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''When Mattress Begins To Matter'': How Kurlon Prioritised Quality Sleep To Become A Brand Leader

Here's a glimpse of Kurlon's journey right from its birth to what it is today - India's best-selling mattress company

''When Mattress Begins To Matter'': How Kurlon Prioritised Quality Sleep To Become A Brand Leader

Amid the fast-paced, constant hustle-bustle of our daily lives, we find ourselves recalling important deadlines, to-do lists, prioritizing work over everything else, but do we ever realized the importance of quality sleep? Good sleep does not mean long hours of sleep; it also means the right kind of sleep. Sleep affects our ability to focus, comprehend, and communicate.  It has a bearing on our performance, mood, and even interpersonal relationships.

India's leading mattress company prioritized a concept that Indian consumers were unaware of - quality sleep. Kurlon- the brand leader in the industry that it is today has not only invested in the idea but created an entire industry around a good night's sleep. 

‘A third of your life is spent in sleep — so sleep on Kurl-on' – this is Kurlon's message – the brand which applies a scientific approach, backed with research-driven innovation, to “sleeping in the right posture”.

From facing production restrictions in early years, to subsequent pan-India network expansion –and further, dealing with sudden increase in demand amid a pandemic – Kurlon has come a long way it its 60 long years of existence.

Here's a glimpse of Kurlon's journey – right from its birth to what it is today –  India's best-selling mattress company:

Early Years – Birth, Growth, And Expansion:

Born as Karnataka Consumer Products in 1962, Kurlon started its journey manufacturing rubberized coir pads that were used in automotive and railway seating.

‘'I think Kurlon got a lot of focus, as a brand in the 1980s. A time at which, there used to be restrictions on how many mattresses we could produce. People had to wait in line for sometimes months at a time to be able to get their hands on a Kurlon, and that's when we realized we had to expand,'' said Ms Jyothi Pradhan, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Kurlon.

‘'So in the 1990s we created our second plant in Bhubaneshwar. And over the last 20 years, we open plants in Gujarat, in Gwalior as well as in Uttarakhand. This gives us strategically located plants, giving quick and easy access, to material that can be customized to your comfort and to your liking, of a Kurlon,'' added Ms Pradhan.

This helped the brand to create a pan Indian network with warehousing, so that each of their counters could be of service to customers at a quick pace.

Kurlon owes its existence to a discovery by Mr Ramesh Pai, Chairman of major companies of the Manipal Group. Mr Pai was on a visit to Germany, when he observed that high-end motor car seats were made of rubberised coconut coir fibre sourced from Sri Lanka. This led to the idea of creatively utilising the coir husk available in India - one of the world's largest coconut producers.

Ramesh Pai's vision took the company to new heights of growth and evolution. Currently, Kurlon manufactures mattresses in 126 different configurations. Pan-India, their network includes more than 10,000 dealers, 72 branch and stock points, and nine strategically located manufacturing facilities across Karnataka, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Uttaranchal, and Gujarat. With state-of-the-art technology and a scientific approach, Kurlon continues to improve standards in the mattress industry.



Social Entrepreneurship:

Mr Ramesh Pai was a man with a vision of creating social entrepreneurship, according to Ms Pradhan.  Coir was a waste product, but Mr Pai wanted to create jobs locally with it. He sought to create a social entrepreneurship project, and then bring it out to the market. 

‘'When we grew as Kurlon, along with us, many of the coir manufacturers, the farmers, who used to get the coconut, and separate out the coirs, they grew along with us. And we're very proud to have created what is, a waste to wealth project, you know what today we call a social entrepreneurship,'' said Ms Pradhan.

In the next five years, India is going to be the most populated country in the world, with 1.6 billion people. The country will be responsible for 20 per cent of the world's population, according to the CEO.

‘'So we have to take responsibility for….Everything that we create, and rubberised choir is such a beautiful product that does not impact from the food chain, it is not from food value chain. It takes waste to wealth, creates localized jobs, part of the Atmanirbhar vision that our prime minister has and locally sustaining its own economy,'' added Mr Pradhan.

