‘Branded masks will be like walking billboards’
By Bhawana Anand - June 11, 2020
Smarth Bansal, DGM Product & Brand, ColorJet talks about the new venture Oxyvent
Could please share how the idea of a branded mask was thought up and what is your objective for Oxyvent?
As the world is in the middle of the pandemic crisis, the usage of face masks is essential for the conduct of day-to-day activities. We came across the idea that what if the workforce could be put to creating brand awareness and promotion. Since the use of facemasks has become mandatory, with companies liable to provide protective equipment to their employees, this basic safety tool could be used to revive business through promotion by means of unconventional and innovative channels. The aim is to open up new means of marketing for businesses through facemasks so that the costs on conventional marketing can be put on acquiring face protection for the workforce.
In this COVID19 scenario, various marketing models will change as per the new habits and media consumption. How do you see a branded mask becoming a part of marketing initiatives?
Many studies have suggested that the pandemic crisis will stay longer than we earlier expected. As life returns to normalcy and companies start their operations again, a very basic piece of protective equipment that has to be used in daily life can be put to use in marketing as well.
Imagine a workforce coming to offices wearing branded masks, working together wearing those masks and returning home donning the same mask. The number of people looking at them would substantially increase. It would be like millions of walking billboards on streets, on board public transport and at places of assembly. This would surely have a positive impact on the brand and more companies would follow the trend.
You have expertise in digital printing along with use of eco-friendly materials. How has your experience helped you in developing this new product?
We have been developing products for digital textile printing for some time now. Our flagship technology VastraJet has been accepted by textile manufacturers in more than 25 countries. We have had partnerships with world-renowned fashion designers like Emma Tranchini and Niti Singhal for exclusive printing of their fabric range with VastraJet. So, we understand how the fabric industry works and how to make it sustainable and eco-friendly. All this experience and our indigenous technology helped in the ideation and production of Oxyvent face filters. In fact, many of our clients in the textile printing sector have contributed to the development of this product.
It seems that wearing masks will be the new normal. What are the prospects for branded mask making business?
It is fairly an unexplored market yet. As the government lifted the suspension of export of non-surgical masks recently, some of the stakeholders indicated towards exporting masks worth $1 billion in the next three months. That gives a sneak peek into how big the industry could become in this fiscal and the next. With the largest workforce on earth, India is a raw market to propagate such an idea of amalgamation of branding and safety measures. Surely the impact would be huge.
How are you planning to promote this concept?
We are currently reaching out to our counterparts in the corporate sector directly. Apart from that, our marketing plan is visible on social media channels like LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Influencer shout outs. We are also focused on a campaign to promote the usage of masks in the community.
Could you tell us about the challenges that you faced in developing Oxyvent?
The biggest challenge was posed to us by the lockdown nationally. All the manufacturing units had shut down with labour mostly staying at home and unable to reach the units. Also, the procurement of raw materials brought in its fair share of troubles in the beginning. Distribution and supply chain management were also affected due to the lockdown but since the restrictions have been relaxed, the venture has gathered pace and is going on smoothly.
How has been brands’ response so far?
Oxyvent has been very appealing to the corporate sector. We have been getting queries from some of the biggest brands out there. We have received a positive and enthusiastic response from biggest brands across eCommerce, FMCG, fintech, banking, apparel and other manufacturing sectors. We have also been approached by companies in the UK, the USA, Spain, Italy, UAE, Thailand and many more.