Bombay Design Centre gets artistic for Camlin 

After its D2C launch, the brand is looking forward to unveiling its campaign soon.

Mumbai: Well-known art and craft brand, Kokuyo Camlin is a pioneer in building quality products that are made in India and have been loved by millions of artists for over 90 years. The brand has partnered with design and tech firm Bombay Design Centre to build India’s first art and artist platform with content, creativity, and commerce at its core.

In a chat with, Kokuyo Camlin chief strategy and marketing officer Rishi Kakar and Bombay Design Centre founder & CEO Ankur Rander reveal interesting facts about Camlin as a brand and on putting together a first-of-its kind D2C platform for art and artists.

To get acquainted, the platform is built on bespoke technology architecture and a deep understanding of the needs of the art community; it's a radically fresh approach to an artist ecosystem and a transformative experience at every level.

Launched just about two weeks ago, the community platform is in beta mode and has already seen a 300 per cent jump in time spent on it. In the future, the brand aims to also do offline events for the community, bring in 500–700 education videos, and host the iconic Camel Art Foundation Contest with 50 lakh participants on the platform.

" provides a safe place online where artists can connect with artists; on the brand and product side, for the first time in nine decades, we are bringing together products from a large range of 1,000+ art supplies on one single artist platform. The platform will provide clear and expert information about the products and recommend combinations to help the artists improve their work," says Kakar.

Rander notes, "As one of the few firms in the country specialising in D2C brand experience design, we saw this as a distinctive opportunity for an artists’ community. Every photo, every word, every interaction, and every nuance of the platform is focused on making it a unique artist-centric experience. The experience is so simple and delightful that even kids love it. The backbone of this platform is technology. An example of this is the content management system that is custom-built in-house. It customises the experience for each product category while ensuring a lightweight front-end experience. This platform is a foundation for Camlin’s D2C journey and will contribute to their growth for years to come."

Better late than never?

Needless to say, Camlin is the leader when it comes to art products. Considering its leadership and ownership (literally) in the 'art products' category, shouldn't this platform have come a little sooner? Why is this the appropriate time to launch such a platform?

Kakar reveals, "This could have come sooner, but it has taken us two years of groundwork to arrive at what we have launched as a platform today. In these two years, we wanted to be certain that the platform would be on point as far as consumer needs were concerned. We did extensive research to understand the needs of all kinds of consumers—hobby artists, professional artists, and even children. We have made sure that we can satisfy what they were looking for from our products in general and also from Kokuyo Camlin in particular. This, therefore, becomes a more appropriate time for the launch since we are more confident about the needs of our consumers while we also see a greater acceptance of the online space."

The USP of and its marching user base

Discussing the uniqueness of the platform, Kakar points out, "This is a complete destination for someone who is interested in art, who wants to improve their skills, display their art, and would like to consider various products for purchase."

He also mentions that they are expecting to increase traffic on the platform by 500 per cent over the next few months. "We believe we have already achieved a good engagement time; however, the idea is to increase monthly active users and attract more signups to the community. Currently, 70 per cent of people signing up have registered and verified themselves," Kakar brings out.

Advertising and marketing for Camlin; rerouting from the traditional route

Kakar spells out that they are currently in the midst of launching a campaign that celebrates the fact that there is a new home for artists. "Kokuyo Camlin has been a valuable part of artists' lives, and now we are inviting every artist to join our community in one inspiring and inclusive destination," he says.

How does Camlin plan to get people who are actually used to the traditional way of doing art to be a part of this platform?

"There is a new behaviour where more and more consumers are not just going the traditional route. While they may be going the traditional route for buying, a lot of their research starts online. It is generally a mix. We will remain a destination for people who are interested in products, for people who want to display their art and seek feedback from community artists, for people who are interested in improving their skills and techniques, and for people who are keen to understand the details and nuances of the products that they buy," Kakar emphasises.

The art products’ category and other players; Camlin’s share in the category

Art products are a big basket, making it hard to define how big the art market is. In India, this market is not growing very rapidly, and Kokuyo Camlin has a dominant share of this pie; the brand has at least 60 per cent of this market across categories that would include artists, hobbyists, and students, Kakar states.

