Written By Christina Moniz
D2C brands take the offline route to widen reach
Direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands are fluffing up the Indian mattress category with promises of lower prices, mattress-in-a-box convenience, 10-year warranty and 100-day trials. In a market that is predominantly unorganised, startups such as Wakefit, The Sleep Company, SleepyCat and Flo are aspiring to establish themselves as better alternatives to legacy brands such as Kurlon and Sleepwell, with most of them looking at the offline retail route too, to boost sales.
According to a Research and Markets report, while India’s overall mattress market has grown at a CAGR of over 11% in the last five years, the organised industry has grown at 17%. The mattress category in India is worth `12,000-13,000 crore; of this the organised segment commands 40% share.
New-age mattress brands are able to deliver products at lower price points by taking control of the entire consumer journey – from product discovery to post-sales support. Therefore, these D2C brands save big on distributor and retail margins, says Devangshu Dutta, CEO, Third Eyesight. These savings go towards compensating for higher customer acquisition costs and logistics, he observes. The elimination of the middlemen means that customers get their products at 30-35% less than what traditional players offer.
However, these digital-native companies are aware that they operate in a touch-and-feel category, which is why many offer a 100-day trial period. Priyanka Salot, co-founder, The Sleep Company, says that the product return rate is only 2-3%, and the returned mattresses are donated to charities but never resold. The Sleep Company, which entered the market a little over two years ago, is eyeing a turnover of `1,000 crore in the next five years, and has plans to launch its first offline store in a few months.
Online players also save on logistics, says Chaitanya Ramalingegowda, co-founder and director at Wakefit. “We implemented the roll-pack technology that allows the mattress to fit into a compact box. This lets us ship more products at a time,” he says. Wakefit has only two factories—one in north India and the other in south India—as opposed to older players with 10-12 factories across the country, he points out. The company hopes to close FY22 with a turnover of 630 crore, up from197 crore in FY20. It has one offline experience centre in Bengaluru, with plans to launch 10 more across five cities soon; these centres will not only be experiential, but also double up as booking/ retail sales outlets.
Rajat Wahi, partner, Deloitte India, points out that these new-age mattress brands must establish deeper offline distribution to expand reach. “After all, more than 90% of retail is offline in India,” he notes.
This is why D2C brands are not only taking the offline route, but also foraying into other segments like furniture and sleepwear. Kabir Siddiq, founder and CEO of SleepyCat, says the brand has plans to launch around four experience centres, and aims to become a one-stop shop for all sleep and comfort solutions, offering comforters, pillows and even bedding for pets.
Is the proliferation of D2C players giving legacy brands sleepless nights? Mohanraj J, CEO, Duroflex, says it has been akin to a “wake-up call”. He says the company has poured in investments into the D2C segment in the past few years, and now even has a completely online brand called Sleepyhead, catering to the millennial consumers. “Until recently, about 10% of our company’s growth was from online sales, but we expect that number to change to 30-35% this year,” he adds.
Despite the influx of new-age players, he maintains that Duroflex has doubled its growth in the past two years, with traditional retail registering 25-30% annual growth.