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Home decor is not trend-based but need-based: George Thomas, CEO, Bethliving

In an exclusive conversation with The Financial Express Online, George Thomas, CEO, Bethliving shared his thoughts on how the Home Décor Industry has bounced back after pandemic and the latest trends which aren’t just a trend but an essential element of people’s daily life at their home. Excerpts:

home decor
Bethliving is working on transformational technology whether it's the material we use or the products we create, it addresses problems in the traditional home decor industry.

During the pandemic, people didn’t travel and also spent a lot of time at home. This allowed them time to revisit what matters and the importance of their living spaces. Today, home decor is not a trend-based industry, but rather a need-based industry. These investments are made for a longer period and so if you make your investments based on trend, then it’s quite possible that with the new trend, your investment will become redundant. In an exclusive conversation with The Financial Express Online, George Thomas, CEO, Bethliving shared his thoughts on how the Home Décor Industry has bounced back after pandemic and the latest trends which aren’t just a trend but an essential element of people’s daily life at their home. Excerpts:

How important are sustainable materials in home interiors? Please shed some light on it

Sustainability irrespective of the industry is a very important factor today. In the old practices, when you look at setting up a plant or manufacturing unit, engineers start looking at how the factory location can be sustainable to the supply of raw materials. Today sustainability has a different meaning. Today looking at a particular product, the raw materials and its base materials need to come from a sustainable source and renewable source. It has to be renewable over a span of time. The thing about the home decor industry is that it is one of the most prominent reasons for the depletion of forest cover around the world. Apart from that, the processing of these products has aggressive use of chemicals, making it hazardous, which isn’t sustainable in any way.

This is where sustainability and recyclable materials come in. It is very important for families to look at their carbon footprint when it comes to building their houses. It is certain that as a country we have to start moving towards sustainable options. It is also in line with India’s commitment to increasing forest cover.

How can we make our interiors cooler and more stylish in summer?

Most of the home decor has fixed furniture which is made with a long-term perspective and not seasonal preferences. But it is important to choose the right colors and textures that keep you comfortable during all weathers. It is also important to choose the right materials that do not have seasonal implications for example water during the rainy season could affect the functionality of doors, etc. It is important to note that some of the materials deform during extreme dry climates and low humidity. It’s important to choose materials without seasonal consequences. In that sense, steel and stainless steel would be a safe bet as it’s an all-weather investment. In the furnishing bit, there can be seasonal considerations like cotton bedsheets in summers and darker in winters, same with fabric. You need the right combination to make the home comfortable.

How different is the Stainless Steel manufactured interiors or décor from the traditional way of décor that is done in wood or wood derivatives?

Traditionally home decor was done out of solid wood. In those days, our house designs were also different where living quarters were detached from the kitchens, probably detached by a small dining room. Water sources were away from the living quarters. Solid wood is expensive and is used scantly. But then came compact house designs, where everything from water sources to living quarters to wooden furniture is packed in a single dwelling. To make things more challenging, we also started using wood derivatives that are not so safe from a hygiene and fire safety point of view. Essentially all the wood derivatives are not fire-safe, they are not hygienic because you can’t wash them, and are not pest safe.

Secondly, the home decor industry is the largest consumer of forest cover around the world because of the use of wood. It is a serious concern. These products are not durable either. It is also time-consuming to make these products and install them in the houses. The process most of the time overlooks quality checks. These are the pain points of the traditional home decor industry. And the steel and stainless steel industry in home decor address all these concerns. Bethliving products provide water safety, fire safety, and pest safety and are environment friendly. Our products are quickly installed and easy to maintain.

Please share some latest trends in home décor? How do you see the consumer demand in the market currently?

Home decor is not a trend-based industry, but rather a need-based industry. These investments are made for a longer period and so if you make your investments based on trend, then it’s quite possible that with the new trend, your investment will become redundant. Our suggestion is to invest as per your family’s needs. As a trend, there are different accessories and fittings which keep coming out in the market and make your life easier. Bethliving has got multiple modules of different functionality and that is an ongoing process to bring them regularly to our consumers. The most significant transformation is that of the internet of things. We have already invested in this and acquired some patents in the domain of connected homes to make advanced home decor for consumers. We are certain when we bring those products to market it would not only be radical in nature, it will influence the lives of our consumers and their family’s health in a positive manner.

On your question about current consumer demand, post the pandemic we are seeing a good revival of the home interior products demand. There is considerable activity in tier 2 and 3 markets. To supplement this, we have new product segments like Work from home products emerging. I would say the market in most places has gone back to the pre-pandemic levels and some markets like the metros have exceeded that. In all, it’s a good time to be in the market with great products.

How has the customer’s demand changed over time, especially after the WFH concept came in and people started spending more time at home?

Consumer demand comes from two segments – the number of new homes and the other is renovation. The new home is an area where almost all home decor players play because there are no restrictions to work. In India, there is an ever-growing industry of new homes. The trend has declined during Covid lockdowns but government efforts have pushed the growth back in the segment. We are seeing huge demand in the country. In the renovation space, traditional home decor making remains a challenge since the family is already staying inside the house. Bethliving deals with this challenge by taking the required measurements and pre-manufacturing them at our state-of-the-art manufacturing, which also ensures quality and functional checks. Besides this methodology also ensures quick and quality installation with our unique fully factory-fitted module concept.

Bethliving has introduced the work-from-home products and is finding very good traction. It has also opened a new segment – a do-it-yourself(DIY) segment. It is really augmenting demand for our products. We are also getting new products in the areas like soft furniture. Overall, there is increased demand growth and we are confident times ahead are going to be really exciting.

Which are the essential elements one must focus upon for a better interior or décor of a home? How do you market your product, and what are the platforms customers are using to search for their home interior or décor needs?

Bethliving is working on transformational technology whether it’s the material we use or the products we create, it addresses problems in the traditional home decor industry. The product designs we do and the new products we launch, our work is already transforming in nature in terms of how we consume home decor. The patents we have claimed are a testimony to that approach. The ecosystems of products we have created help consumers pick, choose and customize home decor interiors as per their needs. All this is made available in three layers of technology platforms. The top layer is where we have the front end designing interface where consumers can interact with a team for designing the kitchen, bedrooms and the entire home room wise. Here the consumer details are received and processed by our team. The second layer looks after commercial plans. The third layer is the SAP based manufacturing software which interacts with the first two layers to complete the ecosystem and make sure the consumer gets exactly what they want from our manufacturing.

Bethliving has brought huge transformation with technology in the way this business is conducted. Our consumers can connect with us from anywhere in the world using this integrated technology platform. At the same time, we are offering a touch-and-feel experience at different store locations. We have stores in South India and Gujarat, we are looking at Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh as immediate markets. For the consumer it is a seamless experience of hybrid sales and delivery process at work.

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