Liva as a brand is on the strong belief that sustainability and fashion can co-exist. The four-year-old brand claims to have rocked the market through its innovative campaigns, strong value chain and quality. In an exclusive chat with Textile Value Chain, Samuel Manohar, Senior President Marketing at Grasim Industries Limited, speaks on the success of Liva as a brand, quality standards and plans for the brand in the days ahead. Edited excerpts.
LivaEco brand basic concept and USP
We strongly believe that our natural credentials being from the forest, would be useful for the entire industry. We are planning to leverage and take forward to the consumer at the later stage. So, after launching LIVA, tasting success, we found that most of the global brands were very keen to have sustainable-enhanced fiber brand and we had already started working with them, they were essentially asking five things,
- Can we have certified forestry which is a forestrywardsship council in all what we can do so that shows that we are not cutting trees?
- Though we are cellulars from the trunk of a tree and cotton is from the flower of a plant, it requires a conversation what we call as a regeneration process from trunk cellulars to a fiber cellulars that requires chemicals, water and the way we treat it, so we ask ourselves if we can have something which is more sustainable in the manufacturing process of the regeneration for cellulars.
- Recognition of these attribute in some element or some systems which can happen, so we believe in collaborations like sustainable apparel coalition where you have the high index and for that factory module what we call it FEM ( Facility Environmental Module). Also what was appealing to the global brands was after we had joined ZDHC ( Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals).
- The chain doesn’t end with us in fact from forest to retail there are seven tears from one to seven tear members there, how does a brand make sure that all of these happens.
- Communication-as-a-branding service.
How Liva ensure that their channel partners also use sustainable products / systems / accreditation?
There are two layers we are put on this sustainability journey. One is about how we as the starting point do things right and though how do we create an Ecosystem. We call it an Ecosystem of getting it done right and also communicated and collaborated with other members in the chain. We had a training session and first worked with the brand, understood the supply chain, the brands, the garment manufacturer, wet processor, fabricator, spinners. Through training, we made them understand how our block chain works and how they should have a chain of custody a system which permits all these to seamlessly flow.
They also know how our tracer inside the fibre is there and how they need to segregate and process it right. That is as far as visibility and transparency go. Next, to the core elements of sustainability forestry wardship council which is for the forestry it goes with the system on a chain of custody and the blockchain, so that is taken care of. We have a LIVA standard for sustainability, we go do an audit through STS, they have the best standard which we have agreed on LIVA Sustainability. We studied how we can differentiate ourselves from China especially and we found a lot of good aspects. For example in Tirupur, we already have Zero Liquid Discharge we use clean energy wind or solar so these are not talked about.
Our training for the brands in India has been slightly different. We have shared with them what are the prospective advantages, particularly in India. Water is the major subject of concern one of the oldest area in the world is India and the population is growing with 16% while we have only 3.8 % only water. That sort of gap where industries are growing and we need to cut water more and for that, we have done plenty of things that will give maximum quality with minimal usage of water.
Please explain on your channel forum in deep?
LIVA accredited partner forum (LAPF) today has about 180 wet processors consisting mostly of woven and knitting, knit processing and woven processing. We will say one-third is netting and two-thirds is woven and now within LAPF not all are supplying to all the top brands. We had done a reverse mechanism as we know we have found out the suppliers to the global brands and then worked out a way to create a win-win situation for them. For the brand ‘W’ we are already working with the global suppliers.
Please explain your certifications
Soon, we will be having LAPF sustainability certificate this year so that it will be a step towards recognizing the value chain. We also have trophies and certificate for LIVA quality now this is something on sustainability. We feel this will have a key business impact part also because global brands clearly wants that sort of support from us which is an Ecosystem. They will not be able to do this entire ecosystem whereas we are able to do that in India. Moving forward, we are now extending this to Indonesia, Bangladesh, China and Turkey. The quality measures should be in place as your brand will be on the stake if there is an issue in the value chain.
And most of the companies fail to have an effluent treatment. In processing, if you see effluent, water, wastewater and emissions are not there in most of the spinning weaving and knitting houses. The other aspect is what these companies have to do with energy- be it spinning, weaving, knitting. Now, everybody has energy-conservation concepts we are building up now in the new system. We have also formulated seven parameters through an energy audit. We are also keen on any research around this.
If any channel partner does not follow the system as per accreditation parameters, what company will take steps against them?
We have stringent policies. We had already removed eighteen people who didn’t follow our quality standards in weaving or knitting. We promise the consumer that we offer natural fluid and fashionable fabric which has passed through an accredited value chain for quality guarantee. To maintain that we are even tightening the norms and rules according to the global trends.
I take this opportunity to thank BTRA, who is our agency who are assuring quality assurance. We are impressed with their ‘modus operandi’ of the audit. Our team, along with them will randomly choose companies and audit their process. Unlike a regular enforcing, their audits are a valuable addition to the channel partners. They do not just look at the quality norms. They have their own process system in place and out of that, they also provide their evaluation report called ‘improvement report’. Post developing the report, team BTRA consults with the channel partner and help them on the areas of improvement beyond LIVA also. Our intention is not to discriminate anyone but to maintain the brand value of Liva, we [manufacturers and channel partners] have to work together.
What are the latest innovations you are bringing in place for LIVA?
We have LIVA ECO system with collaboration with every stakeholder from forest to retail. We work majorly on five aspects- forestry, manufacturing excellence, high index Zero Discharge, water management, and tracing. We bet big on the tracing feature. This will help anyone differentiate a normal fibre and Liva Eco which has natural product in it. The feature helps in long-lasting aspect as you can find the quality of the product even after twenty wash. Through QR Coding system, we are enabling the tracking and thus we will be able to track the entire value chain on who is the spinner, weaver, knitter, processor and more. Thus we are not only guarding the value chain but also increase the confidence of the brands as the Liva Product that touches the end-customer is of the right quality.
Please explain on your marketing and communications
Our branding strategies involves three levels of communication- telling the clear features, second of the benefits out of the features and communication relating to credentials, media campaign, public-relations, making use of the influencers speaking on the product as well as the features. Those above-mentioned will be given in a simple language where a customer can understand.
How is the reception for Liva outside India?
Across the globe, we are marketing LIVA ECO. Even though we are not at consumer engagement, we work with brands across the world. Taking an Indian brand outside the globe is a different ball game altogether. Volume plays a key role for a brand to reach the global customer directly. Of course, we will definitely look at global consumers but in a phased manner. In the immediate future, you can expect smaller communication like hang-tags but not focused communication.
So right now what is the percentage of the revenue for this domestic phase and international phase
From India, we can say about ten percent of our sale is going for export. Because we make some specialty fibers only in India though we are a global organization. We also have some India-specific products keeping the psychology of Indian consumers and Indian value chain. There are also some products which we make in India for global needs. Thus our focus will remain equally for both the domestic and global market.
Please explain your production and expansion plans.
Yes, LIVA campaign is four-year-old and our sales had grown 80% in India. On the production side, we are expanding fast. We are coming up with a new facility in Karanj, Gujarat this year. Our expansion is also two ways- we have to shift a few plants in Indonesia, Thailand, China. Thus, the exports from India is very less unless we make those products only here. We are also investing heavily in domestic manufacturing. Today we are at more than Thousand Three hundred tons per day and almost another forty percent increase is expected to happen. We are having another six hundred tons per day through another new expansion, at Gujarat.