He adds, "There is no single player that we can say we are in direct competition with. We have a set of competitors in the student market, which includes Toms, Faber Castell, and other such products. On the other hand, there is also the hobby market, where we compete with players like Fevicryl and Pidilite. There is also the professional artist market, where we are competing with international brands as well."

"So, there are different segments of the art market, each with its own unique set of competitors. We haven't seen anyone else with a platform like ours, simply because they cater to a much more specialised market. We enjoy a dominant market share and cater to different segments, which gives us the ability to create a platform like this that different parts of the market can benefit from," reiterates Kakar.

The birth of

What made Bombay Design Center suggest the idea of such a platform to the team at Camlin, and how did they get them to agree to it?

Rander clarified, "The artist community has often been sidelined in the new era of hyper connectivity, screens, and snackable content. India’s most iconic art and craft brand, Camel, itself standing at the juncture of a transformation, saw this as a box of opportunities."

"Before this platform was built, we wrote down some hypotheses. What will happen if we build something like this? It obviously is a no brainer for anyone to sell online but we wanted to dig deeper. Is there something beyond the product that people want from our brand? Bombay Design Centre spent four months researching before developing the strategy and roadmap for the platform," he elucidates.

He goes on, "The research aided the firm in defining the three strategic pillars of the platform. A safe, conversational, and inspirational community space for the artists; a definitive content destination for visual art education; and an artist platform for all things Camel. The user experience built on the first principles of customer-centricity strengthens Camel’s leadership position and puts a stamp of modernity and innovation on the brand."

Also, Camlin is not like any other FMCG brand, an auto brand, or so. What did Bombay Design Center keep in mind while putting this platform in place? And what are the nuances that they wanted to bring out through this platform?

Rander explains, "The platform is a radical, fresh approach to an artist ecosystem and a transformative experience at every level. It is very artist-centric. The fact that artists are a community and there was no safe space for them online to meet, get feedback from each other helped us formulate an engaging strategy for the platform."

The platform has received extraordinarily positive feedback from the artist community. Artists are delighted to be able to upload their artwork, share their portfolio with others, and follow the work of other artists. Younger artists have expressed their appreciation, emphasising the learning aspect of the platform that enables everyone to learn and practise a wide gamut of techniques.

Touch-and-feel, D2C, or both?

With a strong offline presence and now stepping into D2C with Camlin’s e-commerce platform, how is the growth for the brand going to be like?

"We want to first create a community of artists. While Kokuyo Camlin has been quite ubiquitous as a brand, this platform will help us focus more on creating a greater customer affinity for the brand. People know the brand, and we want people to love the brand. That is the role of this platform at the moment," Kakar specifies.

As the ideal generators of putting a platform in place for Camlin, Bombay Design Centre must have really thought this through. What made them think that Camlin as a brand, which is more of a look-and-feel kind of brand, could do well on the D2C platform?

Rander of Bombay Design Centre says, "It’s a trusted brand whose products people have been seeing, touching, and using since childhood. Their presence in the offline world is unbeatable. We wanted to leverage this opportunity and go online."

It is noteworthy that the brand has over 2,500 SKUs, and no one has ever seen the entire range of products in one place or one shop!

"Apart from that, the usual convenience of doing repeat purchases directly without stepping out of home, people wanting to buy directly from brand-owned websites for orders above a certain amount for authenticity and getting the latest products, and other similar benefits that D2C offers, gave us a sense of the desirability of a platform like this. Also, the fact that the brand already has a store on Amazon and Flipkart and consumers are buying from there validates this proposition for us," he specifies.

The platform will provide clear and expert information about the products and recommend combinations to help the artists improve their work. Kakar mentions, "Our vision with the platform was to have an artist-first approach and make the sales channel secondary. We are proud to have stayed true to our vision."

"We brought Bombay Design Center on board as they were the only partner with deep expertise across strategy, design, brand, and technology, all under one roof. With a single partner executing your entire vision and taking care of photography, content, & post-launch product management, it was easy, efficient, and a delight for us to make this mammoth dream happen," he concludes.

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