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BY Eularie Saldanha

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Sleep has been talked of more than ever these past few months, now that people have been spending more time at home with reduced travel time. With the heightened need for rest and a good night’s sleep, Sumit Sehgal, CMO, Sheela Foam Ltd talks about the company’s flagship brand, Sleepwell and the many initiatives it has rolled out specifically in the lockdown period, including a renewed strategy for the product. He also speaks about the brand’s entry into the customization segment and more…

Q] Tell us about the insight behind your latest campaign #TwoAsOne for your customizable brand Cocoon... What was the kind of consumer response you’ve seen since the campaign was rolled out?
The Cocoon mattress by Sleepwell has been launched in line with our constant pursuit for personalization. Traditionally, double mattresses have the same feel and firmness for the whole surface and therefore, one partner may have to compromise.

Cocoon is designed for couples who may have different sleeping needs and now they have the options of choosing the feel that is most comfortable for them. We came up with a campaign, #TwoAsOne that embodies this product insight, by recognising such couples.

The campaign was launched with a film conceptualised by Ogilvy that showed an urban couple with different sleeping habits and how cocoon lets them celebrate their differences while sleeping together on the Cocoon.

We had a contest that went live on our social media platforms where we received a huge response with participants sharing their stories. The digital film has also received an astounding response and we are extremely grateful to our audience for their appreciation of the product.

Q] Now that the company has entered into the customization space with Cocoon, tell us about the consumer demand. Are you seeing a good demand, and what are your expectations from the new launch?
We have always been at the forefront of introducing best-in-class sleep solutions in the market over the years to cater to the needs of our discerning customers and their changing lifestyle. Our patented Neem Fresche technology is testimony to the same.

Yes, with Cocoon we have definitely taken personalization a step further and launched India’s first customizable mattress. Customers are already excited about this unique product and we have been receiving a great response. We expect this product to do really well.

Sleepwell is the flagship brand of the Sheela Foam Group, a manufacturer of Polyurethane foam and an ISO 9001 certified company. The brand has been in existence for over five decades, and has a pan-India distribution and manufacturing network, a diverse product portfolio and R&D capabilities.

Media agency: Havas Media
PR agency: Genesis BCW
Creative agency: Ogilvy

Q] Sleepwell released the #StaySafeWithSleepwell campaign in the initial phase of the lockdown. How helpful was the campaign in terms of sales and customer response?
The rapid spread of the pandemic and its subsequent lockdowns were leading to a lot of anxiety and stress among citizens which in turn was directly impacting their sleep. As a brand that has always propagated good sleeping habits, we took it upon ourselves to create awareness on the importance of eight hours of sound sleep to build up the body’s defenses and hence launched #StaySafeWithSleepwell campaign.

The campaign also helped us build awareness about how a prolonged use on a mattress can be source of germs and dust mites and how our patented Neem Fresche technology helps ward off these germs and prevent illness. Today, while most of us are working from home, our mattress has turned out to be the favourite spot in the house.

Q] What is the response you have received from the Sleepwell@Home initiative which allows consumers to order and get mattresses delivered to them at their doorstep?
The Sleepwell@Home initiative has received a superb response. Given the lockdown conditions and prolonged use of mattress in these past months, consumers are happy changing their mattress, especially with the added benefit of selecting and buying from the comfort of your home.

We have now launched an exchange offer where consumers can change their old mattress for a new Sleepwell mattress. We have implemented a set of detailed standard operating procedures keeping hygiene and safety as top priority while visiting a consumer’s home during mattress selection, delivery and installation.

Q] Your brand SleepX now has a dedicated website. Do you think SleepX.com will surpass online sales, as compared to sites like Amazon and Flipkart which sold the product for over a year?
SleepX is predominantly targeted at the new age consumer, one that spends majority of their time on digital platforms and prefers to shop online, especially during these times. Each channel has their peculiarities and all these channels will continue to coexist. As a brand, it is our responsibility to be present in the channel of the consumer’s choice.

Q] Please highlight some of the challenges you faced in the lockdown and the marketing strategy you have adopted to cope with the same...
Despite opening up of the lockdown, consumers have not resumed their old shopping habits. Which is why we launched the Sleepwell@Home program to service consumers. Due to the huge response we received for this initiative, we have decided to continue with this in order to provide a higher level service to consumers to shop in the comforts of their home.

Q] Most of your innovations have been rolled out only in the lockdown period. Is there any specific reason why you chose this period, despite the number of challenges that come with it?
The first 2-3 months of the lockdown when business was at a standstill gave us the time to understand current and future consumer behaviour and tailor our strategy accordingly. We could foresee a rise in e-commerce and therefore launched Sleepx.com and mysleepwell.com.

Generally in day to day work one gets limited time to sit back and think hard. The lockdown was a good opportunity to deep dive into the changing consumer behaviour and re-strategize our product, channel and service offerings. Also during such difficult times, it is important to remain in touch with your customers and that is exactly what we have done.

Q] Give us a few interesting anecdotes from your journey as Chief Marketing Officer at Sheela Foam.
Introduction of e-commerce for a brand is not an easy task especially when the cash cow is the offline business. We therefore evolved into an omnichannel model which takes the advantages of both offline and online. Today, our offline EBO channel has the ability to place an online order for a consumer walk-in and that’s the beauty of the Omni-channel model, leveraging the best of offline and online.

Q] How do you anticipate the PU Foam category to be like, five years down the line?
This category will continue to strengthen its position in the market given the sheer versatility of this material and its ability to adapt to multiple product formats and consumer choices.

With over 20 years of experience in sales and marketing, Sumit Sehgal is a tenured marketer with a deep understanding of the Indian market. He plays a pivotal role at Sheela Foam in shaping the marketing department and making it one of the key drivers for the company.

Focus on the
new 4P’s - Performance Performance Performance Performance.

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