Turtle Wax recently announced India entry with a wide range of car, bike care products. With deep roots in Chicago, Turtle Wax has nearly 75 years of experience with its legacy dating back to the year 1944. The company’s founder Ben Hirsch invented “Plastone”, the world’s first-ever liquid auto polish and in 1946, Plastone was renamed as Turtle Wax. The company’s products are currently on sale in over 120 countries around the world. Express Drives recently had an interaction with Sajan Murali Puravangara, Country Manager and Director of Turtle wax India. Sajan gave us insights on Turtle Wax plans for India, the impact of Covid-19 on the business and also described the wide range of products, some of which are tailored especially for the Indian market. Here is the entire conversation:
Express Drives: Turtle wax is a renowned brand in the global market, so what made you make a decision of entering India in these current challenging times, when the market is badly hit due to the COVID-19 pandemic?
Sajan: Just to be clear, the decision wasn’t made during COVID-19, it was made about a year back and we had to undergo the entire process of setting up subsidiaries, regulatories, backend procedure which was going on for past 6-8 months. The launch was planned for the month of March, but due to COVID-19, it got postponed for 3 months. We’re continuing with this decision as we were planning this with a long-term perspective and Turtle wax has entered the country as a subsidiary. We strongly feel that this is a period where the world is suffering, but this shall too pass, and for a long-term perspective, we see a lot of potential in India.
Has the pandemic affected your plans in any way?
Lockdown for a couple of months has affected everyone, including us, it was literally a lockdown where nothing moved but from a strategic point of view or investment point of view, we haven’t changed anything. Pandemic is eventually going to change the way business is going to work, that disruption is going to come. People may resort to online platforms while the offline markets may take a lot of time to revive, but to us, it is a short term thing, and when the world is back to normal, things will resume.
I recently visited your website and saw that there is an extensive range of products, so can you brief what all types of products do you have?
Basically, car care products from a user perspective are categorized in 2 types of products. DIY (Do it yourself), which is a consumer purchasing a product and using directly on their car. Professional products, which can be applied only by the professional detailer on the car. We have both the ranges, but we are largely a DIY company globally most of the countries are dominated by DIY like UK and US because people want to shine their cars on their own. So, we have both DIY products and professional products.
Our retail products are broadly divided into 3 categories. Wash (Car Shampoo which is used to wash a car. There are various type of easy to use shampoo, some of them with larger foam, etc.). Waxes (Shine giving products to the car) and Interior cleaners (for dashboard polish, leather and fabric conditioner etc.)
Apart from this, we also have products which protects different surfaces of the car eg: a lot of new cars like Creta which have rubber and plastic trims, black color trims which add a nice color to the car. When these trims exposed to sunlight, gets oxidized and white spots can be spotted on it. For this we have trim restorer which when applied once or twice a month, it restores the shine. We have products to restore the shine on tyres, alloys and headlights. Headlights when exposed to sunlight turns yellow and reduces visibility so we have shine restorer products which restores the shine like the showroom.
Is there a rust remover as well?
Yes, we do have a Chrome Polish and Rust Remover, which removes rust from different parts of the surfaces like Chrome, or some alloys which too get rusted.
Do you have some products for two-wheelers as well? Can the same shampoo for cars be used on my bike or you have a different range of products for two-wheelers as well?
As per the product specification, it’s the same. There’s no difference when it comes to products for cars or bikes, the only difference comes in packaging. Users owning 2 wheelers prefer smaller packaging due to less usage of products for each wash. But product-wise, there is no difference.
Turtle wax is tying up with some OEM’s to retail their products in India. Can you name a few of them?
The thing is that the tie up has not happened yet, we are obviously targeting all the bike and cars OEMs in the country (big or small), but we haven’t signed up with any as of now, we’re currently in the process which got delayed due the pandemic and disrupted our conversation forward. The automotive industry itself is going through a rough phase right now. Hence, technically we haven’t tied up with anyone as of now but every potential OEM in cars and bikes are our target partners.
Going forward, what would be the strategy in the terms of retail across India? Will you be targeting Tier 1 and metros first or smaller towns and cities will also be covered simultaneously?
Fortunately, before the pandemic, we were able to secure our distributors across the country. So we have now 34 distributors right from Trivandrum to Guwahati, so, technically top 23 key cities are already covered but we are trying to cover State as a whole as well. The main target is to cover 23 cities which we have already covered from the distribution point of view. We will also reach Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities, if an opportunity comes, we’ll not be hesitant to look at Tier 3 as well. Tier 1 and 2, we would want to cover 100%
As you know, social distancing is currently the need of the hour and most of the OEMs have started their digital sales in order to prevent gatherings at the dealerships. So are you planning something on those lines that one could visit your website and order the products sitting at their home?
