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Mathew Chandy, Managing Director, Duroflex and Sleep Evangelist
Mathew Chandy, Managing Director, Duroflex and Sleep Evangelist tells us what inspired the brand to launch a new store.
brands

How Duroflex managed to expand its retail presence during the lockdown when the brandverse shied away from it

Mathew Chandy, Managing Director, Duroflex and Sleep Evangelist tells us what inspired the brand to launch a new store.
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  • In our latest series, we talk to brands about how they have been marketing during these adverse times, the things they have learnt and how they are preparing for the somewhat uncertain future.
  • Mathew Chandy, Managing Director, Duroflex and Sleep Evangelist tells us what inspired the brand to launch a new store amid a nationwide lockdown and its intention to expand its retail footprint further in the country.
  • He walked us through the brand’s overall marketing strategy starting from the tone it decided to use in its communication to how it’s gaining consumer trust through social media to why influencer marketing turned out to be its favourite tool amid lockdown.
Come what may, your sleep should never be compromised. A proper sleep routine makes it easier to cope up with stress, handle anxiety, concentrate and stay optimistic. This is exactly what Duroflex reminded its consumers when they were overwhelmed with fear of the virus and uncertainty looming around. It offered emotional solace by empowering its consumers with the right information they needed to maintain a good sleep hygiene via its digital platforms. It recognised the consumer sentiment in the market and opted for an optimistic tone in its messaging. To further help them keep anxiety at bay, Duroflex organised Sleep Therapy sessions and launched a campaign called ‘Better Tomorrow.’ E-Commerce, digital and social became a key part of its marketing and communication strategy.

However, while the whole brandverse was shifting its marketing monnies from traditional to digital mediums and shut the shutter of their stores, Duroflex managed to pull off a store launch in Bangalore. This decision came after the brand saw its website visits quadruple during the lockdown. Now, it is looking at further expanding its presence in metro cities.

Mathew Chandy, Managing Director, Duroflex and Sleep Evangelist further shared with us which part of the country will they expand their retail footprint in, how well-received was the new store launch, its strategy to attract new consumers to enter its store, and how the lockdown forced the brand to shift its focus from profitability to liquidity.

Excerpts:

Q. Tell us how Duroflex decided to expand its retail presence at a time when other retail trends are backtracking and consumers are wary of even stepping out? What kind of response did you get from consumers?

The launch of our second Duroflex Experience Centre in Bengaluru is a testament to our commitment to always put our consumer well-being first and help India sleep better, even at a time when retail trends are backtracking. As people adapt to the ‘new normal’, they are looking for essential products that will help them live and stay healthy. With consumers spending more time at home and doing numerous activities on their beds, a high-quality mattress from a trusted brand that gives them a healthy sleep experience has become an essential need now more than ever. We also witnessed an increase in the number of visits to our brand website during the lockdown which showed a demand for our mattresses and trust in our expertise. We understood this consumer need and launched our second experiential store in Bengaluru at Whitefield while also taking all safety measures to provide a safe and hygienic shopping environment.

The Duroflex Experience Centre, designed keeping shopper needs in mind, offers a unique and first-of-its-kind mattress shopping experience. As a leading sleep solutions company, we understand that mattresses are a vital health need and therefore it is important for consumers to experience the product and make an informed selection.

Consumers can experience a wide range of innovative and premium mattresses from Duroflex including our brand’s signature range Duropedic which is India’s only certified orthopaedic mattress range. The store also features three other ranges of our mattresses - Energise, Natural Living, and Essential. Consumers can also shop from a wide array of sleep accessories like 100% memory foam pillows with neck support, cool-gel pillows, antimicrobial mattress protectors, and much more.

Q. How did you create buzz around this store launch? Will we see you expanding in any other city anytime soon?

We have an existing launch offer of up to 25% off on any mattress purchase from our new experience center. We are also giving away assured gifts with every purchase. We are doing promotions through social media and print ads to the people of Whitefield to invite them to our stores. Yes, we intend to continue to put consumer needs first and expand our retail footprint in other parts of the country. Cities in the southern and western states of India are on our radar at the moment. Our Experience Centers will be largely metro focused.

Q. How did you communicate and connect with consumers during the lockdown?

Since the onset of social distancing, we at Duroflex stayed connected with our consumers in a unique and compassionate way. We did not force-fit our brand but rather empathized with them and supported them through various positive and thoughtful messages and activities in all phases of the lockdown.

We offered emotional solace and support, the right information, and self-help through our social and digital platforms. In the initial stages of the lockdown when fear and anxiety of the virus were gripping people’s consciousness, we sprang into action with valuable health advice on ‘ Sleeping for Immunity’. We channeled our communication around the relevance of sleeping 7- 8 hours a day to strengthen immunity with messages by reputed health influencers.

