Benita Chacko

“We need to constantly improve with innovative features to progress”: CenturyPly’s Keshav Bhajanka on Firewall technology

In a chat with afaqs!, the executive director talks about the new technology that prevents the spread of fire.

After introducing ViroKill technology in its products last year, CenturyPly has brought in Firewall technology this time around, to resist fire. Gone are the days when plywood companies sold their products only on the plank of durability, longevity and quality. Now, they are constantly innovating to provide their customers with value-added features.

Speaking to afaqs!, Keshav Bhajanka, executive director, CenturyPly, says that the people already know about the quality but, to progress, the company needs to constantly improve and come up with innovative features.

“Our entire marketing strategy has changed drastically, from this general perception of the product giving strength, to coming up with a clear communication around one premise of the value we are adding. And, I think it has paid good returns,” he says.

The brand has been constantly innovating with its products. Last year, after developing the ViroKill ply, it continued to experiment on nanoparticle-based technology to bring more value-added features to its customers. That led to the innovation of Firewall.

“Our endeavour has always been to give our customers a product that is superior to what existed in the industry earlier. During our customer research, we found the risk of fire to be the biggest concern with wood and wood-related products. In line with this, we started developing a new technology to overcome this problem, and came up with Firewall.”

The technology entails the use of nano engineered particles that are embedded into the polymer matrix of plywood. This halts the rapid spread of fire by increasing the time it takes to spread across the product. The technology also reduces the quantum of toxic gases generated from the product to a mere fraction of what ordinary plywood will generate. This reduces the chance of asphyxiation.

The plywood also self-extinguishes the fire once the source of fire is removed. For example, a burning curtain falls on the product. Once the curtain extinguishes, the plywood will itself kill the fire.

This feature will be available on all CenturyPly products now, along with its previous technologies. They will also have the ‘Century Promise’ technology, which is a QR code to identify if it is a genuine product.

“Our endeavour is to repay the faith that our customers have shown in us. We do not believe in the business of gimmick, where you launch a new product and charge a premium to the customer. We've added three features (technologies) - Virokill, Century Promise and Firewall - at no extra cost,” Bhajanka mentions.

This year, CenturyPly is also looking to do a more comprehensive marketing strategy, with 360 degree visibility. It will be spending around four per cent of its annual turnover on marketing.

“Digital has always been a priority for us. We have been investing heavily in that medium and will continue to do so. But this year, we will be on television for almost the entire year. We will be on news channels for the entire financial year. We are also running a very aggressive radio campaign and have started a print campaign. We're trying to catch the customer’s attention through any medium possible. This is a very different approach from what we have done in the past,” Bhajanka adds.

However, after associating with the first half of the Indian Premier League (IPL) earlier this year, the brand will not be a part of the second phase, later this month. “We have taken a call not to associate this year, because it's a broken campaign. It wasn't very attractive to us. We will be back in the IPL next year,” he says.

CenturyPly is also focusing on content marketing to educate its customers. It spends 10 per cent of its marketing budget on content.

“We keep trying to educate our customers to the best of our abilities to help them make an informed decision. A 10-20-second TVC will always have a limitation. There's only so much you can communicate. Print ads or radio campaigns or content driven exercises on television carry the message in a little more detail. It allows us to explain the nitty-gritties of this technology. There will be more content initiatives in the next couple of months,” he says.

Bhajanka hopes that his competitors will also develop the same product so that the consumers will be able to benefit from the safety feature.

“Last year, after we came up with ViroKill, other brands also brought it. I hope that Firewall becomes the industry benchmark. If the standard of product in the industry improves, the customer benefits. I am sure that the industry will soon start adopting this. We always believe that as long as the customer benefits, in the long-term, CenturyPly will prosper,” he signs off.

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