Vikram Raman: Creating Customer Delight with Racold Water Heater

Vikram Raman
Vikram Raman

Every company is established for, becomes successful because of, and remains there for its customers. Any business entity is more than a connecting dot between demand and supply. It is the enterprising solution to one or many problems faced by consumers. Thus, apart from being technologically adaptive and advanced, qualitatively superior and premium, quantitatively satisfying, and market-oriented, the most successful brands share constant customer-centricity as their biggest trait.

As a marketing leader disrupting and innovating how companies market, Vikram Raman has always put his customers first in his 19-year illustrious career. Presently working as the Vice President of Marketing and E-Commerce at Racold India, a fully owned subsidiary of Ariston Group, Vikram is a hands-on sales and marketing professional working in the food retail and consumer goods industry.

During his professional journey, Vikram has been responsible for: P&L, digital, product life cycle, channel management, consumer insight mining, brand communication, project management, product development, innovation strategy, growth marketing, performance marketing, competitive analysis and Ecommerce sales.

Throughout these times, Vikram worked extensively for the Indian (Urban and Rural), Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Singapore and Australian markets.

The Customer-First Focal Point 

Today, as the most promising vice president in the industry, taking us back to the beginning of his journey, Vikram says that fulfilling customer demands had been his biggest motivating factor to embark on a marketing journey and continue it to date. He shares, “Consumer insights have always excited me, and I believe in using those as a starting point in everything we do as a company. I have been lucky to have worked with brands that always emphasized the importance of being ‘customer first.”

Vikram began his career in the food industry, a very high consumer involvement category. He realized that instead of relying on expensive research, it is important to keenly observe a consumer’s journey. The excitement of converting those insights into products that the user will truly value is what makes a marketer’s job important.

Later, Vikram joined AkzoNobel, Dulux Brand, as a Category Manager of Enamels in 2007. He worked there for two years before joining Whirlpool Corporation and reaching the General Manager position of Marketing in South Asia and Oceania for Washing Machines and Refrigerators. He worked there for eight years before moving on as a Product Head of India at Samsung Electronics.

Finally, Vikram joined Ariston Group in 2020. He informs that all over the world, Ariston Group is synonymous with comfort, energy efficiency and respect for the environment. Thanks to its high-efficiency products, its plants are in compliance with the most advanced production standards and excellent pre-sales and after-sales customer support services. The Group has a leadership position in the global thermic comfort market for domestic, commercial and industrial spaces.

Fostering Constantly Effective Communication

Vikram states, “Sustainable comfort for everyone is our vision. Our mission is to be the world’s preferred partner in delivering energy-efficient and renewable solutions for heating and hot waterIn India, we are Racold Water Heaters.”

According to Vikram, technology and products are constantly evolving in the consumer durables space, so effective communication is the key. “Turning features into benefits clearly highlights how our product will add value to the consumer. Being part of teams led by excellent leaders, I learnt the value of my word and taking ownership of my actions and decisions,” he adds.

Racold has emerged as India’s leading water heater brand. Sharing the guiding philosophy that has propelled his organization’s success, Vikram says their guiding philosophy at Racold India is to relentlessly prioritize customer service, innovation and quality. “We believe that offering superior products and a commitment to customer satisfaction have been the key drivers of our success over the past six decades of our legacy in India. Our focus on technology, sustainability, and a customer-centric approach sets us apart.”

Delivering Energy-Efficient Solutions

The industrial landscape is continually evolving. Nonetheless, Racold maintains its USP as the most distinctive water heating solution provider and is currently positioned as one of the best companies. Vikram reiterates that Racold is a fully-owned subsidiary of global heating solutions’ leader – Ariston Group, offering a full range of water heating solutions in India. “Our strength is our cutting-edge technology, a strong commitment to environmental sustainability, and a wide network of sales and service PAN India. We maintain a strong market position by consistently delivering reliable and energy-efficient water heating solutions tailored to the Indian market’s specific needs.”

