Interview

Interview
Ms. Jyothi Pradhan, CEO, Kurl-on

A post-graduate in both computer science engineering, and management from University of Southern California, Jyothi Pradhan brings with her a versatile experience working in various industries, both in India and the US. Speaking to Comfort Times, she shares company’s digital transformation, online, e-tail selling models and changing consumer lifestyle.

Q You joined the Kurl-on leadership team in 2019. What digital transformation have you introduced within your company since you joined?

Kurlon has always been a forerunner in using digital technology to facilitate ease of business for all stakeholders. In the last few years, Kurlon has been focusing on using technology to giving real time information, improving the customer experience and enabling virtual after sales support to stakeholders. We are using Artificial Intelligence, Block chain technology, Machine learning and Augmented reality in various business processes.

Q Kurl-on is one of the oldest Mattress brands in the country. How Mattress industry evolved over these years?

In the last decade, thanks to easy access to the internet, the Indian consumers have become educated on benefits of good sleep and the impact it can have one’s well being. This in turn created the birth of the mattress industry in India – huge spurge in the number of brands of mattress brands both at a local as well as regional level. With this sudden increase, the availability of machinery and suppliers to the mattress industry also has become favourable creating a sustainable ecosystem in India. This ecosystem today thrives under the Indian Sleep Products Federation (ISPF) – a industry association that connects consumers, channel partners with manufacturing and suppliers. Just earlier this year, we had the Sleep Expo which was attended by over a lakh of people from the industry – domestic and international.

 The online and e-tail channels have also opened up market opportunities to unorganised players who previously would only be able to sell to consumers walking down their street. It is delightful for us at Kurlon to see this progress as this helps us to continue to push the boundaries on more innovative products that give better value to the consumers

Q Today large mattress companies are expanding with CoCo and Franchisee-operated. Which operation works better for the home segment? What is the role of online in this plan

The Indian consumers have many options to shop for a sleep product from brick and mortar stores to online. Each channel has its own benefits and conveniences that serve a need for a specific segment of customers. The home segment is seeing a omnichannel approach from consumers.

Q Kurlon has a widespread dealer network and what made you start your own retail store network?

At Kurlon, we have always aspired to be as close to the consumer as possible. This has helped us understand their changing needs and adapt our products accordingly. In the last decade, we have seen consumerism go through a wave of change with brands from every industry giving a more focused product experience. The need for us to open our retail stores was two fold- one to be able to test consumer acceptance to new products before scaling up for launch and two, to be able to have presence in new channels like malls – where our dealer network is not present.

Q How does the Indian mattress industry compare vis-àvis peers overseas?

Sleep is a fascinating topic all over the world and overseas, consumers are now realising benefits of coir based natural products – A focus brought in mainly because we are spending so much of time on our mattresses today. In India, coir has always been a major product category and continues to be a major contributor in the industry.

In India, the digital transformation of the common man has enabled a lot of entrepreneurs from both the organized and the unorganised sector of the mattress industry to leverage online and e-tail channels- this phenomenal access to consumers across geographies has been game changing where it is not just roll packed mattresses, but also regular mattresses from the local “gadda” to the high end premium mattresses that are today available from the comfort of one’s home.

Q How acquisition of Spring Air and Englader brand of mattresses helped Kurl-on?

The Indian consumer in the premium segment today is well travelled and wants products that he/she experienced overseas- we have a niche segment of customers who have created this demand; be it in gourmet food or luxury accessories. Mattress is no different and we have seen a rise in the number of overseas brands that are serving Indian consumers for more than a decade. Kurlon saw this as a opportunity to serve a new segment of consumers and we are proud to be associated with both the Spring Air and Englander brands as their Partners for the India.

Q In India, around 60 percent of the population still sleeps on some kind of cotton mattress. They don’t have access to affordable, good modern mattresses. What is avoiding this population to move to a modern mattress?

The Indian household has different needs as per the lifestyle. Most of the population today stays in studio style housing where the same room transforms from a living/ dining area in the daytime to a bedroom at night. Most homes don’t even have a cot. The limited space makes it a minimalist lifestyle, and cotton mattresses/ bamboo mats are easy to roll – making them a product of choice.

Q New mattress brands are entering India. Do you think there is enough market available for all?

Almost 20 percent of the world’s population is in India. With 1.5 billion people living in diverse geographies, India is a unique market with customers for every category and price points. This in addition to the growing population and increased GDP is making India a exciting opportunity for lot of consumer oriented companies.

Q What is the USP of Kurl-On in India?

Kurlon is not just a mattress- it’s a lifestyle. As a brand, we are in the segments of sleep, home and comfort. Over the last 6 decades, we have evolved from a coir product manufacturer to a household name for sleep. Today, we are aligned as a company to take responsibility for our business footprint, product circular journey and impact on the environment.

 Each product we design and bring to market is handcrafted with high precision, best in class quality and most importantly- a commitment to excellence – a commitment that is upheld by our suppliers, team members and channel partners. I invite you to experience Kurlon #LetsKurlon

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.