In managing a brand where does leadership come into play?
Leadership in any field would mean a person who is leading from the front. Kaff has been a very prominent name in India and since the time it entered the Indian market, it has been in a leadership position. Leadership expression of a person is reflected in everything – the company’s pricing methods, class of its products, positioning of the brand, marketing techniques and brand communications. Each and every aspect of a brand should ideally support the perspective of its leader. In this category in India, I believe that Kaff is definitely a leader.
Was there any particular challenge Kaff faced in the market initially? And what about the present?
We had a few challenges regarding the perception of our customers but that I guess is now slowly fading away. People’s aspirations now have gone up. They have started noticing aspects like brand value and lifestyle even in our category. So I’d say because of this shift, Kaff is not facing so much of a challenge. However, at present there is a big challenge that Kaff is facing. It is the lack of competition in the market and because of this we have become slightly naïve. I believe that if we have competition, we will shine more. See, it is a vast category. Such a large market cannot be taken care of by two of three brands. In India, we do have about nine to ten brands at present but they cannot sustain without proper communication or branding. These are big brands, there is no doubt about that but their approach to marketing is very subtle and not innovative. Where Kaff stands today, we can achieve any number we seek in the market. Our competition actually wonders how we are able to do this. The key is doing one’s job with intensity and passion. Your market knowledge needs to be absolute. This is no rocket science. You need to get your facts right. Kaff, a few years back, and Kaff at present are two completely different pictures. When we started we had a turnover of $15 million. Today, it’s around $35 million. I am not saying we have reached the saturation point. In fact, we have just flexed our fingers in the market as of now. The market has definitely slowed down because of the recession but business has not suffered as much. To achieve such success and sustainability, one can’t just sit in a room and plan. One needs to get down to proper micro-level planning. The market size has tremendously increased and we have a 28 per cent share in it. As a brand what values does Kaff stand for and what measures are being taken at your end at to let your customers know about them? Kaff stands for the excellence of its products and its customer friendliness. These products may look clumsy and bulky but actually they are quite user-friendly.
Our job is to let people know that their normal perception is not correct. To communicate this, we are trying to reach out to our customers using the right tools of communication. We have television commercials, magazine advertorials, radio broadcasts and we are even active on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, etc. The idea is to inform people that a brand has entered the Indian market, come and see the products and think twice before buying any other brand.
I think, we’ll soon have more outlets in India. We are looking more at multibrand outlets. We have our exclusive galleries where people can walk in and get the feel of the product. A lot times I’ve seen that people are not very rigid when they come to our showrooms. They never come with a mindset to only buy a hob or a chimney. I’ve seen people take away six to seven products at one go. But to get this done you need to make them feel comfortable.
How important do you think is the role of the people who are associated with your brand in its success?
Any wise company would know the true value of its people. We just plan, design and sell – everything on ground is driven by the people. Consumers too are very important aspect of any business. They are the decision makers. We might come up with anything but they are the ones who evaluate and buy our product, the ones who truly appreciate our efforts. Talking of people, even the dealers in our industry are pretty educated, quite unlike in other industries.
How bright do you think is your brand’s future in the market?
If you ask me I think we should reach $250 million in the next five years. The market will grow without a doubt either organically or inorganically. All we have to make sure is that our market share doesn’t fall or else there is no point in the market’s growth. From where I am sitting, it’s going to be a geometric progression when it comes to the growth of the industry as well as Kaff.
After a tiring day at office, how do you de-stress yourself?
My hobbies are like any other individual. I love watching movies. I even love singing and playing tennis. But the truth is that I don’t find my job tedious, I love it. In life everyone reaches a stage where they are not working anymore. I work for passion. When I joined Kaff, I adopted this brand as a child. I am giving it the same treatment as a father would give to his child. Same affection, passion, happiness at every success, there is just no difference. I love my job. My intention is to stay loyal till the very last moment. I might shift tomorrow but till that time I’ll stick to my morals. I took the reins of this brand when this brand wasn’t doing very well. Today it has everything. Why shouldn’t I be happy? I am like a farmer who stands in his field and thanks God for his blessings and the crop.
Even after having so much talent, India doesn’t have many brands which have established themselves at an international front. Why do you think is that?
We are a country of copiers. We first tend to copy products and technology and then we surpass the original brand. Whenever we discover or invent something, like the invention of zero, the world seems to cherish it more than us. From mobiles to televisions, we can create anything. India saw mobiles 15 years after they were introduced in the western world. Today our market size is much bigger than anyone else’s. We don’t make anything or develop something on our own. Everything is possible provided you have the zeal and the right approach. You need a lot of passion and understanding. Maybe on that front we are lacking. We don’t have a dearth of people, knowledge, ideas, creativity or anything else. We have a ready market, all we need are people who can pick up such opportunities.