From a digital sales perspective, we have a toll-free number and an email id, where a consumer can order the products directly and we’ll make sure that the products are delivered to their home, we also have represented ourselves in leading E-commerce players like Amazon, etc. through a third-party seller so in future we are also looking at diff platforms where we’ll be able to present and service the customers but we see after 3-4 months the traditional retailers will also pick up the sales so I do think it will be completely diminished, so we’ll basically balance both and we think both will coexist in India.
Are these products already available or you’re yet to launch these products to the distributors?
The products are already available; we have made sure that it’s available in most of the retail outlets now, so consumers can actually go and pick up our products at leading car accessory outlets.
Can you give an idea about the price range of the products for car care?
Before getting into the price range of the product, I’d like to take a minute on strategies. Our Greenline products are the most popular across the globe and their prices are very competitive to the comparable competitors which can be compared to quality, we have priced very aggressively. We have introduced our hybrid ICE series which is a premium product and are premium priced when compared to the competition, we don’t want to lose out the opportunity at all segments. Greenline is priced very aggressively at entry segment and then we have hybrid and ICE series which are priced premium to the competitions. Coming to our price range, Greenline is priced somewhere between Rs 400 to Rs 900, and, hybrid series and IC series from Rs 1,000 to Rs 2,500.
Turtle wax has also tailored some products especially as per the Indian market and conditions, so can you shed some light on that as well along with some examples of the products you have tailored?
Just to start, Indian consumer wants something that is very to use for DIY and quick results can be seen, we don’t want to spend 3 hours on cleaning of a car, we want a product in which we apply and immediately the results can be seen. So, all our products globally are easily to use but we also have wet wax , which we can directly apply on wet surface and we don’t have to wait for the car to dry to apply this , which according to me will be very successful in India as it will cut down a lot of time in car wash, to around 1/3rd. The second product will be Clear View range which is basically applied on your shield and wiper blades to give a better view so this is another product which we feel will be very useful in the Indian market.
The other product as I told you will be Trim restorer, as our cars most of the times exposed to the sun and the oxidation is on a very high rate so most of our outer body parts (rubber and plastic) ,lose their shine very fast when compared to other parts. This product can be applied, and you can keep restoring the trims for a period of time. These are available globally but very personal and important for the Indian market. Last, but not the least, we have ceramic coatings which are very popular in India. So, we are exclusively bringing the ceramic coating to India.
What are your thoughts on the current situation and what might be the impact on the bike and car care market?
So, on the car and bike care market, there’s a lot of culture change in the last 1 month, basically DIY culture is on the rise, because most them are working from home, they are not willing to take their cars out to the workshop, rather they would do it themselves. They are ideally ordering and getting it to their homes, so I think the DIY car culture is definitely going on the rise during these times and especially on the car side. I think the other big piece is the interiors, people are now focusing a lot on the interiors as most of the time you are in the car and you are driving and you will make sure the interiors are clean and hygienic, therefore I strongly feel the interior car care is on a rise from now on, people will look for new products to take care of the interior issues and make sure that the interior is clean. This is another trend that we anticipate rising.
So, having that said, do you see lockdown as a big opportunity for your brand right now?
I wouldn’t want to say this as an opportunity, as this should not be an opportunity for anyone because this is a very sad scenario, I don’t want to sound opportunistic, but we are seeing the trend that has happened to the car care industry and we’ll have to basically change ourselves with the trend which is seen in the market but these are pandemic times and as a responsible organization we wouldn’t want to look at it as an opportunity, but yes, there’s a requirement that something is changing in the market and we have to act accordingly and make our products and services as per the requirement, so we’ll continue to change as how the pandemic is changing the world and adjust ourselves to that world which is a new world.
What makes Turtle wax different from any other car care brand in India? Why should I go to Turtle wax instead of any other brand?
One is the 75 year of heritage that we bring to the table that we are very proud of. We have been dominating for a very long eg: our hard-shell old wax is the oldest int that category and one of the largest selling waxes in the world. So, one reason is you’re dealing with an expert who is dealing with car care for many years and this brand is trusted by people across the globe for many years.
Second, In the last 3-4 years, if you see, Turtle wax has changed and adapted themselves from a very traditional great car care company to a very innovative company, in past 4 years our innovations have been multi-folded so people has started looking to us as a company focusing on all the changing needs of the consumers. So, it’s a mix of very modern outlook company coming from a very traditionally rich heritage so it’s a balanced combination of both which makes Turtle wax a strong choice for the customer.
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