Shreyas Kulkarni

“A lot of our marketing efforts is not product selling but educating customers:” Duroflex’s Smita Murarka

The VP, marketing and e-commerce talks about the importance of lullabies and educating Indians on the importance of sleep, among other things.

“Art is, like magic, the science of manipulating symbols, words, or images, to achieve changes in consciousness,” said English writer Alan Moore.

Yours truly feels this quote comes closest to describe his feelings about lullabies. Slow melodies that are created for a singular purpose-build a lull and make the listener lose all worries and fall asleep.

And in a country like ours, there’s no dearth of lullabies. Most of us will remember our parents or grandparents take us onto their laps and croon a lullaby as we listened to their voices transfixed and before we knew it, we had reached the world of dreams.

19 March is World Sleep Day. Yes, there’s a day to celebrate sleep and let’s face it, we need it more than ever. For this day, India’s leading sleep solutions and mattress companies did their bit, it’s their bread and butter.

Wakefit showed us the final interview of its ‘Sleep Internship’ candidates. Sleepwell asked us to give a rest to everything and just sleep. And Duroflex went on to release the teaser for its digital series ‘Sounds of Sleep’. What is it? It’s a series where the sleep solutions company has curated lullabies from various Indian languages.

The series aims to “revive, celebrate, and recreate India’s rich tradition of regional lullabies in a digitally convenient way for new age parents looking to inculcate healthy pre-sleep routines for their loved ones”.

The six-episode series will feature prominent singers like Monali Thakur, Shilpa Rao, Chinmayi Sripada, Sanah Moidutty, Shalmali Kholgade, Geetha Madhuri and will be hosted by popular film actor and mother, Kalki Koechlin.

The show will be premiering on the brand's YouTube channel and social platforms and co-hosted on Sony's social channels as well. The lullabies releasing every Friday are a rediscovery from different parts of India in languages such as Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu, Hindi, Bengali, and Punjabi.

Smita Murarka
Smita Murarka

We (afaqs!) had a chat with Smita Murarka, Duroflex’s VP, Marketing and E-commerce about the series and how Indians are doing concerning sleep.

Edited Excerpts

How did you come across the insight for the series?

As a brand, we’ve been trying really hard to educate Indians on the importance of sleep. We’re researching factors that impact sleep…The University of California researched and proved that lullabies and soothing music helps babies sleep better.

And there’s the thing that we’ve forgotten our roots… our mothers and grandparents who’d hum lullabies to us, it’s important that we get back to our roots, our regional lullabies… We thought it would be great to connect our younger audiences to our roots.

This digital series is a property we would love to continue, own, and have different versions of it. This is season 1 so we thought it’s good to reach out in languages people across India recognise. We will follow this with versions that will aid sleep.

The series will play on YouTube. Why not create a playlist and release it on a music streaming app?

We choose YouTube as a medium because it has 450 million active users and it’s the number one streaming platform for video and audio and reaches more than 80 per cent of the internet audience in India. We’ve tied up with Sony music who will distribute it to music apps and we are also looking to connect with other music apps and put playlists.

How have people’s attitudes to sleep changed since last year?

The consumption and awareness around topics that matter the most happened. Health became a priority and it has three pillars: food, sleep, and fitness. Food and fitness have been given importance but sleep? We, as a brand, took it as a strong conversation and owned it as a mandate even when we couldn’t sell for the first three months of the pandemic. We gave out all the knowledge helping people understand the value of sleep. It translated into people looking for products.

Are the unorganised players still your biggest competition?

A lot of our marketing efforts is not product selling, it is educating customers about the importance of mattress, the quality of the mattress, and how they should choose something that suits them. It’s the backbone of good sleep – international markets like the US is completely organised.

Here, more than 50 per cent is unorganised and that’s the main challenge. It’s culturally driven that we don’t have to sleep on branded mattresses. That’s something we are trying to break.

Who is the Duroflex TG?

As a company, we want to impart the knowledge to the entire country. If you talk about the brand Duroflex, we are targeting the 20-25 upwards audience because they’re the decision makers and can influence their parents and grandparents. Also, we are not looking at our TG from a metro, non-metro perspective at all.

What are people searching online regarding sleep?

Today, consumers want to understand mattresses and are researching them. They are searching for how can I sleep better, what is it I can do to sleep better? On Quora and LinkedIn, we put up studies and blogs on platforms where consumers are looking for solutions.

Online or offline, where do your customers come from?

We’ve been a brand that’s been around for 50 years and have been primarily an offline brand. We started our journey online sometime back. The pandemic was also the time, we doubled down on our Duroflex experience centre. When others were shutting down, we were in expansion mode.

As an Omni-brand, we don’t want to challenge consumers and shift them from online to offline and offline to online… we want to connect them at touchpoints and consumers should convert wherever they feel comfortable.

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