Back to the market "Touch & Feel" takes the stage | SURFACES REPORTER Market Update

With the onset of festive season and launching of new showrooms, the markets is starting to flourish.  Brands are also accelerating the efforts towards attracting the customers with touch and feel again surpassing the COVID-19 fear. A report by SURFACES REPORTER (SR).

No match to physical experience

A physical experience entails a customer to take the buying decision instantly after experiencing any product. Grandeur and opulence have almost become synonymous with the showroom design. However, with the onset of the pandemic, we saw a major decline in onsite activities leading customers to move to a safer online experience.

Read more: Asian Granito’s 10000 sqft Kochi Display Centre for Tiles, Sanitaryware, biggest in Kochi - SURFACES REPORTER Showrooms of India

Digitization became the key selling point in the branding activities. Nonetheless, there is still no match to the physical experience of browsing a slew of products and selecting among them.

As soon as the pandemic started abating, brands have accelerated their efforts to bring buyers in the market again with the opening of more experience centers across the country.


In the last few months, SR observed that many brands, spread across varied categories, have opened specialized showrooms and experience centers in various parts of the country. For instance, Somany Ceramics, a major brand in ceramic and allied products, has launched its largest experience center in Morbi, Gujarat, a city also known as the ceramic hub of the country. Asian Paints, one of the largest paint brands in the country has also forayed into the home decor segment with the launching of a Beautiful Home Boutique in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. Asian Granito India Ltd has inaugurated a 10,000 sq. feet luxurious tiles, marble, quartz and bathware display centre in Kochi, Kerala. Beyond Design, a bespoke luxury furniture brands has also recently opened its second home store. Similarly, many brands have announced their expansion plans in recent months including mattress brands like Duroflex and Wakefit who have also opened experiential stores in the past year.

According to the Retailing Sector Analysis Report, the Indian retail sector in India is emerging as one of the largest sectors in the economy. It contributes 10% to the GDP and 8% to the employment. The countrys per capita retail store availability is also among the highest in the world.

The report also suggests that the countrys retail sector is experiencing exponential growth with retail development taking place not just in major cities and metros, but also in tier II and III cities. It pointed out that the unfortunately, the retail sector was among the hardest hit sectors by the Covid-19 outbreak. Fashion, furniture, electronics, luxury retailers and automobiles were the hardest hit as consumers forewent discretionary purchases.

Many brand strategists say that while currently brands are prioritizing the digitized experience, it is mostly complementary to the physical experience and there is no replacement to it.

In an interview, Sameer Tobaccowala, CEO of Shobiz Experiential Communications, said that while the brands have moved online, the general sentiment is that there is return of touch and feel experience of the products as soon as the normalcy restores. This is because the stores provide a product experience and plays a vital role in enhancing the customer belief in it which is lacking in the online shopping experience. Moreover, the threat of receiving false or unreliable product always looms in online shopping which is almost negligible in case of offline product purchase.


It is true that there is no match to the offline experience. While most of the brands have digitized their product experience, the need of Touch-and-feel remains the same particularly in the building material segment where the online look of the product often differs from what is being offered due to the peculiarity of colour, shapes, sizes and technical properties. Therefore, the move to launch and expand the in-store experience is very welcoming as SR hopes that it will help to bring back the customers again in the market.

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