India a Big Market for Valvoline Lubes

Dr. Frances E. Lockwood
India's focus on infrastructure development spells a big and exciting opportunity for Valvoline lubricant products and services. According to our assessment, emerging markets in India for our lubricant business is well identified as our prospective area of growth, said Dr Frances E. Lockwood, Senior Vice President, Research and Development, Valvoline in an exclusive interaction with S.A.Faridi and S.K.Khanna during her recent visit to India in connection with her participation in Valvoline first chapter of Infra forum.

Talking about the impact of the current global economic crisis on the global market for lubricants in Europe and elsewhere, in general and on lubricants markets in India in particular, Dr Frances is of the opinion that although strong measures taken in Euro Zone appear to be restoring some confidence, but it is yet to cross the hump. We are all hopeful that the slowdown crisis looming large will be resolved soon. Lubricants market in India though slightly subdued at present, would not lose its sheen and vibrancy in long terms for the increasing infrastructure requirements. The need for good quality and reliable products and services is expected to open up further array of opportunities for advanced lubricants. Indian operations of Valvoline has been consistently making a valuable contribution to Valvoline global lubricant business with its unique advanced product lines. We have seen a rapid business growth in India where the company's brand has emerged as one of the fastest growing brands with its unique advanced lubricant solutions serving commercial and industrial sectors. India is vital country for us and our focus would be to keep participating in it with our plans to strengthen our presence in Indian lubricant markets. India with a large reservoir of talented manpower is indeed a good place to work. We are very keen to expand our footprint here with the introduction of new products, innovative value additions and top end technical training and support to the end-users.

For Valvoline, the growth market areas are commercial and industrial segments like power, mining, construction and related segments like construction equipment and machinery. Intervening in the discussion, SK Mukherjee, Chief Technology Officer elaborated that construction equipment market being diverse includes the construction, mining, cement and other such industries where equipment and machinery are deployed. It is a big market for lubricants. Our co-branding scheme with OEMs has made a very positive impact to push sales of our products and services. Explaining the concept, he said that co-branding and private labels are two well- accepted ways where lubricant companies like ours and CE partners effectively serve the needs of end users. Co-branded products are marketed both from the lubricant manufacturers distribution network and the OEMs dealership while private labels are marketed only from the OEMs dealers. In this way, the brand name of both the companies are simultaneously pooled thereby creating a win-win situation. We have very successful tie ups co-branding arrangement with almost all global equipment players. As market for construction equipment and machinery is set to expand, we would like to expand our association with other CE manufacturers, especially with those where we can jointly leverage our brands for the benefit of lubricants customers, explained Mukherjee.

Giving an overview of Valvoline Cummins presence in India, he said that it is a joint venture between Valovline Inc USA and Valvoline Cummins which is one of the India's growing lubricant marketers and producers of quality branded lubes. The USP of the company apart from excellent product quality, is its distribution network, which can serve almost all sectors even in the remotest corner of the country. At our end, serious attention is given for the lubricant selection and advice to our customers comprehensively about the benefits of choosing right oil to ensure optimum equipment uptime through our pre-and-post- market services. And we are at it to deepen our relationship with our existing and prospective customers through various programees. The ongoing meeting of the first chapter of Infra forum, which is being attended by Dr Frances is one of the initiatives. This type of customers meets are proposed to be held in different parts of the country to deepen our relationship with the customers, he added.

Talking about R&D support and superior technology required in the manufacture of quality lubricants, Dr Fances said that as advanced lubricants are based on additives, viscosity modifiers and base oils to deliver the required performance, extensive as well as intensive research and development support is crucial for products development and Valvoline places great store on R&D activities globally as well as in places where it operates. The contours of technology are changing fast. Today, the focus is on reducing emissions and fuel economy in contrast with earlier focus on lowering cost and increasing availability through additives and VMs, the entire process would call for strong R&D support. Giving her views on recycling of base oils, she said that it is an important environmental issue that needs extensive research back up. Simultaneously, a good deal of skill and care is called for on the selection of right type of base oils as users are demanding high efficiency products to ensure the durability of equipment and machineries ensuring smooth performance of their machineries and equipment. About price sensitivity of the end users, Dr Frances stressed that if end users are assured about product's value proposition, the price sensitivity can be mitigated. Paying due attention to pre-and-post-market services, holds importance to lubricant producers and we follow it logically along with continuously innovating our products range to provide value to our customers.
NBMCW September 2012
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