Key Success Point: Bringing newer technology, better pricing to the Indian customer

Bringing newer technology
In an intensively competitive tile and sanitary ware market, it is cutting edge technology, appropriate pricing and plenty of options that attracts the increasingly well-informed and sharp Indian customer, says Ajit Singh, General Manager, RAK Ceramics, India, in an interview with Mukta Naik.

Since when has RAK Ceramics been present in the Indian market?
RAK Ceramics brought its imported products from its mother plant in UAE into India about 5 years ago, and has started with local production a year back.

Bringing newer technology
RAK has one of the largest and most ultra modern Italian ceramic plants in the country, spread over 200 acres of land at Samalkot, Kakinada, and Vijaywada in Andhra Pradesh.

It is producing about 6 lac square meters vitrified Gen Next tile products and 45,000 pieces of sanitary ware per month and has the capacity to increase its capacity to the tune of three times of today’s production within the same plant.

Internationally, RAK Ceramics is a US$ 400 million plus group, with global production of tiles over 3, 00,000 sq. m. per day. In India, RAK has supplied products to prestigious projects like Inorbit Mall, Raghuleela Mall, Infosys, Reliance Infocomm, Hinduja Hospital, Yashraj Studio, Atria Mall, Godrej & Boyce Ltd, and now the Delhi Airport Project.

How does RAK respond to the changing and growing needs of the Indian market for ceramic tiles?
We respond to the Indian demand for ceramic products in a number of ways. Firstly, we believe in offering the latest product using the latest technology. Secondly, we push for high production volumes and best economy of scale; hence we can offer better pricing. Thirdly, we have a vast range of designs offer a wide selection to the customers. Fourthly, we bring international trends to the national market, owing to our international presence and experience, Fifthly, we invest in R&D at our mother plant that give us a competitive edge. Sixthly, we use the best marketing approach by expanding and promoting Points of Purchase through own and dealers showrooms. Further, we have efficient marketing and sales teams and motivated dealer associates who offer customers overall value for money and superior service. These are few points through which RAK India is responding to the changing and growing need of customers.

How does RAK differentiate itself from existing tile brands in the mind of the Indian consumers?
We differentiate through our Ps—product, price, placement of product i.e., Point of Purchase or dealer association, and promotion especially personal selling apart from other promotion tools. An international association of RAK has much better place in customer’s mind than the other Indian brands. This gets supported by best and latest product range.

What are RAK Powder Pressed Vitrified Tiles? Is this a new product for the Indian market?
Bringing newer technology
RAK’s new powder pressed homogeneous design vitrified tiles are completely different from the top screen printed soluble salt (liquid color) vitrified tiles that use old technology. To understand how, we need to go through the basic evolution of flooring material other than natural stones.

Cement screed – Mosaic tiles – Ceramic tiles Vitrified old technology soluble salt or liquid color screen printed tiles – New technology RAK powder pressed technology tiles.

The vitrified tiles using the old technology are decorated by bringing the design on it through screen print and then the firing and polishing is done. Hence design penetration is not more than 2 to 3 mm deep in a tile. In short, the raw tile body gets screen printed from top to incorporate the design.

In the new technology used by RAK, powder pressed tiles are made by mixing dry tile body powders (basic raw material) and dry design powders together and the design is seen once the tiles are fired and polished. In this, each tile looks natural and does not exactly get copied or duplicated in the design formation. In short, the raw tile body has already been provided with design powders.

The response for these tiles are fabulous in Indian market as the Indian customer is now much better equipped to understand in detail the product they intend to buy. They are looking for the best value for money.

What are the other products that RAK has introduced to the Indian market?
Vitrified tiles polished, using new technology, available in sizes 598 by 598 mm, 980 by 980 mm.

Vitrified body rustic tiles: Sizes 305 by 305 mm, 445 by 445 mm, 598 by 598 mm, 598 by 298 mm.

Sanitaryware such as water closets, wash basins, urinals, counters.

Can you give us an idea of your distribution model so that our readers can understand whether they have easy access to RAK products?
Bringing newer technology
We have 350 authorized, carefully selected RAK associates or dealers on all India basis, who have invested in their showrooms to give an exclusive display area (minimum 700 sq ft in each showroom) in the form of the RAK display house. They are well supported by our all–India sales and marketing team in every aspect of sales and brand promotions.

Apart from above, RAK has its own invested showrooms (minimum area 6 to 8000 sq ft each) in metro cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Nagpur, Pune and other cities.

For direct and bulk customers, corporate houses, influencers like architects and engineering companies, RAK has its special cell through its marketing team to take care of these customers in the best way.

What are the company’s future plans for India?
RAK ceramics has a long–term and as well as short– term plan for India. In the long–term, we are looking at capacity expansion in the form of production and the market. As a plan of marketing, RAK has defined plan to set up about 50 plus company owned showrooms in India. The short–term plan is to expand our roots in the Indian market by selling and promoting the latest tiles and sanitary products. RAK also has several other plans in its kitty for Indian customers.
MGS Architecture April May 2007
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