Where Blue Blood Companies Stand Out

Interview with Ms. Sabina Bhanpurawala

CEO – Foam Home India Pvt. Ltd.

Q What strengths and challenges has your company experienced in the last four decades?

One of our biggest strengths that I believe has been in defining our market and not deviating from it. Being a niche player has given us a thorough understanding of this segment; and thanks to our 43 years in business, we enjoy great recognition and reputation in the same. Another very important tradition we follow is to constantly innovate and modernize in every sense. Be it manufacturing processes or manufacturing advanced mattresses, I believe we are far ahead of the Indian market trends. This allows us to always offer products that are at par with developed nations. Of course, this model has its set of challenges.

Q Can you elaborate?

Scale is one of them. The dealer and distributor channels in India for bedding are very unorganized. These are not ideal to display or sell Premium products, since these products need a different consumer experience coupled with highly knowledgeable sales personnel. Our current challenge is spreading geographically for these very reasons.

Q In your reckoning – what are some of the emerging opportunities for the Indian bedding industry in India?

The pandemic has affected consumers like never before. Health has become a priority and, hence, so has Sleep. Consumers now delve into minor details before making a purchase for a mattress. They are more aware, knowledgeable- thanks to the internet. They look at the mattress as an investment. This gives manufacturers room to create quality products and not simply focus on cost- effective low-budget options. This has widened the Premium Mattress segment.

Q What excites you, or worries you, about the shape of the industry today?

I think it is exciting times for the industry. Of course, the pandemic has slowed us down but the direction in which the industry is moving assures that we will see a big change in the way consumers will experience the buying process. We see many company- owned stores with great displays now. Product portfolios have increased. There are plenty of options for consumers now. Communication styles have changed from being product-centric to consumer-centric. The entire industry is trying to educate the buyer about the importance of sleep which, I feel, is very important and a prime reason the industry has stayed at a nascent stage for so long.

Companies are now also exploring the digital space for awareness and selling. But this is also my area of concern.

Q Can you explain why?

It is great that the “blue blood” companies – as I like to call them – have moved online with their products making it easier for consumers to buy without moving out of their homes. These are established companies with established products who know and understand the mattress industry and belong to it. What worries me are the new entrants into the market who have very little experience in the industry. Most online selling companies are simply replicating companies from the USA. Right from the product appearance – to the content on the website – to the advertising style and message. It is important to know that India, as far as mattresses is concerned, is a very unique market. The Indian mattress consumer has very different preferences and needs when it comes to mattress-shopping. We see a lot of consumers who fall prey to baits like 100 nights trials and huge discounts provided online and find themselves stuck with an unsuitable mattress. While online is the future, I feel we still have some time till the market is ready for 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.