Article on DIY in Hindu BusinessLine

Sravanthi Challapalli, a Chennai based journalist has written an excellent article on the DIY scene. read full article below:

Just Do it...Yourself
By Sravanthi Challapalli

Hindu Business Line
20 March 2014

Self-help enthusiasts unwilling to wait for the elusive plumber or carpenter are driving the market for do-it-yourself products

Four years ago, when Indranil Banerjie, a foreign policy researcher and writer, finally found the time to indulge his penchant for woodworking and other DIY (do-it-yourself) projects, he found the going tough.

There was nobody to help him, carpenters were not interested in teaching him and, in any case, these skills took years to develop and perfect. Tools suited to his small scale of operations were hard to come by.

Books and the Internet were his sources of learning and, along the way, Banerjie started a blog, The Indian DIY & Woodworker, to document his learning and help others.

Initially, he bought quite a few implements that were not right for him. But slowly, over the past two years, the scene has brightened for DIY enthusiasts. A small clutch of companies began selling, online and offline, equipment for the DIY segment. And while hobbyists and supply are still small in number, a beginning has been made.

In a country where even a small repair or touch-up job has the average middle-class consumer calling for the carpenter/ plumber/ electrician/ painter, and then fuming over delays or shoddy work or overcharging, the DIY culture is conspicuous by its absence.

There is also a class and caste aspect to it, as many see these tasks as the domain of the poor and less-educated.

But Vijay Pandey, Vice-President, Bosch Power Tools, is seeing a gradual shift in attitude over the past five years. As quality of life improves, people today are willing to try things they were not ready for 10-15 years ago, and the incipient interest in DIY reflects this, he says.

“You can view a market like India, where ‘nobody does things like this’, in two ways: either as one with no potential, or one with huge potential,” he says. One of Bosch’s best-selling products is a car washer that promises to produce service station-quality results.

To Pandey’s surprise, Bosch’s DIY business is attracting more women than men. Their favourites are the hobby tools, such as the glue gun that works on glass, ceramic or clay, and garden tools such as lawnmower and hedge-cutter. Sales of DIY tools have grown despite little publicity, he says.

Slowly, marketers are catching on to the DIY trend. Nippon Paint (India) recently introduced a spray paint called Pylox Lazer that can be used to decorate fridges, helmets, vases, planters and even walls. This follows the recent launch of special-effect paints and designer finishes that incorporate consumer inputs, says Ramakanth Akula, President – Decoratives, Nippon Paint (India).

Interestingly, while DIY is marketed in India as fun and creative, its convenience and cost-saving factors are barely highlighted. In the US and Europe, on the other hand, cost is the prime mover.

For instance, in the West, paint and painter come at equal cost, but India enjoys relatively cheap labour and people here do not repaint that often.

“The only way for companies to create excitement around DIY products is to get consumers to explore their creativity,” says Akula.

The Internet, too, is feeding the DIY interest. Niaz Ahmed, co-founder of Mr. Thomas, an online start-up selling drills, wrenches, saws, screwdrivers and similar implements, says DIY often holds a “fantasy” element for its practitioners. There’s the lure of “posting pictures on Facebook of the table they made while their five-year-old child watched,” he says with a laugh.

Most of his DIY customers are IT professionals who are Internet- and deal-savvy. “First and foremost, it’s interesting and feel-good. Saving on professional charges is not the prime motivation,” he says.

Bosch, too, has taken the “fun approach”, says Pandey. It sees itself guiding customers from the beginner stage to explorer and expert levels.

At its DIY Square in Bangalore, customers can touch, feel and try out the gadgets.

Free training sessions familiarise them with the equipment and they can work with it under supervision.

In the last two years, Bosch has sold around 20,000 car washers. Its garden and hobby tools as well as power tools for woodworking are popular too.

DIY customers make up 60 per cent of Mr. Thomas’s business. Drills to drive nails into walls, garden equipment, pressure washers for cars and cordless screwdrivers are the popular buys.

There is a huge potential in India for the DIY segment, says Nippon Paints’ Akula. People neglect touch-ups because of the labour hassles involved. He terms it an unexplored big market. And what do these products cost? Nippon Paints Pylox Lazer is priced ?200-250 depending on the type of paint. Power tools are costlier, running into thousands of rupees.

Banerjie says the branded products, such as Bosch’s, are expensive but are handy for hobbyists. Shobha Industries and Japanese company Makita are among the other players in this segment.

With some research, elbow grease, poking around in hardware markets and experience, one may discover several pocket-friendly tools too.


  1. Nice article. I am happy to see the DIY scene catching up. The more the merrier. It is time to get the tool honchos to organize seminars on tools and call all DIY enthusiast to participate. If we create enough demand I think the company will start noticing. From plumbing, Carpentry, Electrical fittings, we can even organize training classes.

  2. Really nice article... Certainly a hobby that everyone should consider to pursue. The benefits that accrue out of it is manifold.


Post a Comment

Thanks for your message.