Over the last two decades, Saint-Gobain Glass India Pvt Ltd (Flat Glass Business) has been imparting increasingly higher value to glass. In the beginning, it was plain glass; today the company has added so much value: today glasses are available from Rs. 30 per sq ft for the everyday use glass to Rs. 3500 per sq ft for the digital glass!
A R Unnikrishnan,Director-Sales & Marketing, explained the continuous refinement in branding Saint-Gobain products as also the changes in marketing strategies: “in the early days, television was widely used for creating visibility. Remember the old TV ads focusing on the clarity and transparency of Saint-Gobain glass?
In the second stage, the focus was on architects, glass fabricators and building contractors. The message was on quality, reliability and innovation targeted at experts. The reach to consumers was through this influential community.
Reaching the customers directly…
In the current phase, the company has been attempting to reach the end user directly. Unnikrishnan pointed to glass widely used in interiors – for cabins, partitions and furniture. If the earlier attempt was in the exterior (viz facade), the focus today is also on the interior.
Unnikrishnan pointed to a lot of innovation on the introduction of systems for much easier installation. The new clip system has eliminated plywood, tapes or glue for fixing a mirror or glass on the wall. There is thus the promise of removing a pain point of cost escalations on trained installers. There is hope of moving to the American practice of helping the ultimate customer to handle such jobs on his/her own by innovative designs!
Unnikrishnan referred to technological advances that contribute to easier decision making, like the facility to visualise 3D images in small, handheld devices. Glasspro provides complete visualisation of the physical characters and realistic images. Such tools help select products at the design stage itself.
The Director- Sales & Marketing, welcomed regulations that take care of conformity to standards as also to compliance with quality and environment needs. The building code and BIS quality standards for coated glass have been introduced for the first time. Standards for glass have been prescribed for human safety, structural reliability and fire safety. Saint-Gobain’s expertise has been liberally extended for formulating these standards. BIS works with Glazing Society of India and with the Green Building Council of India for rating sustainability.
The Glass Academy has made a significant contribution. Important among these is making glass part of the curriculum for civil engineering and architecture studies.
The Director- Sales & Marketing said that south, west and north each account for 30 per cent and east 10 per cent of Saint-Gobain’s glass market.
Despite the large capacity created for glass in the country, imports continue at significant levels; imports of automobile glasses account for 18 – 20 per cent and of basic clear glass for 15 – 20 per cent, said Unnikrishnan.
That should change over time.