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A Royale Affair


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Q] How challenging is it to retain the leadership position for Asian Paints, year after year, in an increasingly competitive paint market?
First, we are consistently investing in our brand. Second, we are constantly changing and adding more dynamism through innovations, and diversification. Also, we are always listening to the consumer. I always speak of one quality with respect to Asian Paints, and that is ‘inimitability,’ which means doing things that people possibly cannot copy very easily. Therefore, you are always ahead in terms of the work that you are doing.

Our offering, Royale Glitz combines the ultra-luxury paradigm with a sophisticated classic ultra-sheen look. Today we see that Indian consumers are not awed only by looks, they want the product to have some kind of substance. Royale Glitz has resilience, durability, and crack-free performance. Our international textures are being launched along with it, which gives it a flavour of a full décor meant for the uber luxury customer.

Q] You have launched a TVC for it featuring your brand ambassador, Deepika Padukone, and a surprise package – Karan Johar. What made you pick the latter? And if Karan is facing the camera, who is behind the lens this time?
Karan has always managed to grab eyeballs. We felt that it is a great combination in terms of getting an accomplished director on the sets along with Deepika because the storyline is about the eyes of the director. Who could be more accomplished than Karan? He adds that twist to every conversation.

Abhinay Deo is the director of this ad, who had earlier worked on our very successful Ultima campaign. He then moved on to direct films such as Delhi Belly, Game, Blackmail, and more. He has a classy approach with regard to commercials, and did an outstanding job. An architect by profession, he was able to help create and design a sophisticated set. He got the best out of the two superstars, managing to direct the director in Johar and not just Deepika.

Q] Deepika in 2014 was appointed to endorse Royale Play, a younger and dynamic brand. Now she’s endorsing Royale Glitz, a more sophisticated luxury brand. Tell us about her evolution as a brand ambassador with Asian Paints and how she has gone on to symbolise different products of the company at different stages during her career.
Deepika is very versatile, just look at the genres of movies she has done. Royale Play was a younger, more playful and enthusiastic brand that we roped her in for, and then graduated with her onto Nilaya, our wallpapers designed by Sabyasachi. She optimised that communication by bringing the contemporary Indian heritage forward in an impactful way. Now we felt that as part of the architecture, extending Deepika to Royale takes the brand to another level of sophistication. Today, she is the face of a lot of international brands, which speaks about the class and stature that she brings to the table.

Q] Asian Paints has in the past collaborated with agencies like Contract, Ogilvy, McCann, etc. What is it that you really look for when you pick a particular creative agency partner for a commercial?
We have been working with Ogilvy for decades, and then we moved on to McCann and other agencies. One of the things that we look at is how strategic planning aligns with creative prowess. When it comes to creative zeal in taking the brand to the next level, innovation is a guiding factor. It’s necessary for a brand such as Asian Paints to come in from both innovation and consumer insights points-of-view. In some of these agencies, there is a strong integration of planning and creativity, and they do an outstanding job of giving us creatives, which propel the brand in a new direction.

Q] What is the marketing mix for this campaign?
We are looking at big media properties to maximise reach because it is a big campaign for us. For e.g., in-film promotion with Jawan, tapping cricketing properties by partnering with the Asia Cup and the World Cup, a signature impact property as a spotlight wall with KBC, etc. Beyond that we have a whole lot of 360-degree efforts, such as Print and Outdoor, and below-the-line measures, which will help us make our presence felt across the length and the breadth of the country.

Q] Past two years have been great for the paint industry. It’s a Rs. 70,000cr market today, but the opportunities here have also made it lucrative for some of the top Indian multinationals like Aditya Birla Group (Grasim), and Pidilite, which have just entered the paint market. Are you already seeing an impact on your market share?
We’ve always seen competition in this industry, in fact many international players, including the global leader, Sherwin-Williams made a foray into the Indian market. They tried for seven-eight years, and then went back to where they came from. We have also seen some of the biggest corporates from the cement and steel industry venturing here in the last three, four years. We feel that the industry is big enough because the per capita consumption of paint in India is very low compared to the west. At Asian Paints, we have a certain kind of brand equity and supply chain strength that we stand for. We look at innovation with products and categories. This industry is growing at a strong rate, and if you are not 10% or 15% of the market, you are no one.

Q] With inflation and soaring oil prices, production costs are likely to increase for paint companies, as per experts. Is there room to escalate prices in the face of such fierce competition?
For the Indian audience, value for money is a strong proposition. At the same time, we have the highest share in the premium and luxury segments. We are very clear that today when we sell in the market, we sell almost at 10% to 15% premium than any other player, and this strength comes from brand equity. So, we are not worried that we’re going to get into a price competition. The brand has enough muscle to straddle the premium pricing. Secondly, for any new player who comes to the industry, it is difficult to challenge someone like us in the premium luxury space, you can only do that in the value segment which has the pricing and discounting challenge.

Q] The paint companies entered the adhesive space long ago, and now the biggest player there is entering your market. Parallelly, you are diversifying and have recently set foot in the home decor space. What percentage of revenue are you expecting from this lifestyle home segment at this point?
The luxury market is growing extremely well, and we see that possibly by the end of next year, it will be almost about 8.4bn USD strong. After the pandemic, people have become willing to spend in order to live a good life. So we decided to shift our gear from having a share of surface to a share of space within the homes. Now we are not just about the four walls, we are also in between the four walls. We already have about 44 beautiful home stores today across the country, these are strong, ‘phygital’ stores where we have a physical layout, plus digital technology that concentrates on the visualization platform. We have accelerated our footprint into all the categories, whether it is bath, kitchen, lighting, furniture, furnishing or rugs. It’s a huge foray and is in the inimitable zone, it complements the coatings business because we are now part of the consumer home decor cycle. Home Décor comprises 4% of our overall decorative business currently, and we are clear that by the end of the financial year 2026, it will go up to 8 to 9%.

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