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BrandSutra

Updated on: Monday, December 06, 2021, 07:32 AM IST

Concept of individualization has come into the bathroom space: Gaurav Malhotra

Gaurav Malhotra |

Gaurav Malhotra |

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GAURAV MALHOTRA, MD, India & Regional Lead, Key Hospitality Accounts, Asia - Hansgrohe Group, talks of the company’s mission to deliver human-centric water experiences through its premium brand Hansgrohe and luxury brand Axor, and plans for multi-category expansion in the near future.

How has Brand Hansgrohe fared in the India market? Give us an idea of the company’s growth and profitability over the last five years and how it has negotiated the COVID-19 crisis.

Hansgrohe has been in India for almost 20 years now. Initially, our products were being marketed by Jaquar in the country. It has existed as a full-fledged subsidiary – Hansgrohe India - only since 2012. After a preliminary phase of setting up operations, establishing the right platforms and expanding retail footprint, we have seen phenomenal growth in the last 3-4 years. India is now a part of the group’s strategic five growth markets in the world.

With impressive team spirit, Hansgrohe emerged strongly from the pandemic-induced crisis. Globally, the Hansgrohe Group finished the 2020 financial year, generating sales of 1.074 billion euros. Through the efforts of HQ and our colleagues in Germany, we were able to keep our German production facilities open and maintain normal operations. We came out with flying colours and were probably one of the few brands that managed seamless availability of its products.

What has been the uptake for your luxury brand Axor in India? What are some recent creations for luxurious bathrooms?

Since its launch in 1993, Axor has been guided by three core values – avantgarde, personalisation and perfection in bathroom design. Axor products incorporate cutting-edge developments in water-related design, water conservation and the way water feels on skin. It has an impressive product line comprising more than 2,000 items in styles ranging from classic to modern to avantgarde. It offers exclusive Axor FinishPlus surfaces, and the Axor Signature service for individual needs of customers who want a genuine one-of-a-kind product. New launches include the elegant Axor One complete bathroom collection, with an interaction mode that conserves water; precision make Axor Citterio mixers for wash basin, bath or shower, with an expression of Italian neoclassical architecture.

What does the bathroom of the future look like? Tell us about product diversification and technological innovations at Hansgrohe. How much of it is dovetailed into meeting the unique requirements of the India market?

Indian bathroom spaces have seen a major transformation year upon year. Specially after the pandemic, people are considering the bathroom space as a sanctuary to rejuvenate and relax. With a hybrid work system still in place, people are spending more time at home and thus, want to add elements that will make them feel good at home. The concept of individualization is in focus. Customers are inclined to use touch-free products in their bathrooms. At Hansgrohe, we offer path-breaking technologies like ‘Select’ allowing customers to use bathroom fittings like faucets or showers with minimum contact, at the touch of a button. Our range of touch-free faucets optimize hygiene, cleanliness and water-saving through their intuitive, tech-driven designs. They come with EcoSmart technology that uses 60% less water than conventional products, without any loss of comfort. This reduces energy costs, and conserves valuable resources. One of the latest additions in our product range is RainTunes, in which water, video, light, sound and fragrance combine to create an all-embracing multi-sensory rush.

What are the major changes that you observe today with regard to consumer behaviour in the category? What sort of a shift do you foresee in the near future?

There has been a significant rise in sustainable buying by the consumer. They are looking for products and services that minimize wastage but are high on quality and efficiency. Consumers today are aware of depleting resources and unethical practices by brands at their manufacturing units. This is bringing in a trend towards adoption of more ethical practices by companies and brands. At Hansgrohe, most of the products feature environment-friendly technologies like EcoSmart and CoolStart to automatically reduce water and energy consumption in bathrooms. The group is committed to operating sustainably and acting responsibly. Today, we strive to protect the environment at all our factories, weigh up opportunities and risks, and draw up action plans to improve our environmental performance, reducing harmful environmental impacts. By 2022, all Hansgrohe sites with all production facilities, subsidiaries and sales offices worldwide are set to be climate neutral with regard to direct emissions, as well as energy consumed at the sites. For 2030, we aim to achieve climate neutrality for the entire company, including products.

Bathroom and kitchen spaces have evolved as a lifestyle zone beyond functional needs, leading to intense competition. How do you make your products stand out vis a vis competition? What is your advertising and marketing strategy?

At Hansgrohe, we work with world renowned architects and designers from across the globe. So, we get a fair exposure to different cultures, their needs and their requirements. As a result, the products we create can offer sensorial gratification to a diverse set of customers. At the same time, keeping customers’ needs at the center of our product design, we manufacture futuristic products.

We firmly believe that marketing is not just about pushing the product in the market, but also meant to create awareness and inform consumers. The pandemic has changed the way we shop and choose things, but the experiential element is something we all cherish. Realising the need of the hour, we have made our experience centre - Hansgrohe Aquademie – online. A virtual tour to the iconic experiential property in Germany gives customers a first-hand experience of our product offerings. In just a few clicks, customers, trade partners, architects and interior designers can experience the products of Axor and Hansgrohe brands first hand. Our flagship showrooms have live areas wherein customers can experience the products in a live setting and experience the water flow and product design before making a purchase decision. To connect even more with the Indian audience, Hansgrohe participated in Ace Tech this year in Mumbai, where new launches of Hansgrohe and Axor were displayed in a real-time setting for the first time in India after their global virtual launch.

What are your short-term and long-term priorities for the brand in India? What would you like to call out as significant opportunities ahead in terms of growth, diversification and brand strategy?

Currently, Hansgrohe India is majorly into faucet and shower categories, but we are evaluating the possibility of expanding with multi-category product launches in the short term. We are also focusing on building a strong distribution footprint across India and connecting with the architecture and design fraternity at a much closer level. In the mid-term, as scale of operations increase, we will centre our attention on building a supply chain model that enables us to provide services with lower lead time and higher customer satisfaction.

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Published on: Monday, December 06, 2021, 07:25 AM IST
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