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BY Anjana Naskar

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Sheela Foam’s flagship brand Sleepwell has recently forayed into home comfort solutions with the launch of premium personalised bedding sets. Two digital ad campaigns were rolled out to promote the ‘Sleepwell Comfort Set’ launch with fanfare. Vishal Sharma, Head of Marketing, Sleepwell, talks about the new products and how the brand continues to stay relevant.

Q] Sleepwell recently entered home comfort solutions with the launch of premium personalised bedding sets. How was it received by people?
When one visits a retail store or a website to buy a mattress, it rarely happens that one buys the mattress alone. Quite instinctively, they look for a new bed sheet, pillows and a comforter. So, it came naturally to us to offer these items for extension-sell of sorts. The credibility of the brand we’ve built over the years helps us sell these effortlessly. A buyer doesn’t need to hop to a different store to look for home comfort products — ours is a one-stop shopping destination. We provide bed sheets, pillows, comforters, blankets pre-matched. Even mattress covers come in coordinated colours and patterns. Products of similar designs and patterns are available in various price ranges. As a category, our pre-matched bed sets are a first in India. We had arranged a pilot launch in Gujarat and Maharashtra, and the response was good. The success of the West experiment has prompted us to go pan-India. Our kids’ range of products features Disney figures.

Q] As part of the ‘Sleepwell Comfort Set’ launch, the brand rolled out two digital ads films. Tell us about the campaign and the budget allotted for it?
We have spent over Rs 50 lakh on the pilot launch drive in Gujarat and Maharashtra. Men are the primary buyers when it comes to mattresses — it’s 70% men and 30% women. But, the home comfort zone (bed sets) is women dominated. They are the primary buyers and take great interest in latest trends and designs. The two ad films are for them, modelled on their tastes and buying patterns. The “two slices of life”, as we call them, do not feature any actor or model — they are regular people. One of the ad films features a mother-daughter duo and another shows a corporate woman looking for items that match their choices and lifestyle.

Q] Sleepwell has been one of the prominent players in the mattress segment, but recently, we have seen a number of new entrants in the market with unique offerings. What is your strategy to stay ahead of the competition?
We are a 50-year-old brand. We are original manufacturers, and have our own R&D centre. We understand Indian consumers very well and can do our research very quickly to tailor-make our mattresses as per consumer needs. The same can’t be said about the new entrants as most of them are just trading. We have devised different strategies for different channels. This helped us become the second-leading brand in e-commerce. We have launched a brand exclusively for our young customers with a different product line and price range. It is solely for online marketplaces like Amazon and Flipkart. We will build an omni-channel network by integrating both offline and online to become a hybrid brand. Our new website speaks of our revamped brand.
Customers will soon get the new Sleepwell 2.0 brand experience. Our physical stores are getting a face-lift, where buyers will get a unique shopping experience — demonstrations will be powered by AR and VR.
Majority of brands still follow a single strategy for the entire country, but we have started designing region-specific schemes. We will foray into some new categories, which will serve as useful adjuncts to our pre-existing ones. We have introduced mattress-cleaning service — this initiative has been a success. Our neem-fresh products have been patented.

Q] How much of growth have you seen in the orthopaedic category since the pandemic struck?
The orthopaedic segment was already very popular in India of all the categories sold in the industry. We have started introducing more and more ortho products in each price range. Our sales have increased by about 10% in the category, because Indians now are more aware of the benefits of using these products. We have started collaborating with some sleep-tech companies.

Sleepwell is a flagship brand of the Sheela Group. It manufactures Polyurethane foam and is an ISO 9001-certified company. It has been serving consumers for over the last five decades. It has 10 state-of-the-art manufacturing units, a strong support of over 100+ distributors and over 8,000 dealers in India. Sheela Group commands approximately 30% market share of the Indian P.U. foam industry.

Media Agency: Havas
Creative Agency: ICD and Rap India
Social Media Agency: Rap India
Digital Agency: Havas
PR Agency: Genesis BCW

Vishal Sharma is the Head of Marketing at Sleepwell. He is responsible for spearheading all the marketing functions of Sleepwell. Sharma is a marketing leader with over 19 years of experience in managing diverse consumer brands across categories ranging from FMCD (Mobile Handset), Telecom (Mobile & Broadband), and Consumer Goods (Electronic Retail & Mattress/ Furnishings) having served in national & regional roles in leading companies.

Q] What kind of growth have you seen in the last one year? What are the key growth drivers for the mattress segment?
We’ve seen very good growth. This year’s Diwali has been the best in the history of the company. The fourth quarter of the current financial year is seeing strong sales. Post unlock 2.0, growth has been phenomenal. Compared to the metros, tier-II, tier-III and tier-IV towns have been growing very strongly — they are driving the numbers. The market was not hit that badly in smaller towns as these have been less affected by COVID-19. Eventually, metros have also recovered and the pent up demand in the industry has really ramped up well. In fact, we’ve not been able to cater to the rapidly growing demand.
Besides the demonetization and GST, it was the pandemic that in a way helped the industry become organized very rapidly. After the introduction of demonetization and GST, a lot of unauthorized traders moved out of the sector. Moreover, with the FinTech industry taking off, EMIs have become very popular. When COVID struck, people started falling back on brands. The move from unorganized to organized is helping us grow faster than earlier.

Q] What kind of traction are you noticing through online and e-commerce channels?
We started with e-commerce just a year ago. Last year, we recorded revenues of approximately Rs 50 crore on online platforms like Amazon and Flipkart. This year, we are aiming to literally double the growth rate. We will cross the Rs 100-crore mark in terms of sales figures by the year-end.

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Tags : CMO SLEEPWELL marketing zone Sheela Foam bedding AnjanaNaskar