AFFORDABILITY – Indian industry’s turning point

Mr. Alok Goyal, Managing Director, BDG Polysteel Ltd.,

Q Was it a plus point or a challenge to enter a market already ruled by legacy players?

The challenge was present and it only helps a new entrant to make the product more interesting. Our economic advantage was strong. Other manufacturers were focusing on high-income groups. But we noticed the volumes in low-income segments. Things are changing fast in India. Now we see other brands that have started to appreciate other material alternatives but initially, there was some resistance. New product applications take time to develop.

Q Is this demand for modular options going up after the Covid and work-from-home (WFH) shift?

Well, during the last few months, people have begun to use mattresses not just for sleeping, it is been used by the
entire family to spend time together. It has become the epicentre of the entire house, where memories are made
around the same. We are working on technology and designs for better air circulation, cushioning and resilience as well. As to WFH needs, I am not sure if people would want to stay at home as the crisis eases out. The stay-at-home part was a compulsion for many and not a choice. People want to step out. They feel fresh when they do that. But the industry will keep adapting with innovations.

Q You have preserved the emphasis on hand-crafted solutions and at the same time you take pride in the latest engineering excellence? Is it a tough balance to strike?

Yes, we also have a hand-curated mattress for the masses, with the latest tools and jigs we can address the huge volume. This increasing demand has also pushed us to develop machinery for the same, which we will import soon. The idea is to keep the essence of handcraft and also catch up with the demand.

Q How important are collaborations and technology innovations for this industry?

In India, population is a big factor. Very soon, we will see more volumes driving the market in the low-price and
economical category of mattresses. The scale is going to explode soon. The low-income category, although
not addressed by many players, has a large customer base in India. To capture it well, we would need automation. We need technology in other areas like marketing and distribution as well. Just look at the automotive industry, and how India is now at par with global majors. We still do not have the same triggers for automation in the mattress industry yet but I think these triggers will happen soon.

Q Anything exciting coming out next?

With a price hike in almost all industries like steel, chemicals etc., the basic mattress price can go up. A low-density and economical option will, hence, surely attract a lot of R&D from many sections of the industry. We are working on new solutions, new product applications and designs. Each of our three units of manufacturing is working on something. We will come out with something shortly.

Q Tell us something about your brand Comfex?

We have a commodity product that has multiple applications beyond the mattress industry – like automotive industry uses and more. We are planning to expand and create a pan-India presence and strengthen our manufacturing footprint.

ISPF is an industry body which promotes importance of sleep and role of mattress for a Indian consumers. ISPF plays very important role in connecting Indian bedding industry ecosystem. ISPF also acts as bridge between India and international players.