Ravi Saxena is an entrepreneurial CEO and a builder of businesses. Ravi is an MBA from IIM-Ahmedabad, India’s finest management institute, and one of the best in the world. He accomplished his Electronics Engineering Degree from the prestigious Delhi Institute of Technology. He has had 15 years of his 20 years of experience as CEO and MD of major Multinational Organizations in India. He has a track record of launching new concepts and taking them to success. Having built 11 distinct businesses from scratch, in services sector, he has a solid grip on launching businesses, growing them and creating shareholder value. He has extensive global exposure and has participated in projects and workshops in over 35 countries across 5 continents. In a conversation with CXO Outlook, Ravi Saxena talks about his business strategy and expansion plan, Wonderchef’s positioning in the global market and much more.
Wonderchef Home Appliances has raised INR 150 crore recently. Tell us about your business strategy and expansion plan.
Wonderchef has always stood for health, taste and convenience for consumers and we intend to continue on this path with greater vigour and commitment. Recently we launched our brand face, Ms. Kriti Sanon who brings glamour, universal appeal and feminine touch to the brand. And now with the fresh funding we intend to venture into newer categories that are close to kitchen segment, build a stronger connect with the consumer in the online space. We will be investing heavily in Technology to aid in scaling up the business and drive growth. The brand is also constructing its content strategy to give an enhanced selling experience to its core TG and will be focussed on building online community to share not just product experiences but lifestyle stories stemming from food! Being a truly omni-channel brand it will also invest in expanding distribution through General Trade and own brand stores.
Is there a perception among consumers that Indian brands are not up to the mark regarding quality, innovations and style? How is Wonderchef going to position itself in the global market?
We are currently present in over 10 countries and have received overwhelming response from these markets. We will enter at least 7 new markets globally in the coming financial year. Brands like Wonderchef are changing the perception of traditional Indian brands. We are positioned at the top in India, and continue to carry that positioning in international markets also, based on our uncompromising quality, and getting new ideas, solutions, & technologies to the market. Our Royal Velvet pans brought forth a revolution of fresh hues & colours in non-stick cookware category which otherwise was dominated by black colour. Homes were getting smaller, customers more pragmatic, so Wonderchef curated Nutri-blend, which is now our highest selling mixer – grinder-blender. Nutriblend has a huge fan following in USA, UK and Middle Eastern markets also. We have many such innovative products in the kitty like the Nutri-Pot Automatic Pressure Cooker, Bread Maker & Atta Kneader, Die-cast cookware, slow cookers, health grills and patented kitchen prep tool like Turbo Chopper. Right from inception we have stood for German quality with Italian designs and we maintain this till date. We are a premium Kitchenware brand and continue to leverage that positioning even in the international market.
What is the role technology plays in the research and product development of the home appliances sector? How is Wonderchef using technology for its benefits?
Home appliances industry has witnessed tremendous technology intervention in India. The advent of 3-D printing has significantly contributed towards research and product development and crunched timelines for development and launch of new models. Data analysis technologies like AI/ML are helping us develop products targeted sharply at niche markets, and then enabling us to digitally market these products to precise segments. Wonderchef is keeping abreast with the latest developments that are taking place in the sector and are infact developing the products as per the trends. We are among the first movers in making Smart Kitchen appliances in India, such as our innovative Automatic Pressure Cooker, Nutri-Pot and Soup Maker. We have a pipeline of iOT devices which will hit the market in the new year.
How are you planning to increase the presence of Wonderchef in the online market? Tell us about your customer acquisition strategy and rejigging the revenue channels as per the evolving market dynamics.
Wonderchef adopted Digital First strategy 3 years ago, and we saw stupendous growth in online sales after implementing this strategy. This has further given us the confidence to expand our digital infrastructure and invest capacity building of digital platforms.
Through digital mediums we have been able to reach larger geographies which has helped us to grow beyond tier-1 and tier-2 cities. Our refined targeting has helped us reach our TG and convert them efficiently into customers. Digital sales is now the leading contributor of the total revenue for the last 2 years with as much as 49% of sales coming from digital channels.
What has been the impact of the pandemic on the retail sector? How did Wonderchef manage to survive the storm?
Pandemic had a detrimental impact on the entire retail sector with several brands facing existential crisis. However, Wonderchef being an omni-channel brand, could sustain its growth owing to a strong focus on digital channels. This allowed us to explore the potential of digital platforms in brand penetration and reach a younger audience, making them an early entrant in this category. Also we rapidly built content on website and ecommerce that has helped consumer get familiarised with our products. With more people discovering the joys of cooking, we found consumers wanting to upgrade to a premium brand like Wonderchef that enabled them to cook healthy with convenience.
Wonderchef has brought in Bollywood actress Kriti Sanon as its brand ambassador. Tell us more about this move and the brand’s positioning strategy.
Kriti is one of the most versatile actors who has a wide following transcending age, gender and geography. The engagement with Kriti is oriented towards amplifying our efforts to create more awareness about healthy cooking and capture wider demography. Wonderchef as a brand relates with Kriti as she is a self-made, independent actor with a mix of modern and traditional values. The vividness of her persona and the finesse with which she performs and connects with the audience make her the perfect choice to strengthen our positioning. She brings the glamour, mass appeal and the feminine touch to the brand.
How are you planning to operate in the post-pandemic world?
Market dynamics have changed in the pandemic and we have to reorient our strategy to the new reality. Now, technology is playing a vital role in moving the industry forward, both in terms of products and distribution plus marketing. Customer preferences and buying behaviour have changed too. Earlier when millennial didn’t know the way to their kitchen, now have started cooking and baking. Wonderchef has developed smart appliances to cater to this segment. We are constantly analysing the trend and developing the product portfolio as per the market dynamics. We will continue to grow our digital capabilities and create new sub-segments for our innovative products.