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In the centenary year of the Spain-based Roca Group, K E Ranganathan, MD, Roca Bathroom Products tells us how the brand managed to solidify its position in India and its latest ad campaign, ‘My Bathroom’


By Neeta Nair

Q] What kind of image has the 100-year-old brand strived to create in India?

Roca has been in India for a decade now, from 2006 onwards. I was part of the Parryware system that designed the JV between the two companies and brought Roca to India. Right from the beginning, its positioning was that of an international premium designer brand for elite customers. And then over the years, other premium brands like Armani Roca were brought in to further strengthen our portfolio of premium brands. Later, Roca took over the Parryware business. Until 2005, Parryware was considered the premium brand in India because back then, none of the multinationals had entered the market here in the sanitaryware space. After Roca, other international brands like Kohler came in, so Parryware had to take on a mass premium positioning. It was 10 times more volume-wise, and reached various customer segments - so it was obviously a mass product. Meanwhile, the Roca brand was built on a very solid footing of design, multinational appeal and very exclusive kind of collection. And the new commercial ‘My Bathroom’ reinforces this positioning of Roca being a top of the line product.

Q] Why did you choose an agency from Spain to create the ad meant to appeal to an Indian audience?

The commercial was conceptualized by Contrapunto BBDO Spain but we were clear about what we wanted in the ad. We thought it is important that an Indian actor be the protagonist of our ad, so that our audiences here can relate to it better. So we took the Indian actors to Barcelona and shot the ad in both languages, with different actors- one for Indian audiences and the other for the European market. The connect of the ‘My Bathroom’ ad is thus very powerful. We have tried to say that a bathroom is an extension of your living space, where people freely move around. We were able to do that precisely because we have a smart technology oriented designer product which takes care of the hygiene aspect too.

Q] What are the different mediums you are using to promote the ‘My Bathroom’ concept?

Apart from Television, we are using the Digital media and Print.

Q] Do you carry out any BTL activities to reach out to your target audience and the influencers like interior decorators?

We are the sponsors of the India Design Symposium which is attended by architects, interior designers and design oriented people. We also sponsor events like India Arch Dialogue where 10-12 architects across the globe showcase their pieces. So, we regularly work with architects and designers across the country. Roca also has an initiative called ‘The Think Turf’ where we go to cities like Bangalore, Pune, Chandigarh, Ahmedabad, and invite architects and designers to talk about --trends, consumer behaviour, contemporary designs, ageing and conservation related requirements in a bathroom.

Q] Can you give us a rough estimate of your marketing spends?

We normally spend about four to five percent of the total revenue of the company to create a strong pull for the brand. Out of this, 60%-70% is spent on using mass media and 30%-40% goes to the outlets because we want to create the best experiences for the customers who come to buy sanitary ware. We would like to give them a colourful and vibrant ambience to plan their dream houses even from inside a sanitary ware shop.

Q] At what rate is the high-end sanitary ware market growing in India and what kind of market share does Roca enjoy?

The total 3000cr sanitary ware market is growing at about 8-10% in volume and 11-12% in value. However the premium segment is growing at a faster rate, about 15% to 18%. In India Roca is present in sanitary ware, faucets and wellness categories; we have not yet launched Roca Tiles in India. In sanitary ware category, in the premium segment, Roca enjoys around 36% of market share. Roca has about 15%-20% market share in the faucets (premium) category. Actually, the total market size of 3000cr is a misnomer because a bulk of it i.e. 1800cr is the unbranded Gujarat market which is unorganized. Roca being a premium brand operates only in the 250cr segment. It is very popular in the institutional segments -- hotels, commercial buildings and high-end residential buildings.

Q] How about Parryware, what market share does it have?

Parryware which operates in a huge segment called mass premium enjoys 30% of the market share today. It’s the number two brand in India right now, Hindustan Sanitaryware being number one. And our plans are focused on getting Parryware back to the number one position now.

Q] You recently said your company is targeting a growth of 15% in the next couple of years and doubling sales by 2020. How do you hope to achieve that?

There are a couple of growth drivers for us -- the institutional segment is growing at a good pace, which is great and second we are expanding our retail footprint to 8000 outlets from 6500 outlets presently. We are launching several new designer products both in Parryware and Roca. We are launching exciting new colors in Parryware range because India still loves colors in their bathrooms. We are also doing a lot of consumer promotions across India which will make our brand more attractive to consumers


Q] What percentage of your global turnover does Roca India contribute to?

Roca India contributes to about 8%-9% of the global turnover.

Q] How different is the market for Roca in India vis-à-vis that abroad?

The way retailing is done as well as consumer preference is very different in India. For example, in U.S and Europe we have seen that influencers like architects and designers play a key role in decision making and the involvement of the consumer is at a very technical level, whereas in India it is more price-driven, even at a premium level people look for some kind of discounts. So, the Indian market has got to evolve with regards to appreciating the quality, design, and consumers’ ability to pay more for sanitary ware. Having said that, the interesting part is that we are getting a lot of enquiries from the Roca system across the world to buy seat covers, faucets, taps and fittings from India, because the quality standards here are far higher and cost competition attractive. All we need to do is to make sure that we make these products and then ship it to them abroad.

Q] What is that one marketing principle you use to improve the performance at Roca?

My fundamental approach to marketing is keep yourself occupied in the shop, never sit in office to understand what is marketing. Go to the market, and let the customers teach you what they want. Very interestingly nowadays the research game has shifted completely, with customers doing more research on the strength and weakness of brands, than marketers. By that logic it is better for the marketer to be in the market close to the customers and their requirements. For example, whenever I visit our factories I go to the shop floor and make a cast by myself. I often end up breaking a piece but that’s fine, at least it is giving me first-hand knowledge of my products. The culture of do-it-yourself needs to come to India. Bottom line I feel marketers should be in the market, that’s why it is called marketing.

@ FEEDBACK neeta.nair@exchange4media.com

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