We have not yet found a commercially viable solution to recycling of mattresses

Mr. Mathew Chandy,
Managing Director, Duroflex Pvt. Ltd.

In a freewheeling interview with Mr Mathew Chandy, Managing Director, Duroflex Pvt. Ltd., he shares his views on the Circular journey of Mattress, the idea behind Duroflex Customer Experience centres and the industry’s growth path.

Q Buying a mattress is a big decision for Indian consumers. How do you influence them to buy your product?

To be fair, in a country like India, mattress is a significant purchase. It’s a high-value purchase for most people. We also say it’s one of the most important purchases that a person can make because they spend 8 hours of their daily life on a mattress. And there are very few products which have that. We are constantly communicating about the importance of sleep to consumers. The importance of sleep for good health and the importance of a good mattress is both for good sleep as well as for a good back.

I think in general, we also do a lot of education and awareness, which benefits the entire industry. We talk about the lifecycle of a mattress, how long the mattress lasts, how often it needs to be replaced, and how unhygienic a mattress gets after five to seven years of use. how it loses its supportive property, durability etc. So, I think constant communication, education and awareness to consumers is influencing them to buy the product. At Duroflex, we invest a lot into product development and design, and also the fact that we are now widely available. We have almost 10,000 touchpoints across India, and we have 60 experience centres.

Q What is the idea behind your customer experience centres?

We have invested quite heavily in user experience and customer experience. We feel the average general trade outlet
doesn’t do justice to the product. Sometimes they may not explain it so well. So, That’s why we set up these studios,
these high engagement, user experience, and customer experience centres. These centres will have all our products like Mattresses, Furniture, Sleep accessories etc for display and to feel the product. It will help consumers to decide on the
products. We did most of the investment during the COVID years when customers were worried about their health and immunity. So, it paid off for us.

Q You have two separate brands for online and retail. Sleepyhead and Duroflex respectively. How do you manage both brands? What are your views on Omnichannel?

In my view, omnichannel is needed because consumers are Omnichannel. I don’t think there’s any consumer today who lives purely online or purely offline. Even my 70-year-old mother buys products online. She buys her groceries online, she books her cabs online. So I think all customers are both online and offline, and therefore we have to be Omnichannel. There’s no choice. We believe that customers will research the products online and they may search for the products in stores as well, and they may complete the purchase anywhere. I think Omnichannel is not an option. Not being Omnichannel is not an option anymore.

On two brands, to be honest, we have to invest in building awareness for both brands, but they have different customer segments. Sleepyhead is for a much younger customer and Duroflex is for a slightly more evolved customer. So the target customer segment is slightly different. And, we have different teams working on the marketing and product development for these two different brands.

Q You have two separate brands for online and retail. Sleepyhead and Duroflex respectively. How do you manage both brands? What are your views on Omnichannel?

We have Alia Bhat for Duroflex and Ranveer Singh for SleepyHead and in the past, we’ve had Virat Kohli, Chris Gayle, Ab De Villiers, RCB as well as the CSK team as celebrities. We’ve had India’s best cricketers and favourite Bollywood celebrities endorse our brands and products. I think we should admit that our product in the past has been a little bit boring and sleepy. It has not been a high-engagement product for consumers. So, we have consistently for five years now, used celebrities to carry a message more strongly about the importance of sleep, the importance of health, and the importance of blended mattresses. And it’s paid off for us. It’s something that we’re committed to doing, something we invested in and just paid off. And we chose people who are good and who can resonate with that message.

People who are very conscious about their health and well-being and they’re and also people like Alia and Ranveer, represent the new India, a new, very bold, fearless and health-conscious India. So we chose them consciously.

Q What’s your opinion on the circular journey of mattress? What should industry do about it?

I think it’s a very important question which I don’t believe we have answers to. I think we have only one planet and through our consumption, we are slowly destroying that planet. And when I say we, don’t mean the mattress industry, I mean just all of us. So, finding a good use of the products which we produce and consume is very critical. I think in all honesty, we can say we have not yet found a commercially viable solution to recycling mattresses because the product is quite unhygienic.

I think at best right now, we’re able to make some flooring or use it in roads or cement. So right now the circular journey is not yet complete. However, some good steps have been taken by the ISPF. I think all of us have come and admitted to this problem and these kinds of big problems bring competitors together to work together to find a solution. I think that’s a great step that ISPF has taken. I’m sure in a few years we’ll find an answer. And if we don’t find an answer, we’ll be forced to find an answer. Because consumers want to support brands which support sustainability equally, the government is likely to come down with some kind of extended producer responsibility regulation, EPR regulation. So I think it’s our responsibility to find a solution. We need some very innovative young researchers and scientists to help us find a good use for these products end of life. But for sure one of the reasons people don’t replace their mattress which has been worn out is because they don’t know what to do with it.

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.