IFB: Washing Machines for an Emerging Economy

Despite its status as an “emerging” economy, India has the world’s fourth largest GDP—and it’s growing. Disposable incomes are rising, real estate is booming, and distribution networks are becoming more extensive and sophisticated—as are financing schemes. At home, lifestyles are changing too, with more couples working and demand for consumer goods increasing.

All of which is great news if you sell washing machines.

Ten years ago, only 7% of Indian households owned a washing machine. Everybody else did laundry by hand or used domestic help. Now, with the middle class growing, the washing machine industry is expanding at a rate of about 22%, or Rs 27 billion ($410M or €310M), each year.

But even as three million washing machines are sold every year, in a country of 1.2 billion people, market penetration is still rather low. And that means opportunity for companies like IFB Goa.

A Tool Company Does the Laundry

IFB is short for Indian Fine Blanks, because back when the company launched in the 1970s, its focus was precision tools, blanks, and assorted machine tools. Then in the late 1980s, IFB began a collaboration with the West German company Bosch-Siemens Hausgerate GmbH to produce washing machines for the Indian market.

While it was a smart decision for the company that became IFB Appliances, it wasn’t without competition. Familiar international names like Whirlpool, Panasonic, and LG quickly opened for business in India around the same time.

Finding a Niche …

IFB responded by pushing into tier 2 and tier 3 towns, focusing its marketing on semi-urban and rural markets. IFB delivers to 1,600 locations in India and maintains a 24-hour service line for customers too far away for a local service call.

…and Good Software

The company also competes by enlisting PTC Creo and PTC Windchill for its design and data management needs.

With a broad product line, IFB Goa uses PTC Windchill to reduce development time and establish a design release and change management system. In fact, he company has developed a web-centric automated design release process.

Since adopting the PTC software, IFB has drastically reduced the time it takes to find and reuse parts by 90%, just by using PTC Windchill’s attribute and content search. And versioning keeps track of even minor changes.

With PTC Creo, the company uses the standard in 3D CAD, with state-of-the-art productivity tools that promote best practices in design, while ensuring compliance with industry and company standards. Plus, PTC Creo is scalable, so the solution grows with IFB.

Washing Machine Top 5

The result?

Despite stiff competition, IFB consistently ranks as one of the top appliance makers in India, finding its washers in the top 5 in sales and among reviewers and bloggers who judge such things. Best of all, the company says its customers display “a level of brand loyalty enjoyed by few.”

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