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Polishing to a finesse

Polishing to a finesse

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Last updated: March 20, 2024
by and Alex Morrell is a senior correspondent at Business Insider covering Wall Street at large.

The Waxpol Industries Ltd is a pioneer in vehicle care products. The homegrown firm commenced operations in 1950 with the Super Quality Hard Wax, more popularly known to generations of Indian vehicle owners as ‘Auto Polish’. Seven decades and over 100 products later, the Kolkata-headquartered player offers a diverse range of automotive care solutions such as washes, polishes, car care products, brake fluids, coolants, degreasers, specialty oils, lubricants, greases, engine cleaners, engine additives, fuel system cleaners and additives. Manish Pant of APF exclusively interacted with Shrey Garg, Director Operations & International Affairs and his better half Shreya Garg, Vice President Business Development & Product Promotion, to get a sense of the expansion plans from the company’s next-generation leadership.

For many of us, Waxpol products are a part of our everyday lives. Therefore, what are the new products that you are looking at launching soon?

Shrey: We have a lot of products coming up in all the segments that we cater to. For paint finishes, we have a remover that obliterates even the micro-fine scratches. We are one of the first companies in the world to have come up with a product like that. A lot of people have a problem with visibility while driving during the monsoon. So, we have come up with a rain repellent that can be used on the windshield to allow you to see better. It can also be used in areas that receive heavy snowfall. Like, we have had people coming from Srinagar telling us, “We were looking for a product like this; it’s a lifesaver!”

Shreya: From this year we have also decided to start focusing on homecare. Waxpol has always been a part of that industry because along with the auto polish, we have also been offering flooring and furniture polishes for 70 years. We have now launched many more household products.

Since most of your products have a strong brand recall, how does the company go about developing and marketing them?

Shrey: We go a lot by the customer feedback. Ever since the Indian market opened up 30 years ago, it has become highly competitive. We are constantly on our toes and keep innovating in our pursuit to improve our products. We strive to be even better than the best available by benchmarking our quality against global brands. We also try to factor in all the challenges. In the recent past, consumers have started talking a lot about using environmentally friendly products. However, Waxpol has been doing that from day one. For instance, one of our first products, auto polish is made from plant-based wax. And we started manufacturing this product in the 1950s when the environmental consciousness was not so high. After doing a lot of performance testing in our lab we rely on field trials to receive genuine customer feedback. That’s the best way of evaluating the real worth of any upcoming product.

Where are your R&D facilities located?

Shrey: We have an R&D facility in our head office in Kolkata. However, a major part of the R&D happens in our factories located in Ranchi and Raipur.

Seven decades is a long time for any company. How do you see the market as having evolved during this period?

Shrey: Consumers have become
a lot more conscious and that has affected their behaviour. Firstly, they want to use products that are safe and don’t harm them. Secondly, they look for products that don’t damage the environment. Of late, a third factor has also emerged where consumers also want to save water. As most of our cleaning products are water-based, it ensures minimum exposure of the user or environment to chemicals. Besides, we have a lot of concentrated washes that allow you to use less water while cleaning your car.

Shreya: The consciousness about personal safety, especially, is also growing. For instance, consumers have started actively looking for products like rain repellents. Earlier, depending upon availability, they would pick up an imported brand from a store. Now, thanks to social media platforms, people are better informed about the availability of Waxpol’s product in the segment and at an affordable price point.

You just mentioned about using social media as a marketing tool. Have you also tried leveraging the internet as a channel of distribution?

Shreya: Yes! With online shopping now becoming a huge trend we are trying to make ourselves available on all important e-commerce platforms. At the moment, we have an extensive presence on Amazon, with our entire range of products available there. We have started offering our products at a few well-known retail stores and are also present at some filling stations.

What are some of the notable
trends that have emerged in the last five years?

Shrey: Consumers have become a lot more aspirational. They tend to take better care of their vehicles than they were doing before. Previously, a lot of consumers weren’t even aware of Waxpol solutions being available for a lot of their requirements. But in the last five years, there has been a notable increase in consumer awareness.

Shreya: Take the very simple example of household glass cleaners which usually contain ammonia. They are perfectly fine for glass but people were also using them to clean other stuff as well. Slowly they are becoming aware that those cleaners could cause serious harm to non-glass products. Other than cleaning glass surfaces, our alcohol-based glass cleaner even kills 99.9 per cent germs. We have even created a pocket spray version that can be easily carried around by the user to clean his glasses, smartphone or camera.

Have you also undertaken any initiatives to educate consumers?

Shrey: Due to a shift in the paint technology, a lot of consumers have come to regard taking care of their cars as rocket science. We have organised several micro camps at filling stations in different areas to educate consumers on car care. Moreover, as our products are easy to use and non-hazardous anyone can use them.

Shreya: One of Waxpol’s first products, the auto polish was a little difficult to use owing to the texture of the wax. It required some effort on part of the user while cleaning his car. Although we have maintained this product due to its heritage value, we now have several do-it-yourself products that give similar results – maybe even better – and are as easy to use as applying skin cream. All you need to do is spray and wipe. That’s it!

Going forward, what will be your strategy to expand your footprint in the market?

Shrey: There are multiple parts to it with the first being to create awareness and availability. In terms of availability, we are already online and buyers can order products and take their delivery the next day. As Shreya mentioned,
we are also getting into interiors and home care.

Are you also targeting public transport?

Shrey: We have a lot of cleaners that can be used in public transport. However, presently, we aren’t specifically targeting public transport networks. But we do have a lot of lubricants, additives and cleaners for fuel systems. And we are also working on new technologies for electric vehicles that will help them charge faster. But that is an altogether
different segment!

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