Godrej Security belts up for a safe ride

The 119-year old Godrej Security Solutions (GSS) is in revamp mode. With over 35 newly developed products in the home-safes category, the company is pitching itself aggressively as a safety solutions provider with a tech edge. The company has set aside Rs 30-35 crore for its advertising spends in 2016-17, as it reaches out to customers in its new avatar.

GSS recently launched its first ever personal locker 'Goldilocks', targeted at the urban, working professional. The product, in a way embodies all that the brand wants to be: smart with technology, affordable and convenient. Priced at Rs 6,499, the locker is a box that weighs about five kilograms, is portable and is fitted with a touch panel. It also has an in-built alarm. "It has changed the definition of a safe", says Mehernosh Pithawalla, head-marketing, sales and innovation, GSS. It is like the locker coming out of the closet, he remarks.

Speedily on the tech trail

GSS is keen to build itself as a tech-savvy solutions provider for individuals. The company believes that there is a greater vulnerability among home owners and people in general leading to an increasing demand for safety solutions. It is thus a market waiting to be tapped. According to company figures, the home-security category has grown 35 per cent in the last five years from Rs 39 crore to Rs 145 crore. Home-safes, as a sub category, accounts for lion's share of this market, but the growth numbers for electronic home security products (CCTV, alarm systems) are sizzling. The segment has grown to Rs 11 crore from Rs 0.5 crore five years ago.

Currently, the company says, it is the market leader in home security in India. It has close to 80 per cent share of the market. The challenge however is not to widen its lead in the category but to increase the size of the market, which is dominated by a host of unorganised and unbranded players. To that end the targeted campaign that GSS has launched over the past couple of years seems to be working; GSS's penetration has increased to 2.7 from a meagre 0.3 per cent in 2010.

The company wants to focus largely on the home segment. "Our task is to grow the category. The faster we grow the category, the faster will be our growth," says Pithawalla. He points to another example where the company has used technology to smarten up an old product. 'Eagle-I-Lite', or a 'mosquito repellent of an alarm system' as Pithawalla calls it, is a wireless alarm system that can be plugged into the power socket. No wires running about, no installation hassles and affordably priced at Rs 4,000 - the product ticks all the boxes of home-owners.

The company took to technology with great vigour as it was the only way to stay relevant, it felt. Although it still sells mechanical safes, GSS is constantly innovating, fitting electronic safes with biometric scanners, digital codes, LED touchpads, auto freeze options after consecutive wrong attempts and such other features.

Getting the pitch right

For over five years now, GSS, a division of Godrej & Boyce Manufacturing, which is a part of $4.5 billion Godrej Group, has been campaigning for branded safety products. Pithawalla says the journey began sometime in 2010. "Till that time, the security threat wasn't too high and people depended on other things such as watchmen, double doors, even the dog," he says.

However, in the wake of terrorist attacks and growing crime rates, security rapidly rose up the priority list. GSS, which had a few products in this category but had never really focused too closely on its potential, decided to resurrect the category. It wanted to play on the growing security concerns among buyers but not really fan their fears says the company. "It was a very difficult task as we had to stoke feelings of vulnerability and yet not be intrusive," says Pithawalla. And thus was born a tongue-in-cheek campaign with a tag line, 'musibat kabhi batake nahi aati'.

The campaign strategy, to focus on security and not on the product and keep it funny and humorous, paid off. In the first year, the sales grew around 50 per cent. "Somewhere people started accepting there is a need for security, but wanted control in theirhands," says Pithawalla citing findings of a survey they had conducted. The feedback helped shape future campaigns and design products that would cater to this requirement.

It was a challenge, however, to get people to move from store-wells and bank lockers to home-safes. But the communication focused on convenience and the problems of depending on outside institutions for security solutions. The company also tied up with builders to ensure that safety systems were built into new homes. "We have reached a situation where architects and interior decorators make a provision for safes," says Pithawalla.

At the same time the company also invested in resolving its distribution problem. For years, distribution was GSS's Achilles heel. Consumers regularly complained that products were not easily available and GSS, which used to heavily rely on its own distribution channel, which consisted of COCO stores (company owned company operated), was in a bind. However it has since changed its approach and tapped intogeneral retail channels. Today GSS is present in around 10,000 outlets across the country.

The campaign has not only helped the brand reach out to customers, gathering potential buyers into the flock and energising old ones, but it has also helped expand the category. Pithawalla says that GSS has played the role of a category creator by providing branded solutions in a market that once looked at security products as commodities. The next step will be to convert new buyers into loyal, long-term consumers and that is where the journey is set to get tougher.

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