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Jul, 12 2011

Pull of franchise

Shantanu DasGupta, Vice President-Corporate Affairs and Strategy, Whirlpool India, joined Whirlpool in 2002 as Vice President-Consumer Service and moved to Marketing in 2005. He has a successful track record of developing comprehensive brand strategies th

Shantanu DasGupta, Vice President-Corporate Affairs and Strategy, Whirlpool India, joined Whirlpool in 2002 as Vice President-Consumer Service and moved to Marketing in 2005. He has a successful track record of developing comprehensive brand strategies that have resulted in higher profitability. He tells Amanpreet Kaur about Whirlpool's entry into franchising.

Tell us in brief about Whirlpool and home appliance industry.

The home appliance market is approximately Rs 18,000 crore. This is the aggregate of purchases made in four categories, refrigerators, washing machines, air conditioners and microwaves. Whirlpool is a prominent player in all four categories with 19-20 per cent share in refrigerators and washers and 8-10 per cent in air conditioners and microwaves. We have an all India presence and our products are sold through 17,000 outlets, backed up by a service network of 500+ service partners, of which 85 per cent are exclusive to Whirlpool.

What propelled Whirlpool to fuel growth through franchising?

Retail expansion will be a key driver of growth. The advent of modern trade and specialty stores has enabled brands to showcase a wider range of products than was possible in conventional trade. We feel that exposure to a brand's repertoire of products as well as a brand experience can be significantly enhanced in an exclusive store. It is possible to offer a differentiated experience for aspiring Whirlpool shoppers through franchise outlets if there is a shared vision between the brand and the franchisee and the two fulfill their respective roles of partnership. While two-third of the market lies in large urban markets which will continue to see growth, we are also seeing demand growing in smaller towns.

For operating the store, what kind of training and support do you offer to franchisees?

Prior experience in retailing, availability of real estate in prime locations and a customer-centric attitude are important criteria used in our evaluation process. Thereafter, we provide training to the store personnel at two levels: product training and behavioural training. The staff at branded outlets should not only be well versed with the features of our products but also know how to approach shoppers.

How much budget do you allocate for advertising and marketing campaigns?

We have plans to spend about Rs 100 crore this calendar year. Most of this money is spent on mainstream advertising (TV and print), and promotions and a small portion is spent on market research.

Through which retail format do you retail your products?

We sell our products through all retail formats from specialty stores, hypermarkets and chain stores to single store outlets. We serve our retailers directly or indirectly through distributors. In addition, we have 75 exclusive stores of Whirlpool that are run by franchisees.

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