‘Dulux brand is about product innovations and consumer experience’

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Pushkar Jain

Pushkar Jain, Marketing Manager, Dulux, Akzo Nobel India

For Dutch paints major AkzoNobel, India is a very important market, where its brand Dulux holds the second position in the premium paints category. It hopes to strengthen the latter’s brand presence in the country on the back of product innovations, consumer experience activities and emotional communication strategy. The company invested Rs 109 crore in 2011 as marketing budget for Dulux and has also taken the digital marketing route to engage its TG. In conversation with Pitch, Pushkar Jain Marketing Manager at Dulux, AkzoNobel India, talks about the brand strategy that Dulux has followed to carve a distinct image for itself in the fairly price-elastic paints industry in the country, where most of the competitive players pursue similar marketing themes to engage consumers. Excerpts…

With so many brands under the Dulux portfolio, what is your positioning and segmentation strategy?
We have two hero sub-brands under the Dulux mother brand. Dulux WeatherShield, which is in the exterior space and the Duluxe Velvet Touch, which is in the premium, aesthetic interior space.

The Velvet Touch is a lifestyle product and is positioned for young-achievers and WeatherShield is more of a functional brand with a proposition of a five degrees cooler temperature if you use this paint. Both these are premium offerings. However, last year Dulux also launched two products in the mid-range segment; Dulux Rainbow, for the interiors and Dulux Promise, for the exteriors.

With several competitive players like Asian Paints, Berger, Nerolac and many more taking the emotional route, how are you looking to differentiate your brand and strengthen brand recall?
Brand recall is a function of brand distinctiveness. At Dulux, we are using a combination of product innovation led initiatives and a strong brand building focus, not just functionally but also at an emotional level. We are revolving around the emotional connect that we can play and the emotion that we want to build around is expression and colour, and to use colour to express one’s individuality. That makes us distinct.

The Dulux brand campaign that was running till a few weeks back, ‘Apne Rang Jhalakhne Do’ was wholly positioned around expressing yourself and your personality in the environment around you.

What is your primary marketing and communication focus in the Indian market?
Our marketing and communication strategy is embedded in two areas. One is the emotional role that we want to play around colour. Second is the strong, innovative edge that we bring in our products.

At the mother brand level, Dulux is about making that emotional connection, while sub-brands, WeatherShield and Velvet Touch, bring in the innovations. This is the construct of our strategy.

What have been the key marketing initiatives across the ATL and BTL front for Dulux recently?
We have been investing strongly around the mother brand, Dulux and using colour as an expression of individuality. We had our brand champions, Shahid Kapoor and Boman Irani as protagonists in a series of ads on how they interpret different colours and express their individuality through colours.

From the consumer engagement perspective, we have a strong point of sale initiative on the retail side called the Dulux decorator centres. One of the major issues is that while the manufacturers are selling paint, the consumer is actually buying decoration. These centres are modernised retail shops that also offer services like colour consulting and consulting on design and products. At present, there are close to 100 such centres in 10 cities.

How about digital marketing?
Our two major efforts on the BTL front are around the digital platform and colour collaterals. Giving inspirational colour collaterals is an area that we have a strong authority in globally and we can leverage on this strength; something that most other players will not be able to.

We have started investing heavily on the digital platform and have launched applications for mobiles and tablets. Dulux Colour Schemer is a mobile application that was launched recently that lets you load pictures and develop different colour combinations with proprietary Dulux pre-defined colour combinations. In the last few months, there have been 20,000 downloads for this application.

What has been the budget set aside for marketing?
Our total marketing and communication budget for the fiscal year 2011 was Rs 109 crore. As a policy, we do not give forward looking projections.

Dulux recently launched a CSR initiative called ‘Own a Colour’ last year. Tell us more about this.
Dulux embarked on an online fundraising initiative for UNICEF called ‘Own a colour’. It offers everyone a chance to purchase and personally own one of the 16 million colours available on the website, the proceeds of which go towards helping underprivileged children. We have risen close to 100,000 pounds in the last five-six months through this initiative.

Having been present in the paints industry for many years now, what are the challenges that you perceive for the Indian paints market?
The biggest challenge is around service. It is not just service delivered physically but also from a consumer experience point of view; the kind of experience that consumers expect from a decorated home versus a painting can. That is the gap we have to fulfill. The other challenge is around innovative products. Paint is a technology and products today can deliver a lot more than what customers are traditionally accustomed to. There is a need for all the players to not just communicate this but educate the applicator about the lifestyle value of these products.

What is the overall size of the paints industry in India? What is the share of Dulux in the same as well as the future expectations in this regard?
The paint industry in India is around Rs 16,000 crore. Dulux commands a 10 per cent share and is the number four player in the overall industry. However, in the premium segment, we hold a market share of 20 per cent and are the number two player in the industry.

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