Tiles & Design innovations
Somany, one of the leading tile company focuses on design and innovation. In an exclusive interview with Realty Plus (RP), Sanjay Kalra (SK), President- Sales & Marketing and Charu Malhotra (CM), General Manager-Marketing – Somany Ceramics Limited, talk about trends, innovations and products in-depth.
RP: What are the market trends for 2016?
SK: Tiles are a versatile way to add decorative yet useful embellishment. Greater utility, aesthetics and easier maintenance are some of the reasons for rising popularity of tiles in today’s fast paced life, whether it is a residential or commercial property. Leather, metal, textured and other non-traditional natural hues and surfaces are the prevalent choices in the tile market in India and worldwide. Another trend is the large continuous tile surfaces with minimum grout lines.
Moreover, Indian consumers opt for designs which reflect their urban lifestyle but are cost effective. They are looking beyond the traditional designs and are moving towards specialized tiles for different usage areas. Hygiene is also a concern nowadays. Therefore, low maintenance, hygienic yet stylish tiles are liked for kitchen and bathrooms. Taking the technologically driven route, 3D tiles add an additional aspect to the space. These tiles have started picking up in the market and are expected to experience an upsurge in the coming year.
International trends are getting adapted by consumers in India and as more Indians are travelling and have global exposure. For instance, globally, consumers are showing preference for aesthetically driven mosaic patterned tiles over the blandly printed tiles. The coming year should witness the like ability toward the same in India as well. The demand of eco-friendly tiles is also on the rise.
RP: What is 3D tile visualizer?
CM: The 3D tile visualizer aims to assist people with their decision process by providing with a digital feature over titles in different settings including kitchens, bathrooms and living spaces. This helps buyer to see the design it will actually look in a given setting & application.
RP: Brief on the product portfolio of the company?
CM: Somany manufactures a broad range of tiles (wall and floor) in various sizes, designs, textures &finishes across the widest product selection categories – ceramic wall and floor tiles, polished vitrified tiles, glazed vitrified tiles and digital tiles along with a wide variety of sanitary ware, shower panels, basins, faucets etc. One of the latest innovations is ‘Slip Shield’ floor tiles which have a surface coating to keep the coefficient of friction high even when the surface is wet and soapy making it well suited for frequently wet areas.
RP: Company strategies in terms of competition and tier II & III cities?
SK: Somany offers multiple platforms to customers to remain within their reach radius such as, highly equipped centres with wide range of tiles, sanitaryware and bath fittings. These stores, either dealer operated or company owned, across the country, brings enhance brand visibility and availability for the customers. Our website is also a major touch point which is regularly updated.
For countering the competition, Somany Ceramics has been investing in product innovation and increasing capacities across segments with more focus on higher margin segments. To cater to the dynamic sentiments of the consumers, the product offering includes tiles (floor tiles, wall tiles & vitrified tiles), sanitary wares, CP fittings and tile laying solutions.
The company is also focusing on increasing the footprint in the Tier II and III towns as most of the construction activity is going on there. These markets present a huge growth potential, given more people are switching to tiles for home & commercial application. Almost 70% of our sales come from these smaller centres which are now seeing growth due to coming in of government, commerce, educational, industry and growing population. Our wide distribution network in tier II & III cities in India is continuously on expansion mode.
RP: Future plans for the company growth?
SK: We plan to double the business in the next three years as we expect increasing new constructions and renovations of existing properties will boost the demand for ceramic tiles. In terms of product marketing, we want our products to speak for themselves.
Over the years, our strategy has been to outsource the production to smaller players and leverage our brand and distribution network for marketing and sales. We will continue with the asset lite model of growth and add more capacities by taking stake in the equity of smaller manufacturers who shall produce exclusively for Somany.