In conversation with Dinesh Vyas, Marketing Head, H&R Johnson India

Dinesh Vyas, Marketing Head, H&R Johnson India speaks to The Tiles of India about product and technological innovation  

Established in 1958, H&R Johnson India is the pioneer of ceramic tiles in India. For over six decades, the brand has added various product categories to offer complete solutions to its customers of Tiles, Sanitaryware, Bath Fittings, and Engineered Marble & Quartz. All their tile products are sold under four strong brands, viz. Johnson Tiles, Marbonite, Porselano and Endura. Currently in tiles, the brand has a capacity of over 64 million sq.m per annum spanning 13 manufacturing plants across the country which is one of the largest manufacturing capacities in India.

In conversation with Dinesh Vyas

What are your cutting-edge, innovative products and what distinguishes these items from others in terms of their functionality, design, or materials?

It fills me with pride to share how H & R Johnson (India) has maintained its consistency and supremacy in bringing innovations in the last three decades. Many of the initial industry-first products like anti-skid bathroom tiles, stain-free tiles, scratch-resistant tiles and heavy-duty industrial floor tiles motivated the industry to rise above the routine. As a research-oriented company, apart from providing a wide range of the latest designs, HRJ also focuses on functional benefits and durability for different usage environments. Some of Johnson’s innovations include – Anti-static tiles, Anti-microbial (Germ-Free) tiles, High SRI tiles, and the latest offering – X-Ray Radiation Shielding Tiles in collaboration with CISR, India.

How has the response been to these innovative products and how are you promoting these products?

A truly successful innovation means creating a trend. And you see, many of those initiatives have become industry norms in India! However, not all innovations have brought huge volumes, partially because of being a niche and a new product. We are expecting better volume by further focussed promotional efforts. The distinguished innovation edge also contributes to shaping the overall perception of the company in an industry where product differentiation is minimal, thereby creating increased visibility.

What technological advancements has your company embraced in manufacturing and marketing processes? How much are these contributing to the business?

Apart from the continuous upgradation of factories, a few advancements have also been made by our own R&D team. One of the primary focus areas is on sustainability. HRJ was the first company in the industry to get carbon credit. On the marketing side, we introduced VR tools in 2006 itself. Our latest tech is – Johnson Tile Studio where potential customers can choose tiles based on AI-generated views of shortlisted products in their actual settings, you can call it a ‘trial room for tiles’!

When it comes to tiles, what are the typical problems or difficulties that consumers encounter and how are you proactively resolving these?

Who needs tiles? People want a durable, beautiful floor, bathroom, kitchen, parking, and other spaces. And they want the right products and easy installation too. While ceramic tiles are perhaps the best and most affordable material, I see two critically important pain points – a challenge in choosing the right tiles and the disappointments associated with installation.

The first pain is due to the absence of sufficient and right information about the characteristics of different types of tiles in the public domain which often results in performance issues. The other challenge I see is much bigger. There is an acute shortage of trained, qualified tiling masons and contractors for modern, large-size tiles which could result in dissatisfactory tiled surfaces and a blame game. This pain point is still largely unaddressed by the manufacturers. I see it as a great business opportunity as well.

HRJ is helping consumers with Tile-Guide literature and videos on our websites and social media. At a personal level, I have authored a handbook on modern ceramic tiles which can empower all construction professionals as well as tiling enthusiasts. But I see the need for an industry-driven initiative that will be a win-win for consumers and product-makers.

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