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Amit Syngle, managing director and chief executive officer, Asian Paints
Amit Syngle, managing director and chief executive officer, Asian Paints

‘Focus is on covid-proof products for the future’

'The outbreak has helped the company create products that are covid-proof for future.'

At a time when the covid-19 outbreak has crushed incomes and crimped discretionary spending, Asian Paints Ltd is building brand saliency and introducing innovative products to keep demand alive. The company is also automating factories, streamlining supply chain and leveraging technology, as it navigates the new normal. In an interview, Amit Syngle, managing director and chief executive officer, Asian Paints, said the outbreak has helped the company create products that are covid-proof for future. Edited excerpts:

What are the learnings covid-19 brought to Asian Paints?

Covid-19 has revolutionized the whole area of thinking and taking care of all stakeholders. It has provided a direction on how to be a responsible and caring brand and empathize with all stakeholders like retailers, influencers, vendors and consumers. It has thrown a whole new angle on how to keep employees engaged and motivated, especially when they go through the uncertainties and anxieties of dealing with the new normal. There are new lessons in marketing from the point of keeping the brand saliency high using ingenuity in social media, digital forays and even conventional models. Finally, how to conserve costs, keep the supply chain going, create demand and innovate to have product categories which sell and are ‘covid-proof’ for future.

What are the ways in which Asian Paints is pivoting with the changed realities?

We have looked at adjusting to the new normal by going back to the basics and cutting all frills. At the retailer end, generate demand and give him more confidence to exist and sell, reassure the painter of continuity in livelihood and create a safe and non-threatening working environment for him, continue to build brand saliency, look at product innovation, increased @Home services and providing confidence to the customer to generate demand for the brand.

At the organization level, using technology to bring agility and flexibility in the supply chain, engaging and motivating employees and keeping in touch with all stakeholders.

Has covid-19 forced your company to extend timelines for any of your projects or rework the capital expenditure programme?

We have looked at diverting energies and resources to what is needed in the short term and the medium term. Some of the long term projects have been deferred.

Given the bearish outlook on GDP (gross domestic product) and economy, how does Asian Paints see consumer demand panning out? What are the new areas of growth for the company?

Consumer demand will be cautious and especially, some of the discretionary spends will come down. We also see customers seeking value-for-money across the band of products from economy to luxury and cutting at buying only for the frills. At Asian Paints, we have launched a flurry of @Home services to invigorate the customer like safe painting—a safe way for decorating Homes, San Assure—a sanitizing service and Beautiful Homes —a home décor service. We are looking at giving wings to the health and hygiene category and coming out with lot of innovations like corona-free coatings. We have also launched a ‘do it yourself’ (DIY) repair range through e-commerce to make it convenient for the customer to engage with the category closely and participate strongly to beautify their homes.

Is Asian Paints using IoT or digitization to improve its operations and market share? How?

We have resorted to using technology in a big way and are using platforms and algorithms to look at better prediction and forecasting of demand. We have invoked customer data platforms to look at seamlessly connecting with consumers across channels. Technology is being used to engage and connect with stakeholders on a continual basis and look at even training them on various agendas.

How is Asian Paints adapting its supply chain to beat covid-19 blues?

At the supply chain end, we have looked at bringing a lot of automation in our factories and have implemented a lot of people-independent processes. A huge number of predictive models are being used to forecast demand and look at reducing inventory and increasing service to the customer using technology in a big way.

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