Paint brands move ahead with cautious optimism. Will it be a washout this festive season?
The pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns have derailed many things as we move into the festive season. It is usually during the festival times that we witness a large number of households paint their houses, which they plan well in advance. Painting one’s home also expresses a lot of emotions and joy and, therefore, most of the Indian households make it a point to ensure that the painting of the house happens before the auspicious festival season.
However, this year conditions are very much removed from the usual. So, what are the challenges that the paint brands will face this festive season? What about business operations and revenue targets?
Getting the expert workmen
Due to the pandemic, the skilled painters, who are mostly migrant workers, have gone back to their home towns and villages and most are yet to return to the cities. The concept of DIY painting has still not entered our country unlike in the West, and hence, households depend on the painters and freelancers. This year, lack of availability of skilled workmen could hit the home painting business. Moreover, maintaining hygiene while painting the house is also seen as a major challenge.
Easy availability of Products and Shades
The disruption in the market has affected the production of many paint brands. So, will there be an availabity issue, both in terms of the right raw materials and preferred shades? Choice of shades and the right painting material has become very important as they really enhance the look and the aesthetics of the house. Besides that, painting is an expensive affair, so people are very particular about the material used and the shades that are preferred.
If the right material and certain kind of shade or type of paint is not available, the customers could postpone their home painting decision for the time being and wait for the pandemic situation to improve.
Mood and Budget
Understandably, consumer sentiments are low this festive season, hit by the fear of COVID-19 infection, and economic slowdown, salary cuts and job losses. While many marketers are expecting people to spend more during the festive season, given the fact that there is a lot of pent up demand from the first half of the year, consumers could also curtail big ticket spendings. And painting one’s house involves major spending. Thus, the mood, the inclination and the budget will matter a lot.
Despite the challenging conditions, paint companies remain upbeat of demand picking up as we progress further into the festive period.
Talking to Adgully, Anuj Jain, Executive Director, Kansai Nerolac Paints Ltd, said, “Since the lockdown in March and April, the markets have gradually started picking up. The demand has been better, especially from smaller towns. However, in metros and other big cities, consumers are still reluctant in allowing painters to enter their homes. Gradually, people have adapted the new normal and are going ahead with painting activities in their houses. The availability of painters is not a major problem as most of them have returned to their respective cities for work. The brands are taking extra effort to train the painters about maintaining the right hygiene and sanitisation of the site where the work is being carried out to ensure their well-being and safety all this while ensuring great looking homes. Consumer demand is expected to be positive in the festive season as well. However, there is a lot of caution in the market.”
Jain further added that a large part of painting is taken up by homeowners for disinfection and sanitisation purposes. Leveraging this need, brands are working towards offering multi beneficial solutions. Kansai Nerolac Paints has developed India’s First Anti-Viral paint - Excel Virus Guard, an interior emulsion paint with active anti-viral and anti-microbial properties that repels 99.9% germs. Nerolac Excel Virus Guard helps reduce humidity &; odour. Its active ingredients lend it a unique fabric finish that would make the walls appear naturally ethnic. ‘Fabric Finish’ increases breathability of walls and freshness of air circulating within enclosed spaces. The versatile product has also shown that it has anti-bacterial properties apart from it being an effective viral solution. Painting is largely associated with disinfection and sanitisation of spaces. This has gained more relevance in current times.
According to S Mahesh Anand, President – Decorative Paint, Nippon Paint (India), “The festive season connotes new beginnings for most people and so, they usually tend to undertake new purchases, and developments during the auspicious season. Homeowners spruce up their living spaces during this time of the year, taking up wall painting ventures. But the current COVID pandemic has slightly dimmed the cheer for paint companies this festive season, as many customers think twice to undertake any painting projects mainly because of the safety hazards. Other than the gloomy consumer sentiments, the decorative paint industry has been hit by the sluggish real estate offtake. Also, lockdown in various parts of the country means a disruption in the supply chain, leading to an unavailability of products and other vital resources. We at Nippon Paint have countered this by preparing guidelines for our channel partners and dealers on how to restart their business operations. We arranged sanitization for our key dealers through approved applicators.”
The communication of most of the paint brands aims to reassure consumers that they are following all the necessary hygiene and safety measures to reach them safely. Other than that, there are a lot of advertisements and offers driven around the products and services offered. Anand considered this to be a step in the right direction to woo customers to do their painting of their houses and homes this festive season. Nippon Paint has further focused on the marketing campaign – ‘Sanitize your Walls’ – with its Wellness range of products for Walls, Metal & Wood that would kill 99% of germs and keep the customers and their families safe. While in the past the focus during festive season was more on aesthetics and decorative, right now the need of the hour is a more functional and safer wall paint that will protect inmates of a house.
On the other hand, Minal Srivastava, Vice President - Growth, Strategy and Marketing, Shalimar Paints, felt that it was a little early to make accurate predictions and get a holistic view of the business. However, basis last few months of data, the smaller towns and villages were the ones that picked up sooner. She informed that Shalimar Paints’ registered painters had already begun working and catering well to the slowly recovering market demand. “While we are looking forward to the festive season, but we do understand that this year there might be quite a few surprises. In such a situation with so much of uncertainty, the biggest challenge is to maintain the production and supply chain efficiencies,” she added.