Shreyas Kulkarni

The making of Duroflex’s foray into the furniture category

What started as an experiment in 2020 is now a nationwide reality.

Everybody has a favourite piece of furniture in their home, the home of their friends, and their relatives; no other spot will do. This possessiveness is born not out of first glance – or it does in some instances – but it often has to grow on you. The quicker, the better.

Mattress giant Duroflex shows this emotion in the maiden campaign for its furniture business. A group of friends is not ready to leave a home belonging to a couple among them because the furniture is horribly cosy and good-looking.

It grew on them over the course of the evening, and they are not ready to call it a night.

“Duroflex stands with brand ambassador Virat Kohli (for mattresses) on the health benefits of great sleep, but it did not want its furniture to resemble a health product. Nobody likes a health product in the living room,” says Mohanraj Jagannivasan, CEO, Duroflex Group.

This was the brief given to Tilt Brand Solutions, the creative agency behind the ad. The company wanted its furniture to not look like a boring product because “living room products are a style statement, consumers take pride, so there is more consumer involvement.”

The company feels the potential to grow the furniture business is manifold compared to mattresses and “that is what we are banking on.”

Founded in 1963, the Duroflex Group for the last six decades has sold sleep solutions. In October 2020 amid the Coronavirus and its induced lockdowns, the company decided to cut its teeth in the furniture business.

“Most brands, during the Coronavirus time, were cutting projects and expenses. We said it is the best time for us to do all experiments,” reveals Jagannivasan as the mood of the company at that time.

The company, he reveals, does consumer research twice a year, and had constituted a think tank which suggested this pivot into doing more around sitting.

Making this move was not too hard for the company because it had the financial muscle and confidence to pull it off. It makes its foams, has a coiling unit, has access to a lot of fabric, and has invested in a manufacturing unit too.

And while it moved into furniture with gusto, the CEO says the company will never go “into wall units and dining tables because it is not something we wish to own… you will see that we are doing a lot of innovation around sitting ergonomics, orthopaedics, and comfort.”

The move has paid dividends. Jagannivasan reveals the furniture category was the top seller in the marketplace and on platforms six months into its inception.

“We were the top sellers in sofa and recliners on Amazon Prime Day Sale (2023) and the company is looking to cross the Rs 100 crore mark in FY24.”

In the early days, the company bought and resold furniture, but it now makes its sofa sets, recliners, and ottomans. “We hired a few great designers from the National Institute of Design (NID) who're helping us curate good products at an affordable price,” reveals the CEO.

There is an obvious overlap between the mattress and furniture consumers of Duroflex. “We do a lot of referral stuff, do loyalty programs to existing consumers, I'd say even launching a sofa or recliner is helping us get a lot of new consumers for our mattress as well.”

People are visiting the Duroflex stores, says the CEO, to experience the product and they then decide to buy it from any channel they feel comfortable with.

The company has over 70 experience stores 1,500 to 2,500 sq. ft in size across India. “These are products including mattresses which beyond a price point are impossible for a consumer to buy just on the looks and visual images.”

Duroflex was a Southern-focused brand till five years ago. It all changed, he says, after casting actress Alia Bhatt as its brand ambassador. “Today our mix is 50:50 south vs rest of India, and we are no more a regional brand.”

Jagannivasan’s focus, as he builds the furniture business, is to shine the main Duroflex brand the brightest.

He reveals there is only a certain amount of money they can spend because “trade takes a lot of our margin.” Adding to this, there is a long gestation period before a consumer buys furniture or a mattress once again.

“Our large focus is to build the big brand Duroflex, and then get the consumers to come into our store and/or website and do discovery there, and then use our efforts to convert the bottom funnel,” he states. Also, the brand story is more important to the company to drive the top funnel, than the product story.

That being said, there are a few product-specific films on Duroflex’s furniture in the pipeline.

When asked about the lack of celebrity for the furniture category, the CEO was clear: “We have another brand called Sleepyhead which also sells furniture. Actor Ranveer Singh endorses it. We have Virat Kohli for Duroflex mattresses. I don't think we can look at or afford to get another brand ambassador.”

He believes the company still has a lot to do.

“We felt furniture, with the kind of success we had with mattresses, was a good category to get into and start organising it. What we have done is a small drop in the ocean, but we have definite plans to scale our furniture business.”

Have news to share? Write to us