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Mayank Sharma

General Manager, Luminarc | 27 Jul 2011

Since India is an important market for us and it has huge potential for growth, we have increased the marketing budgets to over 50 per cent from last year. We have developed new marketing and advertising strategies to increase our presence in the market and are positive about the response to the same... Print medium works best for our brands as it has maximum reach amongst our target audience. We plan to allocate 65 per cent of our marketing budget to the same.

Mayank Sharma is the General Manager of Luminarc, Arc International, the leading tableware brand of French origin, which has been present in India for more than a decade.

Sharma is an MBA with specialisation in Marketing from Dayalbagh Educational Institute, Agra, and has a professional experience of over 18 years in marketing and retail industries. Having worked in these sectors most of his professional life, Sharma knows more than a thing or two about what makes the Indian consumer segment tick. Armed with this knowledge, he intends on establishing Luminarc as the unparalleled tableware brand in the country.

He began his career in the year 1993 with Visa Petrochemicals Pvt Ltd. Since then, he has travelled across the length and breadth of India to get a better understanding of the Indian consumer segment and market trends, with special focus on the Indian middle class, which is projected to grow from 50 million in 2007 to 583 million by the year 2025. He is a seasoned professional and an effective change-agent with hands on experience in proactive management, marketing and developing a nationwide sales and distribution network.

Sharma joined the Arc international family in July 2007. He has been instrumental in initiation, planning, implementation, and an evaluated success of Luminarc today, which consists of a distribution network spread across 250 cities with 110 distributors and a total of 4,500 retailers. His vision for Arc International is to establish Luminarc as the top of the line brand in all tableware categories, besides developing markets for other brands. He intends to maintain focus on key states such as Kerala, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh, and gradually increase brand presence in other states in order to triple the current turnover within the next five years.

In conversation with exchange4media’s Deepika Bhardwaj, Sharma speaks at length about the growth plans for Brand Luminarc, the marketing and advertising strategies and key growth areas...

Q. It’s been more than 10 years of existence for Arc International in India. How has the journey been?

The journey has been great! In the past decade we have witnessed a vast change in the market and consumer environment. The Indian market has witnessed countless number of global brands entering the market and the growth of satellite channels, increased travels, and exposure to the Internet has exposed the Indian consumer to the best global brands available across the world. Today, the country is in step with the rest of the world in terms of global brands occupying a very substantial amount of space in shop shelves.

There has been an increase in numbers of both global as well as domestic players, which is a cause of concern to every existing brand. However, we have remained confident about the quality and service excellence that our brands have to offer and focused on marketing and advertising the brands more effectively. We are the only brand that offers all the categories in the tableware segment under one roof. The Indian consumers’ response to our brands has been fabulous and we look forward to catering to their needs for years to come.

Q. How important is the Indian market for Arc International? How much do the Indian operations contribute to the global business?

The Indian market has undergone drastic changes in the past few decades. Today, India is on the top of the list for marketing of our brands and is a very important player in the global market place. The main reason behind the growth of the Indian market is the fact that there is a huge change in consumer behaviour. The spending capacity is high and the choice of products available is getting wider, hence, it is a challenging market.

India contributes 3 per cent to the global turnover and will continue to remain a key market for Arc International.

Q. What has been the main USP of Arc International all these years?

Technological and creative innovation is the key factor behind the success of our brands. Since its inception, the early identification of trends, meeting the needs of consumers and professionals in the food service industry, demonstrating creativity along with the ability to look ahead, have all been fundamental aspects of Arc International’s corporate culture.

Luminarc products are three times stronger than competing brands. Our products withstand temperature differences of around 135 degree Celsius, which means it is possible to use a Luminarc product in the microwave even if it has just been pulled out of the fridge. Luminarc is 100 per cent food safe. The decoration materials used are totally food safe and compliant with EU safety standards.

Q. Could you elaborate on the range of products you are present with in India and also whether you are planning to introduce any new range of products in the markets anytime soon?

