‘In the festive season, Wakefit sees 300% growth per month’

Wakefit Co-founder Chaitanya Ramalingegowda talks to e4m about the company’s marketing trajectory, the trust on word of mouth and more

e4m by Nilanjana Basu
Published: Sep 19, 2022 8:37 AM  | 6 min read
Wakefit

Earlier in the day buying furniture meant stepping out of your house, browsing through several shops and doing the necessary bargains to settle up your home. Cut to today’s digital age, shoppers have the luxury of sitting at home and buying furniture of their choice.

Chaitanya Ramalingegowda, Co-founder of furniture and home solutions company Wakefit, spoke to e4m about how the start-up idea for an online furniture company came through, and how it caters to different people of different demographics and geographies across India. 

Ramalingegowda spoke about having a successful festive season for the category and how re-innovation was a success mantra. “One of the other big goals for us over the coming days is to expand into categories that we are not present in and expand the selection in categories where we are already present,” he said speaking about the company’s future.

Excerpts:

How and when did Wakefit begin?

Ankit and I started this in late 2015, early 2016. The genesis of the company was because of a very simple observation that we did in the market. Ankit came from the foaming industry, so he knew the per kilo cost of foam and we knew the cost of labour. When he was getting married, he had to go to the market to look for the products to set up his home, he realised that the mattresses are getting sold at a very high cost. My initial instinct was that these companies are very profitable because there's so much of a gap between the cost to produce and the selling price. But a quick look at their financial statements told us it is not true.

We realised all of the difference between the cost and the customer price was going away in channel commissions. This gave us the confidence that there is some room to play here where customers are overpaying by nearly 40 - 45%. We end up saving that and instead of having middlemen, if we are able to sell the product online, customers will get really high-quality products for the true price.

We got started and listed the products on Amazon, and later Flipkart and then about six months later we came up with our own website. That is how the journey started and our confidence to deliver and earn customer trust came into being. We expanded into accessories, and from there to basic furniture and then to complete solutions.

What marketing trajectories have the company followed over the years?

Even to this day, customer word of mouth is a very strong part of why we are growing. But obviously after 18 months, basically somewhere around 2017, we started marketing. Like any company, you start performance marketing first and then you expand into influencers and other on and off viral campaigns. Then you expand into digital branding and last you go into ATL. So that is the typical trajectory that we took, where at each stage, we had to justify to ourselves and to our balance sheet that this is the right marketing mix. So, to reiterate, no marketing where we are fully dependent on word of mouth, then performance marketing, then influencers and viral campaigns, then digital brand new. And lastly above the line, ATL campaigns on television print and so.

The furniture and home solutions category is a very competitive market. So, what makes Wakefit unique in that space?

So, there are two or three things that are simply part of our DNA. And maybe that is a reason they're hard to just copy and replicate overnight. One is the fact that we are constantly pushing the boundaries and innovating on the product. The second big thing that keeps a differentiator for us is our post-sales engagement. There is a fairly large team of people who work on engaging with customers post-sales, checking whether they liked the product and liked the experience. All of this is documented and passed back to the R&D team. This builds a cycle of trust and that's what enables us to maintain a differentiator.

With all of this, you are catering to a very large audience and in different regions. Do you see a difference in the consumer behaviour in different regions and how do you cater to the needs of these different regions across India?

Consumer needs across India and consumer needs across climatic conditions are fairly correlated. For example, there are extremely cold parts of India like Jammu Kashmir and Leh Ladakh, there are extremely dry heat regions like Rajasthan and Hyderabad and there are very humid and hot areas like Mumbai, Chennai and other cities. So, when I said our R&D lab takes care of materials, and structural integrity, they are ensuring that the functionality is unimpacted even over 10 years across all of these very climatic conditions. That is the primary role of R&D. Within that there is another small layer of nuance, which is age. For example, people who are over 60 or 65 may prefer a really, really firm mattress because, for a large part of their life, they've slept on a cotton mattress. Because that generation that's what it used to be. So now we might want a firmer mattress compared to the younger demographic. They might be much more interested in memory foam because that is more exciting. So, there is a geographical angle to preferences and then there is a demographic angle to preferences. The products that we have created cater to these changes in needs.

What are Wakefit’s plans for the festive season and how are you planning to make the most of the season?

This festive season is an opportunity for us to serve a brand-new set of customers. So, just like every year, we have very ambitious goals on how many customers to serve, what is the revenue target and so forth. But at the same time, we also always have an NPS target because revenue with unhappy customers doesn't make any sense. So, we have a growth target as well as we have an NPS target. Usually in the festive season we see over 2.5 to 3x growth on a monthly basis, which means 300% growth on a monthly basis. This season expectations honestly are very similar to the last two years because ours was one of the few categories where the pandemic ended up spurring demand rather than muting demand. Both in Diwali 2020 and Diwali 2021, our category specifically saw a big uptick and we hope even this festive season it will continue to remain the same.

 

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