Racold has won the BEE award ten times in the water heating segment. The firm has also been honoured with accolades like Superbrands for three years and Most Trusted Brands of India in 2023. Its innovative products include Smart geysers that connect with Wi-Fi and boast features like Voice Control, Racold NET App to control the geyser remotely and schedule baths, Auto Power Off, and Smart Bath Logic.

Vikram informs, “Our products are designed in Italy by the renowned designer – Umberto Palermo.” Moreover, Racold is the first brand to offer Heat Pump water heaters in India and has a range of other energy-efficient products.

The Valorous Leadership

Vikram’s visionary leadership style is often recognized as a driving force behind his company’s achievements. Shedding light on his approach to leadership and team building within the organization, he says he believes in fostering a culture of innovation and empowerment. “We encourage open communication, collaboration, and continuous learning at the workplace. Our success results from tireless efforts by our dedicated team, and I’m privileged to work with a group of professionals who are passionate about our brand and its growth.”

The essence of water heating solutions lies in innovation, disruptions, and enhancing the end-user experience. Vikram says they balance operational efficiency and customer satisfaction by investing in R&D and understanding the evolving customer needs. By constantly innovating, they ensure that their products are efficient and offer a superior user experience, which is the key to customer satisfaction and delight. “In 2023, we have launched more than ten new products which boast of cutting-edge technology and advanced features in line with the market requirements,” he mentions.

Advanced Tech-Impetus

Digitalization and technological advancements are crucial aspects of the modern industrial ecosystem. Vikram also believes that with digitalization making its presence felt in every aspect of our lives, companies must stay on top of technological advancements. They at Racold have embraced digitalization and technology to enhance and constantly improve their products and services. “From IoT-enabled and smart water heaters to digital efforts, we are leveraging technology to provide our customers with more convenient and efficient solutions while reducing their environmental footprint.” They have also enabled multiple digital tools and initiatives like location-based store locator, WhatsApp Chatbot for service and sales, etc.

The workforce is the cornerstone of any successful organization. According to Vikram, the people that form their organization are their most valuable resource. They invest regularly in employee training and development programs to foster a culture of continuous learning and empowerment. Trust and teamwork are essential to cross-functional collaboration. “Our employees are encouraged to take ownership of their roles and contribute to our shared success,” he adds. This, in turn, has led to a highly motivated and skilled workforce.

Remarkable Victories Over Challenges

As a leader in India’s water heater sector, Racold has faced its share of challenges. Yet, Vikram says his team’s resilience and ingenuity triumphed over adversities always. Sharing one instance, he says that during the COVID-19 pandemic, they had to rethink the entire idea of doing business. “Our team quickly adapted to remote working, ensuring the continuity of our operations. We also introduced high safety measures for service and support for our customers, ensuring their safety and satisfaction during a challenging time.” Getting this done while working remotely required perfect communication and coordination across functions and locations, and it was truly remarkable to see what the team had achieved.

According to Vikram, the pandemic has reshaped industries globally. Also, continuously escalating geopolitical scenarios are adding to the unpredictability. He informs that they have incorporated risk mitigation strategies into their business continuity plans. This includes diversifying their supply chain, building strategic stock reserves, and investing in remote work capabilities to ensure their operations remain robust in the face of future uncertainties. “We constantly track industry and global trends and adapt our strategy accordingly,” he says.

Customer-Centric Future Wisdom

Businesses are a way for the Indian industry to pace its economic potential and capacity. Vikram advises other budding entrepreneurs who aspire to venture into the startup space to focus on innovation, build a strong team, and always stay customer-centric. ‘Success often requires resilience and adaptability, so don’t be discouraged by challenges and remain true to your vision.’

Finally, looking ahead, Vikram divulges their vision for 2024: ‘To continue leading the market with sustainable, technologically advanced, and customer-centric products.’ “We aim to set new industry standards while contributing to India’s growth through our commitment to excellence and innovation in the water heating sector,” he concludes.

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