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August 2017, Issue"Grilling Provides Great Social Bonding"

Manish Khandelwal Managing Director Weber India

In 1952 in Chicago, George Stephen created a culture and added a new dimension to the culinary experience. By cutting a steel buoy in half to form a unique design, he achieved the ability to control temperature, producing great tasting food. This marked the beginning of the iconic Weber Original Kettle grill and the philosophy, “If you're looking, you ain't cooking,” which embodies the practice of keeping the lid on the grill while cooking. Manish Khandelwal, Managing Director, Weber India is a gourmet lover and passionate about the grilling shares Weber's future plan and grill market in India with Better Kitchen. Excerpts.

Tell us about Weber and its future plan.
Weber is an American brand, established in 1952 and now present across the globe. It is the most premium barbecue brand around the world. Weber is in India for a long haul and at the moment we're busy in two objectives, firstly creating the 'grilling' category which is non-existent at the moment as no organized player is present in this category apart from Weber and people's perception to grilling is essentially limited to the open brazier grills which are locally fabricated and sold on footpath. Weber handles this by the way of experiential marketing by demonstrating the benefits of Weber grill. We educate people about grilling lifestyle which is essentially about social bonding and enjoying great food over the barbecue. It is a lifestyle activity which people are adopting fast. Secondly we're expanding our channel to reach out to customers in a better way. We're currently present through our stand alone Weber stores & Experience center's, traditional retail stores and modern retail channel besides being on the e-commerce as well. Our vision is to have each household own a Weber grill.

What is the size of grill market? At what rate it is growing?
As the category is highly unorganized, it will be difficult to put a number to the market size.

How Indian market is responding to your products?
Indian consumers are highly aware of global trends and look forward in adapting them at the earliest possible moment. Though cooking over fire is not new to Indians and therefore their love for grilled food is catching up very fast. Indian consumer is well-informed and looks at buying only those products which assure of good quality and hassle-free service and that is where Weber fits in perfectly.

How many products you are offering and what is the ratio of sales for commercial kitchen verses domestic kitchen?
Currently India range has charcoal and gas grills. In both the segments we have huge variety to choose from for the consumer. We have portable, compact and large grills depending on the usage pattern and the space availability at consumer's end. The retail business is much bigger as compared to B2B segment. Weber is a preferred brand across all 5 star properties and now is widely being patronized by stand-alone thematic restaurants as well. The ratio of sales will be 4:1 for domestic versus commercial kitchen.

What are the parameters you are distinguish between your grills and Tandoor?
Tandoor is a highly conventional way of cooking as compared to grilling which is far more modern. Tandoor in domestic homes is not possible due to obvious constraints whereas Weber grill can be placed in a small balcony as well. Weber grill is highly versatile as one can bake, roast and smoke besides grilling whereas tandoor has very limited usage. Moreover tandoor is usually operated by unskilled chef's whereas grilling is easy and for everyone.

Grilling is not a daily affair in household kitchen. How you are positioning your products?
Weber grills are highly versatile and besides grilling, these grills can be used for baking, roasting and smoking as well. Which means that a person can make starts, mains to a dessert on a weber grill which makes it highly ideal for Indian homes.

What is the USP of your brand?
Closed-lid grilling is the USP of the brand besides the 60 year old American legacy of the brand. Closed-lid grilling is much superior as compared to the open brazier grills and therefore the flavor coming from a Weber grill is unmatchable. Quality of Weber grills and the generous warranty of upto 10 years speaks volumes about the brand.

Why only grill? Any future plans to increase the product range?
Since 1952 when Weber started business till now, Weber is highly committed to provide the best barbecue grill to the world and therefore focuses on only 1 product rather than diversifying. We're proud that Weber today is the most loved brand across the globe.

How do you see Weber in next five years in India?
In 5 years Weber will be changing the way people perceive grilling. It will be far more preferred way to cook as it is healthy as well as it ensures great social bonding as compared to the conventional cooking over the gas stove in kitchen. Cooking a meal will not be only limited to female member but it will be a fun activity each family will look up to.

What message you would like to share with our readers in terms of Weber products and technology that you use?
Weber is for people who are very particular for their food and don't compromise on the flavor. Eating out has its own hazards to say the least and food grilled on a Weber is far more healthy than most of the cooking methods. Also it gives opportunity to us to step outdoors and appreciate the natural beauty. Moreover, grilling provides great social bonding wherein every member participates and contributes and it leads to great memories.