The Indian building materials market is a diverse market with unique needs and preferences. As a result, any major player entering the market has to conduct thorough market research and analysis as a precursor. VOX India is one such player. We recently met up with Varun Poddar, Founder, VOX India. He is a young and visionary leader who is at the helm of one of the most exciting ventures in the Indian surface solutions market with an interest in ceiling, wall, flooring and cladding businesses. In this interaction with BuildingandInteriors, Varun Poddar delves into the fascinating entry of VOX in India, its extensive range of surface solutions, and its expansive presence across the vast landscape of India.
B&I: Tell us about your manufacturing facility. How many manufacturing facilities does VOX operate globally, and how does the product line of the Indian facility differ, if at all?
Varun Poddar: We have our state-of-the-art India manufacturing facility in Bengaluru. Our intention in establishing this manufacturing base in India goes beyond catering solely to the domestic market. We aim to produce surface solutions bearing the “Made in India” label, with the objective of eventually exporting high-quality products back to Europe. This manufacturing unit marks VOXs’ 5th global manufacturing facility.
At VOX India, we are employing the same global technology we use in our other facilities. This technology has been meticulously developed and mastered in our other international markets over a span of 30 years. With our technological prowess and market-study, we are developing floorings, wall, ceiling and cladding solutions to align with the specific needs and demands of the Indian market.
B&I: What strategies and product innovations has VOX India used to adapt to the Indian market’s trends and preferences?
Varun Poddar: At present, we are dedicated to an intensive exploration of the Indian flooring market. Our focus is on comprehending the nuances of this dynamic sector, including the latest technologies and global trends. Additionally, our efforts are directed towards tailoring our product offerings to resonate with the distinctive tastes of the Indian audience. At the same time, we are also actively examining the realm of ceiling and cladding solutions within our country, recognizing its significant potential for growth. Our aim is to understand the preferred colours and sizes, fostering innovation to introduce products tailored precisely to these discerning preferences.
The cost of skilled labour in India is increasing and post-installation maintenance can be a time-consuming process due to the lack of labour. Consequently, we see huge growth potential in India for low-maintenance and durable products. Our products are easy to install, low on maintenance, and come with a 10-year warranty. Additionally, we’ve invested significant effort in educating people about the installation of our products. Currently, we conduct monthly training sessions, where we train approximately 300 installers each month, providing them with the knowledge of proper installation techniques and how to address any issues that may arise.
Furthermore, we have developed concise instructional videos that we can send to our installers, demonstrating the correct installation procedures. Moreover, we include a leaflet in each product package, providing instructions in both Hindi and English. This allows installers to have written guidance to refer to when installing VOX products.
B&I: Which market segments are you addressing with your surface solutions?
Varun Poddar: We see the mass-premium surface solutions as a segment of significant interest to us at VOX India. We intentionally avoid positioning ourselves within the most economical product category. This decision stems from the influx of imported goods from China, where some products compromise on quality and pose health concerns, such as high lead content. We prioritize emphasizing that quality endures over time. In addition, we remain mindful that the true cost of choosing the cheapest option may not manifest until several years down the line. Therefore, we make sure that our products are durable and can stand the test of time.
B&I: What is VOX India’s typical customer base?
Varun Poddar: VOX India serves a diverse customer base that encompasses both the commercial and residential sectors. In the commercial domain, we offer sustainable and high-grade products with superior sound absorption capabilities. For residential customers, VOX India provides ceiling, cladding and flooring solutions. Our customer base includes builders, homeowners, and commercial space developers. VOX’s approach is centered on being a solution provider, ensuring that we meet the unique requirements of both segments. We recently finished a project in Mumbai, employing our ceiling products in the elevator area and utilizing our commercial-grade products for the office space. This approach allows us to cater to the evolving demands of the market. It also positions VOX as a complete solution provider in the mass-premium surface solutions industry.
B&I: What are the common obstacles encountered in your sales operations, and how do you address them effectively?
Varun Poddar: Many individuals hesitate to embrace polymer-based systems due to the common association of the term “polymer” with plastics, leading to perceptions of environmental unfriendliness. However, it’s important to recognize that not all polymers are inherently bad. The issue primarily arises with single-use polymers, especially when people do not recycle them properly. Fortunately, there are architects who are open to embracing new technologies, recognizing the potential of long-lasting polymer solutions. Also, it’s important to understand that introducing a new product or technology often requires time to build trust within the industry.
It’s a gradual process, similar to a snowball effect, where one person adopts it, and as others witness its effectiveness, the momentum grows. This usually takes several years of market education and collaboration with architects and customers to raise awareness and build confidence in the product. To build confidence within the system, we use various modes, including exhibitions and digital media. Additionally, we engage in monthly interactions with architects, collaborate with social media influencers, and work closely with installers.
B&I: In terms of your presence, how well are you available across the country?
Varun Poddar: At the moment, our sales team operates in approximately 50 cities, while our distributors cover around 80-90 cities. In addition, our aim is to expand our presence to include the top 200 cities in India by the end of next December. This gradual expansion is a crucial part of our growth strategy.
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