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Great Hobby Ideas from Pidilite
Anuradha Shenoy |
July 23, 2005
When you say hobby, does it conjure up images of an old aunt crocheting dinner table napkins for the extended family? Well, in today's busy world, taking up a hobby need not be limited to the ordinary garden variety knitting, crocheting and stamp collecting. Nor does one need plenty of spare time.
That's the idea behind Hobby Ideas, the new store set up by the Rs 900 crore (Rs 9 billion) Pidilite Industries' construction chemicals division at suburban Mumbai's Inorbit Mall.
"It is positioned as a one-stop shop for all hobby products," states Abhijeet Mitra, head, corporate marketing of Pidilite.
With over 1,500 products that support 30 hobbies, the shop, in addition to providing materials, also strives to educate consumers about hobbies and crafts that are prevalent globally.
The hobbies fall into seven broad categories -- home craft (candle-making, soap making, gilding); fabric craft (fabric painting, silk making); moulding craft (pottery); paper craft; glass craft; kids craft (painting kits) and publications (which involve 'How to' books related to certain hobbies).
About 50 per cent of the products are made from domestic raw materials, and are priced upwards of Rs 150. The balance are sourced from abroad.
For instance, Pidilite has tie-ups with Eberhard Faber, the German manufacturer of clays, Amos, a Korean manufacturer of accessories, Sterling publications of the United Kingdom for craft books and Scholastic publications of the United States for creative activity books.
So why did Pidilite, which makes adhesives and other industrial chemicals, enter into this venture? The idea "to bring an international concept to the Indian markets", says Mitra, came to the company's chairman M P Parekh while he was visiting Germany and the US.
With over 700 products, some of Pidilite's high profile offerings are Fevicol and M-Seal. Its two main operating segments include consumer and bazaar products, which account for 70 per cent of sales, with the rest coming from industrial products.
Market analysts say that Pidilite now wants to milk its consumer segment to the hilt, as both the profit margins and return on capital employed on its industrial business are dwindling.
In this scenario, Hobby Ideas gives Pidilite a vehicle to sell many of its products under one roof. Almost 50 per cent of the hobbies in the store require Pidilite products as basic raw materials and are sold as part of the kits. For example, the fabric painting hobby kit contains tubes of Fevicryl and other kits have Fevicol tubes.
But to appeal to a larger audience, the store also sells non-Pidilite related hobbies. If for example, a customer were to request a hobby kit or a publication that they had seen in another country, Pidilite would source it from the original manufacturer in that country.
While the target audience for the store, when it started, was predominantly the housewife who had spare time on her hands and school children, much to Mitra's surprise, the customers who frequent the store now are using hobbies in their professions for a multitude of purposes. There are several interior designers who use the gilding kits and porcelain painting kits to enhance their services.
Then, says Mitra, there are customers who use these hobby products (for example, candle-making kits or soap-making kits) for purposes of small-scale home-based employment.
Pidilite is only testing the waters with this store in Mumbai. "Our future plans depend on the success of this store. Finding a good venue is a problem," says Mitra. If all goes well, by this year-end, there will be another store in Mumbai, and outlets in Ahmedabad, New Delhi, Pune and Bangalore next year.
In an attempt to convert the non-hobby pursuing population, Hobby Ideas has been hosting workshops in hotels. The two-day workshops, with a focus on any one particular hobby, are held on a monthly basis on weekends, and are priced at Rs 500-700. In addition, there are daily in-store demonstrations.
With only one store currently, Hobby Ideas is not a cost-effective enterprise, especially when it comes to importing materials. More stores would mean higher volumes to import which would definitely lead to economies of scale.
Also, finding trained hobby teachers domestically is a major hinderance in the case of certain hobbies such as making decoupage. So, Hobby Ideas currently invites international hobby teachers.
If this takes off, Pidilite's new venture may not just remain a hobby.