Arc International maintains its place in the Indian market through a portfolio of brands, which include Luminarc, Crystal D’Arques, and RAK, in the consumer goods segment, and Arcoroc and Chef and Sommelier in the food service segment. With these brands, the group offers to its customers, innovative and high quality products researched and developed to suit the varying preferences across the country. The Group markets an extensive range of tableware products under categories – drinkware, dinnerware, decoware, kitchenware and hot drinks. The year 2011 will witness the launch of two such collections called Diamax and Zenix.

Q. What is the category that you are currently playing big in? What is Arc’s market share in that category in India right now?

Drinkware is the leading category for us with around 10 per cent market share.

Q. Has it grown over the years? By how much?

Yes, our YOY growth in the drinkware category has been 20 per cent.

Q. This category faces stiff competition from the unorganised sector. How do you tackle that?

There is no doubt that the unorganised sector is big in India. While there is no short cut to tackling this situation, the best we can do is maintain our global quality and service standards and market our brands effectively. Since our customers are important to us, we also make it a point to warn them about the health hazards of using brands with no certification or accreditation whatsoever.

Q. How would you define Arc International/ Luminarc’s presence in the mind of the consumer? What do you think has helped the brand?

It is to our great advantage that despite not being present in the Indian market a decade ago, the awareness level of Luminarc was great. There are many Indian households that have been using Luminarc products for decades because the Indian consumer is well travelled and has had the potential to spend on global brands for a very long time now.

The Luminarc brand name is synonymous with quality dinnerware and bar accessories. Today, we have established Luminarc as an affordable product, designed with quality, luxury, style and innovation in mind. We have also customised our products according to the Indian dining habits and have received a very positive response from the consumers.

Q. You have recently hired a creative agency for Luminarc. Could you share the details of the agency and also what are your marketing plans this year?

We have recently signed on with Idiom Communication Pvt. Ltd. – a young, rapidly growing advertising agency founded by seasoned professionals from the industry. The agency’s core strengths lie in strategy and creative. Idiom has strategic partnerships with experts in the domain of media, online marketing, PR and exhibitions. The agency brings expertise, experience, ideas and energy, much to the satisfaction of clients.

Q. Which all mediums are you planning to explore? Which would remain your focus medium?

As of now, we plan to maintain focus on print media. Our next step will be to look at electronic and social media.

Q. For a category like yours, which medium works the best? How much are you investing in this medium and what is the percentage share of marketing budget across mediums?

Print medium works best for our brands as it has maximum reach amongst our target audience. We plan to allocate 65 per cent of our marketing budget to the same.

Q. Have the marketing budgets increased? If yes, why and by how much?

Yes, since India is an important market for us and it has huge potential for growth, we have increased the marketing budgets to over 50 per cent from last year. We have developed new marketing and advertising strategies to increase our presence in the market and are positive about the response to the same.

Q. Who are your main competitors? How have you maintained an edge above them?

There is no direct competition for us as Arc International is the only Group which offers a complete range of tableware categories under one roof. In individual categories of course, our competition brands are all the existing global and domestic brands in the organised sector. Our brands maintain an edge over the others by offering unparalleled technological and creative innovation, quality and service standards, and keeping pace with the current trends and consumer preferences.

Q. When are you likely to launch your new campaign? What is the idea that will be communicated?

We have recently launched our new ad campaign with Idiom Communication Pvt Ltd. The idea is to establish Luminarc as a global brand of French origin, which is now available in India at an affordable price. With this campaign, we urge the consumers to enhance their at-home dining experience with our vast range of tableware categories.

Q. Could you share some innovative methods that you have used to make brand Luminarc prominent at the point of sale?

We follow a client-centric approach tied closely to our business strategy. So far, we have used methods such as shop-in-shop in modern retail outlets, in-shop branding in traditional retail, live cookery contests and table setting contests.

Q. Which are the agencies that Arc International is working with in India in ATL, BTL, OOH and digital domains? Are there different agencies for different brands or is it taken care of by one?

We are currently working only with Idiom Communication Pvt Ltd, besides Mindshare, which is handling media planning and buying. All our brands are catered to by one creative agency only.

Q. Please share your plans for Arc International for the next five years.

The Group’s vision is to be recognised as the No. 1 leader in all tableware segments in India. Our brands have been successfully been launched in all major cities in India with 110 distributors and over 4,500 retailers. We look forward to a steady increase in the same.

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