One of the leading brands across the globe for Kitchen and Bath and Interiors, Kohler Co. has started functioning in India in 2005. The brand promises to have built from a singular level of exceptional quality. It also boasts of its innovative designs and enduring craftsmanship.
Mr. Salil Sadanandan, President, Kitchen and Bath Kohler Brand K&B S. Asia, Middle East & SSA talks with MI exclusively regarding their launches post-pandemic, and how it has affected the overall business. “The on-ground pulse suggests that most of our consumers are planning to move from an apartment to an individual house or planning to replace their products”, he adds. Salil Sadanandan has joined the brand in 2012 as a Managing Director – India & Sub-Saharan Africa. He leads the Kitchen & Bath business in India, developing and implementing strategies to exceed its growth, market share, and profitability objectives.
Let’s read the full interaction:
Q) How has the pandemic affected the lifestyle and luxury industry? What effect has it done particularly on your brand?
Salil: The markets have recovered well especially in the last quarter, and I am extremely optimistic about the future. The most positive aspect is the increased interest in homes over the last few months, where homes have become the new sanctuary and consumers are willing to invest. I am of the firm belief that luxury has a bright future ahead in 2022.
The on-ground pulse suggests that most of our consumers are planning to move from an apartment to an individual house or planning to replace their products. This augurs well for us from a retail sales perspective. Residential and commercial have also been very promising, and I see a bright future there as well.
Q) What are the new product launches post-pandemic?
Salil: At Kohler, we believe every shower is a canvas. From expert engineering and technical exclusivity, new and innovative ways to manipulate flow, temperature, and water have been brought to life. Combined with precision controls, the functional act of showering has become a highly personalized wellbeing experience. Captured in an unexpected aesthetic, the Anthem collection represents a milestone in showering design and overall experience.
- Anthem™ mechanical controls and valves offer elevated style and an intuitive interface.
- Acting as the control center for up to six water outlets within the showering space, Anthem™ enables complete command over the temperature, volume, spray experiences, and more—along with the ability to create and save pre-sets for truly custom experiences.
- The India artist edition balances artistry and craftsmanship with utility, Artist Editions® products celebrate beauty and creativity each day. The products honour the inherent beauty and potential of natural materials such as glass, bronze, marble, and ceramic, to create works of art using methods that have been passed down for generations. India’s diverse heritage of Painting, Textile, Architecture, and embroidery styles was a strong direction for exploration for the brand to create Quila – a limited edition ‘work of art’ celebrating India’s rich tradition of storytelling. This piece of art has been specially painted by Padma Shri Jai Prakash Lakhiwal – a well-renowned miniaturist of our times. The main thought to bring Quila to the Indian Market is to introduce art in bath spaces and through this exclusive vessel, we aim to celebrate the artist, the art, and the product.
Q) What are key trends you witnessed in this industry?
These days people are seen to use products that are more sustainable, that provide luxurious aesthetics, and are functional at the same time. A trend, which has seen a rise is that people are replicating the sophisticated style and comforts of a luxury resort in their homes by adding a touch of the chef-quality kitchen with commercially inspired designs. The success story of luxury bathrooms during the pandemic was driven by the increased focus on the home itself and within that on hygiene, wellness, and technology. In the post covid market scenario, we have seen a spike in demand for our range of bathtubs, steam generators, and intelligent toilets. Our luxury clientele refuses to compromise on wellness and hygiene, which has resulted in an increased focus on new categories and products.
ModernLife Edge – With a home being the new sanctuary during the pandemic, customers have looked at bathroom products, which help them create a wellness haven. To address this, we have also introduced ‘ModernLife Edge” which is the World’s Thinnest Bathroom Suite, pushing innovation in design and technology to accomplish the slimmest edge in the bathroom. KOHLER introduced this collection to provide an experience of minimalist design and vitality. Our ‘Modern Life Edge’ enabled luxury of space and ergonomics brings alive the magic of on-trend minimalism, fuelled by a rapid change in the way consumers view hygiene, design, and technology.
PureClean – Women today have a need for higher standards of hygiene, health, and wellness. They have varying hygiene needs and look for products that provide options and adjustability. With the Pureclean bidet seat, Kohler joins women on their self-care journey and facilitates intimate hygiene. This intuitive, innovative, and thoughtful cleansing bidet seat design can be fixed onto your current toilet, making this an instant wellness solution.
Q) What are your marketing strategies?
Salil: In today’s time, the requirement is to have a digital presence as consumers expect constant and consistent interaction with the brand, regardless of the place of contact. To build the credibility of the brand, it is necessary to ensure technical and business synergy between many sales channels. Thus, with a digital presence across various platforms and better e-commerce visibility, brands can connect to the consumers with a multichannel approach to sales that focuses on offering a seamless customer experience, be it online shopping or purchasing a product in-store. We look forward to a design and lifestyle upgrade for our customers so that they can enjoy a luxurious and intimate experience in their bathrooms.
Q) Is there any plan for eCommerce expansion in Luxury and Retailing with new channel partners?
Salil: Ecommerce is a growing and thriving channel for us, especially for the replacement market. We are adding new channel partners to continue to reach more and more consumers.
With e-commerce growing rapidly over the past several years and considering the advancement in technology, it has become the new way to shop and a boon for the growing retail business, both big and small. After analyzing the market trend, we have incorporated that into our business as well.
I strongly believe that is a future approach, and we are ready for it. Kohler India has experienced an increase in sales and brand loyalty by addressing various multi-channels.
Q) How are you seeing the business working post-Covid?
Salil: The markets are doing very well, and demand is at an all-time high for the brand. The impact of the pandemic on Kohler was significantly positive as due to a lot of pending construction projects during the lockdown, there was a pent-up demand on orders.
With everything opening after the second wave, people were seen moving into their new houses. Moreover, we saw a lot of customers wanted to renovate their bathrooms and kitchen post the lockdown either due to boredom or functionality. This led to an increase in the demand of orders for us and helped us in introducing more products. Also, people, these days are seen to prefer the concept of bungalows rather than flats. Through this, we were able to tap bigger projects, which ideally led to our rise in the pandemic.
Q) What are your business expansion plans?
Salil: We are planning to open more stores across India and have been reaching out to many people through various channels and platforms. The most positive aspect is the increased interest in homes over the last few months, where homes have become the new sanctuary and consumers are willing to invest. We are highly motivated by the increased focus on luxury bathrooms, hygiene, and wellness.
The future of the segment is promising, and we will soon be expanding our portfolio of intelligent toilets, Alexa-enabled products, artist Editions, and best-in-class showering products, to cater to the demands of our luxury consumers. We are also looking forward to our new portfolio with a focus on lifestyle products like mirrors, shower doors.