American aftermarket brand for automotive care products, Turtle Wax,which entered India in June last year amidst the peak of the coronavirus pandemic, is steadily making inroads into the Indian automotive aftermarket.
“The response so far has been extremely encouraging,” says Sajan Murali Puravangara, country manager and director, Turtle Wax Car Care India, speaking to Autocar Professional.
While the initial months after the brand’s introduction saw sales being primarily dependentupon e-commerce due to several lockdown-related restrictions, Turtle Wax Car Care India eventually saw traditional retail channels opening up and more recently, in November 2020, it executed its strategy of setting up co-branded car-care studios in Gurgaon, Pune and Bangalore.
In this regard, the company has adopted a different approach compared to the franchise model that is prevalent in case of other renowned players in the market, for instance, its key competitor 3M India which operates 3M Car Care studios in multiple cities.
“In a franchise model, almost everything is entirely being controlled by the brand. But we really wanted to tie up with existing detailers who are doing very well in their cities.Here, we wanted to bring them on board and at the same time, leverage their brand equity as well,” explains Puravangara explains.
“It is a very capital-light business and these detailers get trained by us and only use Turtle Wax products for the services on offer,” he adds.
The Turtle Wax car-care studios offer a variety of vehicle detailing services starting with a basic car wash, interior spa, exterior treatments including hard-shell protection, and finally the flagship ceramic coating which varies from Rs 12,000 to Rs 40,000 based on the chemical compound and size of the vehicle. More premium graphene-based coatings are also in the pipeline and slated for introduction in a couple of months.
Furthermore, the company is in the process of expansion and will come up with seven more outlets in Kochi, Chennai, Mumbai, Faridabad, Kolkata and Siliguri, and one more in Bangalore, by May 2021.
Localisation – Step 1
Now as it slowly engrosses the end customer, particularly car and motorcycle enthusiasts who painstakingly maintain their priced possessions on wheels, the company is looking to also execute its strategy of localisation.
“In a month or so, we will start locally repackagingindividual product containers, and that is our first step towards localisation,” says Puravangara. To be able to do so, Turtle Wax Car Care India is going to import its large-selling products in bulk from the US.
“First, we will start off with a select few products – basically the fast-moving ones and as and when the need arises, we would start shifting some of our other products as well.”
The company is currently in a discussion phase of zeroing down upon a repackaging unit in Bangalore, where its head office is also located. “It could be a third-party unit, but it would definitely be in Bangalore,” confirms Puravangara.
The next step, however, which would involve full-fledged manufacturing of its products from scratch in India, is still some time away. “Once we know that we have established this ecosystem for car-care products in India, we will start manufacturing locally,but as of now, there is also a big shortage of chemicals due to the global need for sanitisers due to Covid-19,” he adds.
But even as it partially localises some of its shampoos and waxes, a reduction in price is unlikely because Turtle Wax’s parent manufacturing facility in the US has a massive scale and therefore, it is able to meet a unit price which is much more competitive globally.
Ready to nip counterfeiting in the bud
From 24 SKUs (Stock Keeping Units) when it started off last year to 109 SKUs in less than a year, Turtle Wax has brought a wide range of offerings to the Indian customer. But, with a brand name that is quite renowned globally, it is ready to contend with the menace of counterfeiting or fake products in the Indian auto aftermarket.
The Indian automotive industry has been one of the sufferers of the menace of counterfeiting, fake as well as spurious products, with associations such as ACMA taking various initiatives, the biggest one being spreading awareness among consumers.
According to Puravangara, “While we haven’t faced anything as yet, being in a market like India, there could be such issues coming up. Therefore, we now have a legal team in place to counter these challenges that the Indian market can throw upon us.”
Actively engaging with OEMs
Like 3M India, which has widely collaborated with major OEMs to offer its car-care services such as cleaning, polishing and detailing at authorised dealer workshops and showrooms across the country, Turtle Wax Car Care India is also looking to move in the similar direction.
“We already started approaching OEMs around six months back but given the scenario due to the pandemic, there have been challenges with regardsto getting approvals.”
“Having said that, we are in advanced stages of discussions with some OEMs, and some dealer principals are supporting us as well. We are hopeful of getting some of these approvals by end-June,” adds Puravangara. “We are looking at the entire spectrum and talking to every car manufacturer, as well as some premium motorcycle companies.”
While the company is not expecting these additional revenues to contribute significantly to its top line this calendar year, it is banking on this revenue stream to be a “great pillar for its India growth storyCY2022 and beyond.”
Turtle Wax Car Care India today retails its products at over 8,000 aftermarket accessory and spare parts stores through its 39 distributors spread across India, and is crediting its journey so far to the Indian enthusiast community, whichis driving sales and spreading positive word of mouth for the brand.
“The traditional retail is now doing good, car-care studios are doing good, and our e-commerce sales are going from strength to strength. As of last two months, we have been doing really well and in-line with what we had projected for this financial year,” concludes Puravangara.