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Sajan Murali Puravangara, Country Manager and Director, Turtle Wax India
By Sharad Matade| Dec 19, 2020

Turtle Wax Aims To Be Leader In DIY Segment In India

Turtle Wax, a global name in the car care industry, entered the Indian market this year. With its aggressive plans and the ongoing demand for car care products, the company aims at becoming one of the largest care car product suppliers in Doing It Yourself (DIY) segment, besides, establishing a strong presence in Do-It-For-Me (DIFM) space.

According to Sajan Murali Puravangara, Country Manager and Director, Turtle Wax India, the car care industry is an integral part of the automotive industry, and changing buying preference from the mileage, and low maintenance to aesthetics, safety, comfort and features are fuelling demand for car care products.

“India has been witnessing good growth in car sales in last decade, whereas in the last five years, we see traction in the car care industry on account of changing trends or reasons to buy a car. In recent years, the way people look at the car has changed. They buy cars for the looks and features, and that also led to an interest to keep their cars new, tidy and clean; this is bringing demand for car care products. The interest is also coming from the mass car segment. In the last two years, we are getting the indication that the car care industry will be the next sunshine industry in the future,” explained Puravangara.

Turtle Wax, a family-owned company, has been in the car care business for nearly 75 years and operates in over 120 countries. Before establishing its third subsidiary in India, the company has been operating with two subsidiaries- the US and Europe.

India has a population over 1.3 billion and only 22 people out of a thousand own car, while in the US and UK, 980 and 850 per 1,000 individuals have a car, respectively. The massive headroom for the car segment in the next one-and-a-half-decade will trigger further growth for the car care segment in the long term, opines Puravangara.

According to a research report, the current car care industry in India is slightly less than one billion USD and expected to reach $1.44 billion in 2027. Explaining the growth factors, the report says, people usually keep their cars for more than seven years in India, and hence car care products are being increasingly used to restore the paint and for detailing and interiors. Along with this, many car care product manufacturers from Europe and North American markets have their presence in India through e-commerce websites and strong dealership networks. The same report adds that by 2027, the interior car care product segment will be around of $0.73 billion, while the exterior car product market will grow to USD 0.7 billion.

Consumer behaviour, cheap labour, and lack of necessary know-how make the Indian car care industry more challenging for the companies to operate in the DIY space.

In western countries, cars are a part of the family, and family members take basic care. In the US and other developed countries, the DIY segment is about 80 percent of the total car care industry; however, in India, it is of around 30 percent. “In countries like India, due to the hectic work schedule and cheap labour, DIFM dominates in the car care segment. There is always a third person to take basic care of cars in India. Coupled with this, the know-how is fairly lower in India when it comes to basic things such what wax can do to your car and what are the ways to protect cars’ interior and exterior,” Puravangara said.

However, the pandemic in the last eight months has proven useful for the car care segment. “We have seen momentum in the DIY business in the last six months. Since people have been at home, they have a lot of time at their disposal. They find time to take care of their cars. We are also seeing people are increasingly enquiring on different social media platforms on how to take care of their cars and sharing other issues,” he said.

As a part of the strategy to penetrate its products, the company will heavily focus on educating consumers on primary car care and the company’s products. “Being a global leader in the car care industry, it is our top priority to educate people on car care, know-how and our product usages and benefits.”

In the next three to four months, the company will start campaigns on social media channels. The campaign will invite consumers with their queries or to share their experience and issues.

“The company will also bring out videos on how to use our products and use the social influencers on YouTube and Instagram,” Puravangara said.

Though India is seeing a growing number of women behind in the wheel, the car care industry is yet to consider women as their potential customers. However, Turtle Wax understands the role of women in the overall automotive industry and expects the growing number of women car owners evidently will reflect in the car care industry.

To widen its customer base, the company will also promote the car wash as a family celebration where family members will take participate in washing, cleaning and taking care of the car. “Washing and cleaning cars is a family affair in many countries, and therefore the company will be promoting the same in India as well,” added he.

