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It's all about gifts & winning hearts

September 04, 2004

The way to the Indian consumer's pocket is through free gifts. Now, that's exactly what the Rs 40-crore (Rs 400 million) chimney and hobs company, Faber Heatkraft is doing.

On August 29, it launched a nationwide campaign called Chappar Phaad Ke Jeeto. Gifts worth Rs 5 crore (Rs 50 million) including cars, gold, microwaves, projection televisions and washing machines are being given away as prizes on the purchase of any Faber product costing Rs 5,000 and above. The company plans to continue the campaign till the end of the festive season.

Nearly 60 per cent of Faber's sales currently come from the top 15 cities including metros and mini metros. Having entered India in 1997, it has notched up a turnover of a mere Rs 40 crore (Rs 400 million).

This is Faber's attempt to penetrate smaller towns and cities. Says Prahlad Bhutada, managing director, Faber Heatkraft, a 75:25 joint venture between Faber SpA of Italy and Pune-based Heatkraft, "Through this campaign we hope to increase sales in smaller towns and cities."

Its main products are kitchen chimneys, gas hobs and and cooking ranges. The chimney market in India is currently around 125,000 units and is growing at 30 per cent to 35 per cent.

Says Bhutada, "The chimney is no longer seen only as a lifestyle product, but has now become a utility." Faber, which enjoys a market share of nearly 55 per cent in the category, expects growth of around 70 per cent this year.

Faber is spending nearly Rs 10 crore (Rs 100 million) on this multi-media campaign including exhibitions. It has doubled its ad budget to Rs 14 crore (Rs 140 million) from last year.

Faber currently retails from 1,500 retail outlets and 30 exclusive Faber Galleries across the country. By March 2005, it expects to open another 25 showrooms and have the products available in another 500 outlets.

Unlike most other kitchen products, the chimney is retailed through six different types of outlets. It is sold at hardware stores, sanitaryware stores, white goods outlets, stores selling small kitchen appliances, stores selling modular kitchens and also through direct marketing.

Faber recently entered into a distribution deal with Whirlpool India to distribute the Whirlpool range of chimneys, hobs and cooking ranges from December.

"It will give us a chance to use Whirlpool's distribution network of white good retailers, while Whirlpool can sell their products through our retailers in all the other categories," says Bhutada.

Watch it

So you're all dressed up and wanting to make a style statement? Looks like you've got everything right. The clothes, the footwear, the accessories but ever looked at the wrist?

Egana India, a wholly owned subsidiary of Egana Goldpfeil -- a $600 million group from Hong Kong has launched Mexx and Carerra range of fashionable watches for the Indian market.

"Watch in itself a fashion category," says Biren Vaidya, managing director, Egana India. The company has in the past introduced Peirre Cardin, Joop and Esprit and according to Vaidya these brand of watches have got tremendous response from India.

As far as the Mexx range of watches is concerned there are distinct styles for both, men and women. The range is priced between Rs 2,000 and Rs 5,500 and will target the age-group of 18-35 years.

"People want to co-ordinate their watches with their clothes and with the 'Club' line from Mexx, we are hoping to receive a lot of success. While Vaidya admits that the apparel line from Mexx failed to make a mark in India, it'll be the watches that will make Mexx a brand, a force to reckon with.

"Peirre Cardin is an apparel brand too but ever since we introduced these watches in India people seem to remember it only as a watch brand," says Vaidya.

While Mexx is being targetted as fashion-wear for the younger generation, Carerra on the other hand is considered as a sports watch. "Mexx is the perfect answer for all those who live and dress in a stylish and contemporary way," says Vaidya.

The company's distribution has been quite offbeat. "We didn't opt for any watch boutiques. Instead we went to lifestyle stores, music shops and high-end stores besides watch showrooms that promised to give our watches ample space," explains Vaidya. He's confident that the two brands, Carerra and Mexx will do extremely well. "We're creating a world of watch fashion," he adds.

Information on call

There's no better example that customer is king. For the first time, an oil company is making it easier for customers to access information about their dealings with the company.

Indian Oil Corporation is going all out to woo its customers and has started an integrated voice response system for its bulk dealers, institutional buyers and the reseller network.

Till now IOC customers had to manually follow up at the supply locations to find out about their order status. It has a distribution network of over 21,000 sales points with 168 bulk storage terminals, installations and depots, 94 aviation fuel stations and 87 liquefied petroleum gas plants.

Customers are required to make advance payments for their orders. In the past apart from physically going to the location, calling up or writing letters, there was no other way to find out what the credit balance or supply status was.

Now, the customer has to just call up the toll free number from anywhere to find out what the credit balance or supply position is. The system links all the supply locations and is updated every minute. Says N G Kannan, director- marketing, IOC, "The future belongs to the best service provider and our customers will find this service convenient to use."

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