HomeBUSINESS‘Inflation has little effect on Indian festive season sales’

‘Inflation has little effect on Indian festive season sales’


NEW DELHI : Kitchen appliances and cookware brand Wonderchef, co-founded by Ravi Saxena (former head of Sodexo India) and chef Sanjeev Kapoor, has entered two new categories: Coffee machines and appliance renting. The 13-year-old company, which has Amicus Capital, Sixth Sense Ventures and Godrej family office as investors, is eyeing rapid expansion. In an interview, Saxena spoke of India’s growing coffee culture and a robust upcoming festival season. Edited excerpts: 


You raised money from Sixth Sense last year. Will you raise more money?

We are expanding fast. So, sometime next year, we may go for fundraising again. Last year, we grew by 30%, and this year we’re growing by almost 40%. Naturally, working capital is required for such high growth. Plus, we are investing a lot in design and development. For example, we have launched a full stack of nine coffee machines because coffee is happening in India. 

We’re designing the machines because 92% of Indians have coffee with milk, unlike in the West, where most people have black coffee— espresso shots and americano. Here, we have to design milk-heavy machines with inbuilt frothing. 

So, starting from a simple machine which costs about 1,500, we have the fully automatic machine which gives you a full cappuccino, including frothed milk. That’s priced at 90,000 and will be launched around Diwali. Others that cost between 14,000 and 17,000 can give you Starbucks kind of coffee at home.

So, passion for coffee is on the rise.

It’s already happening. I went to a mid-sized mall in Mumbai recently and found 11 coffee outlets, each one selling a coffee cup at 350 to 450 and each one having customers. The outlets are differentiated. Some are like Starbucks and Café Coffee Day, where you sit and have a nice experience. Others are just coffee carts in the atrium.

How much of your business do you see coming from coffee machines going forward?

Maybe 8-10% in two years. Consistently, every single day, 16,000 machines sell more than the 10,000 ones, and the 10,000 ones beat those priced at 6,000. So, the pyramid is inverted.

You have also launched a business to give appliances on rent.

Yes, it’s called WondeRent. It started with coffee machines, but customers can rent any of our appliances priced more than 3,000. Our target audience for this is the millennials who want good things in life instantly. But they do not want to own houses or durables and appliances. They prefer to rent and may want to upgrade soon. I see this business increasing. We are using a third-party firm which has developed the system for us. You can go to our site, and instead of Buy Now button, you press Rent Now. Everything from reaching the product to the consumer and collecting rent is done by the third-party firm.

What is your sense of demand for the festival season?

It has started well. One had feared that because of various inflationary pressures and other global uncertainties, there might be a problem. But I think India’s festival season is pretty much agnostic to all these pressures. I see a strong season building up.

Won’t higher prices impact demand?

In the last year, we took three price hikes as shipping costs and commodity costs went berserk. Since January 2021, the total percentage hike taken is 20-25%. But despite that, we grew 30%. 

How much digital media do you use to advertise?

We are about 10 times bigger in our social media assets than any other brand in our industry. We have almost 2 million followers on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube and do a lot of content-based marketing. We advertise on Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Flipkart marketing systems. 

What about television?

We have a campaign, but I don’t think we have been able to use it efficiently because TV requires huge budgets. In my opinion, for TV, if you don’t have 50 crore to spend, don’t do it. You will not even cut the clutter.

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