However, external factors that also possess further challenges for car care products. Considering vast territories, different weather, pollutions and scarcity and quality of water put car care product performance under severe pressure. Keeping the external challenges in mind, the company plans to bring in products that are suitable to the Indian markets.

“A larger challenge is not only the availability of water but the hard water which leaves marks on the car. Coupled with this, extreme temperature and dust and pollution affect the car. We are bringing in the products that will take care of cars in the Indian environment. We have asked the company to make products suitable for the Indian market,” said the executive.

Currently, the company offers the products required to clean, shine and protect the car inside out. The product portfolio includes shampoo to clean, wax to shine and various interior cleaners in the form of foam and liquid to clean the interiors of the car. It also offers various speciality products like trim restorer, chrome polish, headlight lens restorer, Odor-X Odor removing solutions, etc. to address specific car care requirements. Turtle Wax also has a ceramic coating that has 10H hardness which gives the high gloss, ultra-hydrophobicity, extreme chemical resistance, UV protection and easy cleaning properties. The company plans to bring in graphene-based ceramic coating solutions, which is the new technology in the car care industry.

The company is planning to bring 75th-anniversary Ceramic Paste Wax in Q1 2021, and will also introduce windshield washer fluid shortly in India. Other products from the company for the India market include all-metal polish that polishes all metal surfaces of the car’s exterior; Glass cleaner to keep the glass streak-free during the ride; ClearVue Rain Repellent that helps get better visibility during the monsoon rains; Trim Restorer since the Trims fades here in India more than the rest of the world and Windscreen washer fluid to remove the dirt and grime from the windshield glass.

The company will also introduce waterless washing products that cater to areas where water is scarce. The company’s waterless wash and wax has advanced polymer technology that lifts dirt to prevent starching, while the enriched wax gives a shiny and protective finish. Its rain repellent formula prevents watermarks and extends time in between cleaning.

The company will also bring in its Turtle Wax Hybrid Solutions ICE Seal N Shine, premium car paint sealant. The ICE Seal N Shine gives the car a layer of super-hydrophobic silicone for up to six months of protection against streaks, scratches and swirls.

To set up its network, the company will go through a distribution route and for which it has selected 23 cities, which have larger car density. Turtle Wax India is appointing own distributors in these cities who will take care of retailers and workshops. It has also identified another 48 towns in which it will supply products to dealers who will provide the products in the respective markets.

“We will have our main presence in all metro cities including Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Delhi-NCR, Kolkata, Pune, Mumbai, and additional upcoming cities like Ahmedabad, Coimbatore, Cochin, Surat etc,” he added.

The company plans to have about 10,000 outlets by the end of next June. Turtle Wax India has also set up the car care studios in Pune, Bangalore and New Delhi. The studio will be not based on a franchise concept; instead, it will be a co-branded activity. “We provide our products and branding support, but the studios also keep their brand identity,” he said. The company also has plants to have such studios in its 23 cities.

Puravangara declined to share the current revenue and future commercial targets but said sales numbers are increasing with each passing month. Currently, the company is importing its products from global subsidiaries, but he said the company will have a look into setting up local production capabilities. “The way it is going, we will have to do something locally as well. I don’t think we will be able to manage (the demand) with our global support when the demand goes up,” he said.

The company is looking for an option of re-packaging under which it will get bulk products and repack for the domestic market. “We will also see if some India oriented products will be manufactured here, completely. Those options are quite open,” he added.

Many Indians are using hair shampoo sachets to wash cars. When asked whether the company is looking to introduce car wash shampoo in sachets, he said it will not look into sachet option but will be looking to have a bottle of 100 to 200 ml. “We are still looking at those options of small bottles, but per wash, cost increases with smaller bottles,” he added.

Talking on the challenges, he said, it is on finalising the complete product portfolio that suits to the rapidly changing requirements of the Indian market. “We need to keep reinventing on products to be a leader in the market,” he concluded. (MT)

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