Affordable luxury Not a paradox

Archit Gupta, MD, King Koil India

Archit Gupta, MD, King Koil India shares his thoughts on the luxury mattress market and its consumers in India. Also what he thinks about the technology in the mattress industry and its evolution, and some other dimensions

It’s all about thinking out of the box. Archit Gupta, MD, King Koil India reflects on a long road that his company’s lineage and positioning has driven; and also on some current shifts to help us interpret what lies ahead for the industry and some special customer segments. In India, unlike other mattress markets, luxury is not a high-hanging fruit. It’s well within the customer’s reach. Mr. Gupta also reveals why technology can be the new front-runner for the mattress industry. It is through technology that true personalisation and health strengths can be accomplished. He seems quite excited about this aspect of the industry’s evolution and shares peek into what he calls ‘the father of technology in sleep industry’. Let’s find out why he is optimistic on both these interesting dimensions of the industry – the luxury segment as well as the technology-driven product innovations that are gaining pace now. And why are both these areas on a good growth curve. More in this interview.

Q A rich legacy of 120 years and still going strong and ambitious? What do you feel when you look back and ahead of this exciting journey?

Well, we have taken a strong positioning in the premium and luxury segments, and not so much in the mid segment. We have seen more value creation in our focus areas. Our lens has mostly been on the ‘Rs.50,000 and above’ category. So the legacy that we see is that of ‘affordable luxury’. Incidentally, luxury is a subjective term. In an international market, the luxury segment can mean a different price range. The price range that defines the luxury customer is quite different and expensive in foreign markets. It is usually on a very high side of accessibility and financial-reach. But in India, we have concentrated on this bracket with a different approach. Our focus has always been on making sure that the luxury segment is not out of the way for Indian customers. That’s what we have maintained and strengthened in India. We hope to continue on that path – premium, yet affordable. And we have lined up a lot of innovations on that lane.

Q Like? Can you share something that we can look forward to next year?

Sure. We have launched a new technology which is going to be the father of technology for sleep products. Here, each side of the mattress can be customised with a remote control. This is like the future. We are working on many more such disruptive ideas.

Q Incidentally, the customer has become very comfortable with technology during the pandemic. Would the post-pandemic economic scenario be a new landscape for the mattress industry? What opportunities or challenges do you see emerging next?

We saw a surge in demand like every other industry in the recent weeks, which is after the lockdowns eased. It was interesting because being in the premium segment we did not expect demand to rise so well. But that was not the case, we saw a good demand appetite for our products.

Q Any changes that you anticipate in some customer segments in the coming year – specially in areas like health, luxury and ultra-luxury?

It really depends on the purchasing power of the customer. The demand uptick we saw was also helped due to our expansive reach. Premium customers are always there in the market. It’s a base that is increasing every day. They are getting better. It is a segment that will rise moderately, in my reckoning.

Q Has the advent of WFH trend and the shift to a hybrid workforce contributed to a strong and durable impact for the mattress industry? Or were they temporary boosters?

It’s very tough to say. Customerbuying patterns can be temporary or permanent. The industry has seen a lot of shifts and new patterns of customer behaviour in the pandemic for sure. But will they last- that’s difficult to predict. I do not have a very strong view there but I definitely see a positive side even if I am not bullish about the overall impact.

Q Since you have always had a vantage point with premium hotels, how do you think mattresses and accessory products can help as travel and hospitality players embark on a reboot path now?

For the last two years, the travel and hospitality players were facing challenges and most were in a shutdown state. Now as the world is opening up, many pending projects are being revived. We see a continued surge in demand in the next 3-4 months if no new variant or wave interrupts this trajectory.

Q You chose body contouring, posture-sense and pressurerelieving features early on in the industry. How significant would the health lever be for the customer and your portfolio now?

We have been collaborating seriously on health-related innovations. One such endeavour is the Sleep ID where a couple can customise the softness of a foam. We wanted to contribute to compatibility in a relationship in the form of a mattress too. The product works on BMI calculations and takes care of personalised aspects very well. It is a body match technology. This was brought in because we observed that buying a mattress just by its firmness or softness might give a person body aches and sleepless nights. We wanted to help to find a mattress that suits a couple, and wipe away the problem of an incompatible mattress. It is an exclusive technology that analyses the way a person sleeps. The software takes many consideration points and delivers something that meets unique requirements very well. All one needs to do is enter basic data and our software will populate the best match that works for a person and his/her partner’s body. It gives an accuracy of 94 percent. At King Coil, we are empowering customers with technology that can find the right mattress for a specific body type.

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.