Scientific Research-Driven Approach – Norms, Standards:

Kurlon believes that innovation and research and design (R&D) is critical for the mattress industry, as an improper mattress can adversely affect the health of an individual. R&D in the mattress industry is not easy as the raw material has to be carefully chosen and crafted, and a lot of effort has to go in designing the mattress, to suit different body types and human postures.

‘'Our tagline says, ‘when mattress begins to matter'. That's where everything starts. So we have intensive, scientific way of doing things. We are in collaboration, and also in discussions with a lot of doctors, orthopedician across leading hospitals, to understand the sleep pattern, before developing a mattress. We also see that the age group, how they sleep, how they come out of their sleep patterns,'' said Mr Ravi Prasad, Chief Product Officer (CPO), Kurlon.

‘'We follow the ASTM standards. We have tested mattresses for the durability of the mattress before releasing it to the market. There's a flex test of three lakh cycles to confirm the firmness of the mattress. We also have well equipped labs in every one of our manufacturing facility so that we ensure anything which is going out of the factory is a quality adhered to. We also follow ISO norms on the process, which thrust on the quality,'' explains Mr Prasad.

The R&D team, which houses most of the factories, are in constant touch with the demands of the market, and the consumer needs.

‘'We do a pilot testing process of every product before launching it into the market. And we have developed so many products only when are assured ourselves, that these products can be launched. We take a lot of feedback from different people and only then we start developing the products,'' said Mr Prasad.

‘'The wedge pillow is a product now used for the work from home category. The huddle, is for the new agers. We also have neck contour pillow for those people who have spondylitis, are some of the products we have developed after the intensive R&D,'' added Mr Prasad.

Based upon the intensive research, Kurlon's R&D team also developed a series of mattresses such as health series, comfort series, trendy series, among others.

Kurlon has pioneered in introducing several products in India for the first time. The rubber coir mattresses are biodegradable, eco-friendly, which is the company's USP. Their memory foam series mattresses are especially useful for back aches, for the consumers. Their pocket spring mattresses, which is made out of MSI technology, gives a comfortable and luxurious experience. Kurlon introduced the straight technology in India for the first time and also launched a series of mattresses with a wedding series, which is a unique aspect for the Indian tradition fabric altogether. 

Keeping Up With The Changing Trends In The Industry

The industry was changing and there was a rising demand for foam, as well as spring mattresses. So in the early 2000s, Kurlon introduced spring mattresses in the Indian mattress market, and also went into foam and other products.

‘'Today the consumer wants to interact with the brand directly. And so we have our platforms, like the social media handles as well as our own website, where the consumer can come and learn about our products, the mattress industry in India itself has grown, educating the consumer, on what kind of support, what kind of comfort that they should be looking for,'' said Mr Pradhan, CEO of the brand leader.

How Kurlon Rose To Challenges Posed By COVID-19:

Today, consumers across all age groups have realized the importance of eight hours of quality sleep, and the impact of a comfortable mattress on their body, mind, and soul. The demand for a good quality mattress rose in India as people became more aware of its benefits, especially after the onset of the pandemic.

Adapting to new changes in the market, brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, Kurlon continued its innovation and sustainability. The pandemic changed the dynamics of the industry and companies had to come up with quick solutions to deal with challenges.

‘'I think we have come to a great solution, where we have all our products in miniatures styles. So if you want to experience a touch and feel for a Kurlon product. Our channel partners can send you one of the miniatures. You can experience it in the comfort and luxury of your home.

And then they can, they can measure your cot to fit the size you need, and we are one of the few manufacturers who make our own course.

We are one of the few people who can customize it to whatever cot size that you have,'' said Ms Pradhan.

Kurlon brought many innovative changes during the pandemic– including a digital app for channel partners, enabling contactless ordering, virtual inspection for consumer concerns, and an online consumer competition.  

During the COVID-induced lockdown, the Kurl-on manufacturing facilities operated with the highest level of sanitization. A new set of SOPs and guidelines were issued to ensure everyone's safety. Kurlon expanded the ambit of these guidelines to ensure the safety of its partners, and that the SOPs are followed at all retail locations.   

The market leadership and experience of more than 50 years helped Kurlon respond with agility and speed during the COVID-19 pandemic, when every industry was dealing with a sudden change in demand.

Kurlon bears the responsibility of the accuracy and completeness of the above article.

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