When rational conversations gave way to emotional reassurance, we stepped in with our message ‘Stay In’ urging people to stay home because their bed is the safest and most comforting space. We also hosted live sessions from our social channels with experts like Yasmin Karachiwala, Ayesha Bilimoria, Vandana Gupta to help people stay fit and engaged while staying in.

When an extended lockdown was announced and anxiety seeped in, we used our expertise on sleep and introduced ‘Sleep Therapy’ series - inherently calming activities on social media that addressed mental health. We hosted Yoga Nidra, live acoustic Bedtime Concerts, and Sleep Therapy sessions to help people combat stress.

As the lockdown began to relax, we released a communication on ‘Better Tomorrow’, made to remind us that while we largely stay home and practice social distancing, our mind is always free to venture out and explore new solutions and possibilities. We hosted fun, engaging skill workshops and asked people to share new skills and hobbies they picked up during the lockdown and the response was overwhelming.

We also talked about our innovative product solution such as Duropedic - India’s only certified orthopaedic mattress range to help combat the toll that work from home and the new normal has taken on back and spinal health.

In this way, we continue to stay abreast of consumer sentiments and provide the necessary support and solutions.

Q. What kind of business impact have you faced as an organization during the lockdown? How are you preparing for the unlock period now?

The lockdown has had a major impact on business. No sales and no cash flow for over two months has been a major setback for the entire category. Liquidity is our single biggest focus right now.

We have been putting a lot of attention to our restart protocol – in our factories and also in our retail and e-commerce markets. Now that the lockdown has been partially lifted, we have been focusing on getting the supply chain up and running sustainably and safely. We have reopened stores in different parts of the country, excluding the ones in containment zones. We have also opened our second Experiential Centre in Bengaluru at Whitefield to cater to the vital health need for a good quality mattress; an essential requirement for people today since they are spending more time at home especially on their beds.

We have also been concerned about our vendors and channel partners and their ability to get back on their feet. We have been engaging with them to understand and assist where possible.

The situation is unprecedented but we strongly believe that every crisis is an opportunity. Our financial acumen, people's culture, resilient attitude, and agility is what is going to help us come out of this pandemic stronger than ever before.

Q. How have you observed the consumer behavior changing pre and post lockdown?

Soon after the lockdown, consumer behavior and consumption changed to focusing on only key essentials. However, during the lockdown, we experienced an increase in visits to the Duroflex website which showed that there was a demand for quality mattresses. Due to the lockdown and social distancing, homes have become the hub for work and family time, beds have become the canvas for many activities - personally, professionally, individually, or as a family. Most people already spend 30% of their time in bed on the mattress. In the lockdown, people are spending even their non-sleeping hours on the mattress since many don’t have the luxury of a separate workplace at home. So there is a demand for mattresses, especially from a trusted brand. The quadruple increase of visits to our website in the lockdown is a testament to that. Also now more than ever, there is an increased awareness about the importance of getting quality sleep to boost immunity and overall health. A well-designed mattress is a key to unlocking great sleep.

Q. What was your marketing strategy during the lockdown? Did you modify your media mix, with marketing investments getting shifted from one medium to another?

During the lockdown, when staying home and maintaining social distancing was at its peak, consumption of content through the online medium and social media increased multifold. Ecommerce, digital, and social became a critical part of our marketing and communication strategy. Our messages during the lockdown centered on providing support and solace to consumers during a difficult time. This was communicated through digital films that we released on our YouTube and social channels.

Influencer marketing also played a vital role in our efforts to stay connected to our consumers during the lockdown. The credibility and social reach of influencers have helped us in creating awareness about the power of sleep, sleeping 7-8 hours to boost immunity, and motivating people to stay in and stay healthy. We collaborated with influencers to keep people motivated while staying at home. Thrice a week we had renowned health and influencers go live from our Instagram handle @ duroflexworld and do sessions on a full-body workout, bed yoga, running drills, etc. Certified doctors and experts addressed mental health issues and suggested tips and solutions keep stress at bay.

Q. As we are slowly coming out of the lockdown, what were your learnings as a leader?

Below are some of the learnings:
· Stay connected with everyone and foster an atmosphere of transparency and collaboration
· Use the opportunity to upskill yourself and your team to build them for the future
· Fatigue is unavoidable if you are chasing unrealistic targets. Be agile and have the foresight to change your plan and expectation with the current times. Create contingency plans, stay informed, be responsive and never lose sight of the larger end goal
· Be innovative, create disruptive models, and don’t be afraid to experiment. Do not look at the pandemic as a limitation but look at it as an opportunity to be unlearned, learn, and grow

COVID-19IndiaCases: 1.85MDeaths: 38.9kRecovered: 1.23M
COVID-19WorldCases: 18.14MDeaths: 691kRecovered: 11.07M
COVID-19USACases: 4.62MDeaths: 154kRecovered: 1.52M