Motoring: Ever since the launch of SAVSOL in 2007, the company has been rapidly growing in India. What would you say your greatest challenge to that growth has been?
GM: Savita is a 57-year-old company, so we are very well known in the petroleum field. We first launched lubricating oils in 1994, but launched our own brand, Savsol, in 2007. When we entered, the big challenge was that the market was already very crowded, with global players and three large Indian PSUs, and that was our biggest challenge – how do we differentiate ourselves amongst all these players?
M: You are currently one of the largest manufacturers of petroleum products in India. What goes into manufacturing on such a scale?
GM: Yes, in the private sector, we are among the largest manufacturers in India. Last year alone, we manufactured a volume of over three lakh kilolitres, Which is large in the indian context. We have three large manufacturing plants in india of these two are highly automated plant which are state of the art and help churn out such large volumes at competitive costs.
M: Do you think the Indian market is getting more mature with demand rising for high-quality lubricants? Is customer knowledge increasing or are they still relying on mechanics’ suggestions?
GM: There has been a huge change and I attribute that majorly to social media. With the advent of the internet, customers are doing their own research before making decisions, so today they have become extremely conscious about what they are buying, especially in the urban areas.
SA: To add to that, as the customer is changing attitude, which is the only constant about the customer, they are forming niches and companies need to provide for those niches. We see this in the automobile world all the time, with cars aimed at very specific segments. And companies like us, need to constantly innovate to meet the demands of the ever evolving customer.
M: Speaking of these niches, would you say that has been a major contributing factor for coming up with your latest lubricating oil, which is environmentally conscious?
SA: Yes, absolutely. When we did our research with our stakeholders, dealers, distributors, mechanics and consumers, we found out that everyone was talking about the environment. They all had a general desire to better the environment, and were wishing for a product like this. And that is why we decided to do it, and drive that change toward a greener environment. This goes in line with Savita’s philosophy. Last year we launched a biodegradable Transformer Oil in India, and this year we are moving on to this.
GM: When we commissioned the research, the findings actually caught us by surprise. All the way down to the mechanics. And we figured out why. You see, he’s the person spending 8-9 hours on the road working, and he’s exposed to all those fumes and the repercussions on the environment which has made him far more conscious than you and I.
M: How does SAVSOL plan to market this across India? I’m sure creating awareness about green tech is paramount, are there specific strategies in place?
SA: So there already exists a strong buy-in from distributors, retailers and mechanics. Obviously the environmentally conscious will be first movers on this. Speaking about the price, it will be marginally more expensive, but our research has shown that a strong market exists where people are willing to pay a little more to protect the environment. And that’s how we are differentiating ourselves with the competition. While everyone is just talking about performance, we are promising a product that is green, too. And we will continue using our current distribution networks, as they are very well spread out.
GM: Yes, these oils will be more expensive, as the agro-based feedstocks are more expensive to procure, so while we are very optimistic, we will have to closely monitor response to the pricing. So initially this won’t be part of our OEM range, but once we gauge the response, we do intend to introduce it to them, too.
M: What does the future of the SAVSOL product portfolio look like? What can we expect 5-10 years down the line?
GM: We are looking at extending our green initiative across our range of oils, even our industrial oils. Hydraulics, for instance, is a particularly interesting area, as they tend to suffer from leakages quite often in excavators in mines or construction equipment off-road etc. So for now, we are focussing on this in the two-wheeler segment, but the aim is to use that experience across the entire Savita Oil range, and slowly move toward a cleaner and greener future.