Kansai Nerolac forayed into the eco-clean paints segment in September 2010, with a campaign starring its new brand ambassador Shahrukh Khan. Anuj Jain, vice president, marketing & sales (decorative), and Sukhpreet Singh, general manager, marketing & sales, in a conversation with Campaign India's Arati Rao, talk about what's important in the marketing of paints these days.
CI: How has your marketing strategy changed over the years?
Sukhpreet Singh: I think if you look at the overall communication task, it's been in sync with the whole involvement of the consumers with the application of paint. If I could put it very broadly, from the fact that it was just a whitewash kind of commodity, to the fact that it became more of a lifestyle kind of purchase, to the fact that now we're trying to broaden the whole aspect into a better living environment. What we're trying to do now is move paint up from just decor to something that is actually about your living environment and health; it's a long journey that way, from a pure commodity purchase to a very evolved thing.
Anuj Jain: There was a time when people used to only look at whitewash. Then there was a time for colour. Then it came to products which could take care of problems, like cracks and so on. Now it's in the area of your living environment. The thing we believe now is that when you're at home or in the office, paint is surrounding you. Therefore, it should create a healthy environment around you.
CI: On Shahrukh Khan being the new brand ambassador for Kansai Nerolac.
Anuj Jain: The new task was to communicate the innovation of the paint, and when you have something new, a celebrity helps take the message to the people. With this new positioning of creating an environment that is safe for kids, Shahrukh's personality (because he represents healthy and happy homes), matched with the message.
Sukhpreet Singh: It's not about the 'face of the times'. We've always gone with spokespersons who've identified with leadership and change, with conviction. We're trying to move paint out of the four walls (paint advertising was always about good looking walls). What we're trying to say now is that paint can actually lead to a better living environment, whether it is in your house, outside, your locality or your city. It isn't about saving the world, but about you, your kids and taking care of your family. Our corporate line is also about transformation: 'Kuch change karein, chalo paint karein'. So that's why Shah Rukh was chosen; it wasn't about the Khan wars, or because another brand has a Khan endorsing it.
CI: How important is the on-ground shopper experience now?
Anuj Jain: In our opinion, there are two things about paint that are very important: one is the product per se which is getting into the area of low VOC, low smell etc. The other is retail, because paint is so important for homes, and something without which your home cannot take a new shape. It was traditionally sold in shops, like your typical hardware store, where the ambience isn't such that the family can go and spend time there; there is no experience. We've created an experience centre, and a smaller version of it called the Impressions Stylezone which we've started in the south, and Colour Styler - the attempt there is to create an ambience and environment where the family can spend time, and your queries can be answered better. This is just a beginning, we have to bring the higher involvement of the people into the choice of paint, so they don't leave it to the painter or contractor. Creating a big store can only solve the problem of a Lower Parel or Bandra, people from the whole of Mumbai can't go there. With a smaller model, it can reach more people.
CI: How important is digital then in such a scenario, where paint is about creating a higher involvement "look-touch-feel" experience?
Sukhpreet Singh: Digital helps in spreading awareness. We ran a contest on our Facebook page where we asked, "What do colours mean to you?", and there was a lot of participation. These may not be people who may be painting immediately but the brand's connection with the consumer is happening; they've been giving us a lot of ideas on green paints and what they want to change. So from the perspective of the brand's interaction with the consumer, it's very important. Also, it's important from the point of view of getting across our new message. Thirdly, digital also includes mobile. We can use technology to bring people closer to our offering: dealer locators, availability and so on