder & CEO, Milagrow

Karwal, however, believes that the price range of the robotic cleaners is affordable while being aggressive, and the company has not followed a skimming strategy for the product. A company spokesperson goes ahead to say that research and price testing have led them to the conclusion that the Rs 18,000-20,000 range is a sweet spot for the Indian consumer, who is willing to try out new products that would give them value.

Milagrow’s home cleaning robots competes with the South Korean firm LG’s robotic vacuum cleaner, HomeBot, which is a premium priced offering at Rs 43,990. But more than a challenge, the presence of a well-established brand will help in expanding the nascent market.

Moreover, according to Karwal, the objective of Milagrow is not to enter the domestic cleaning segment but to establish the brand as makers of domestic robots. Earlier this year saw the company launch the world’s first robotic window cleaner, and it is nursing plans of extending its product portfolio and introducing an air purifying robot, massaging robot, and a cooking robot in the near future.

Brand strategy
Milagrow’s robotic cleaners are only for residential purposes and target all consumer age-groups in the urban households. While Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai, and Delhi are some of the high performing cities for Milagrow, it is also seeing considerable traction from Tier II and III towns, which contribute 20-30 per cent to the company’s overall sales of the product. Kerala is the most prominent in these towns and cities followed by Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan. On a holistic level, the company claims to have sold around 2,500-3,000 units.

Milagrow has been at the forefront of many such unique launches. It recently brought out seven inches TabTop, claimed to be the country’s thinnest dual screen tablet as well as a special series of tablets for women. However, in a space which is seeing an influx of players, the company still needs to cement its position and establish mind recall and connect. This, coupled with a new product innovation like robotic cleaners will require aggressive marketing and communication initiatives to draw consumers.

Media & marketing strategy
Milagrow has been pursuing a selective marketing strategy, and with 8-10 per cent of its revenue devoted towards marketing, it is looking at the print medium, especially magazines to create awareness among its TG.

Karwal is of the opinion that these robotic products appeal to consumers with an influential and aspirational mindset, and magazines help in selectively targeting such people. “Magazines are read by people who have a certain demographic profile and have the time to browse through the ads. We have tie-ups with some of the leading magazines of the country,” he says.

The brand is also getting aggressive in its marketing campaigns and positioning the product as a gifting option for upcoming festive season.

In terms of its retail strategy, besides tying up with large format retailers, Milagrow is also selling these robotic cleaners through online retailers like flipkart, naaptol, and many others, and close to 30 per cent of its sales are coming through the online route.

One of the biggest challenges that the company is facing is to develop the skills of the retailers for selling such innovative products. To counter this, Milagrow is creating demo films, which can be used by these retailers.  They can also be used for conducting product demonstrations by company representatives across households.

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