Successful Brands, Successful Strategies!
The 7th Ivy League Meeting saw the Stories of two highly Successful Brands - 109°F and Manyavar - enthral the Audience with their highly Diverse and Successful Brand Strategies. Namrata D’souza Reports. Photographs: Dhiman Chatterjee
The Ivy League meetings have always brought together some of the sharpest minds in the apparel industry. Existing and upcoming leaders revel in each other’s illustrious company; each one learning as much as one can from the other. And the 7th Ivy League meeting held on January 6, 2014, at the Oberoi Garden City, Goregaon (East), Mumbai was no different! With the first day of the 58th National Garment Fair having just concluded, the Ivy League members were more than eager to settle down for a wonderful session of knowledge sharing. The meeting commenced at 8.30 p.m. with the theme—Indian Brands: Their Success Stories, having generated considerable interest even before the talks began. The brands invited to share their success stories—109°F and Manyavar— have emerged as true pioneers in the extremely competitive Indian apparel field; they were thus invited to share their brand story—how it all began, what were the strategies they put in place and the work culture that they employed. At the end of the day, the lesson to take home was that no matter how diverse a plan you use to position your brand, if you believe in it wholly, you will succeed.
THE 109°F STORY
Rahul Mehta, President, Clothing Manufacturers Association of India, as well as the Managing Director of Creative Lifestyles, kicked-off the meet in his inimitable style as he welcomed all the members present and launched into how his brand 109°F stood out from the rest. “109°F’s journey began in 2006 with a single EBO (Exclusive Brand Outlet) and a single shop-in-shop. Today, seven years later, we can boast of 338 shop-in-shops, 28 EBOs and a presence in 191 MBOs, along with having several outlets in foreign countries such as UAE, Kuwait, Iraq and Australia.” Truly, 109°F definitely stands as a market leader in the women’s wear segment. Founded by Birendra Agarwal and Rahul Mehta,
THE BRAND NAME MUST REPRESENT THE PRODUCT CONCEPT AS CLOSELY AS POSSIBLE. IF YOU GO WITH AN ETHNIC NAME FOR A WESTERN WEAR BRAND, YOU ARE SURE TO FAIL.
the latter had a lot of valuable points to share as to what are the pointers to be kept in mind while launching one’s brand and what are the ways in which a brand can be popularised. “The first thing to keep in mind is to decide which category of apparel one wishes to enter. At the time of launching 109°F, the women’s western wear market size in the country was quite small, while its growth potential, immense. Recognising this, we decided to enter the women’s western wear segment in order to differentiate ourselves and take advantage of this conspicuous market opportunity,” said Mehta. He went on to explain how the brand name could make or break one’s shelf life in the apparel industry and how it is a key element in the brand awareness process. “To be honest, the reason we went ahead with the name 109°F is because I liked the sound of it. But since we were aiming to be a western women’s wear brand, 109°F seemed a fashionable and westernised word. And that is the key. The brand name must represent the product concept as closely as possible. If you go with an ethnic name for a western wear brand, you are sure to fail,” explained Mehta. The different distribution channels and how each of them affects the positioning of the brand and the subsequent sales were also explained at great length, with Mehta conceding that 109°F does primarily bank on large format stores and MBOs for its sale, than on EBOs. “What we learned through all these processes was that to own a successful brand, one has to realise the difference between having a ‘manufacturing’ mindset and a ‘retail’ mindset, since one is working in a space that combines the two. We also learned how to inculcate a management culture into our working environment, the art of delegation and the need for young blood,” said Mehta.
EARNING RESPECT, THE MANYAVAR WAY!
That Manyavar stands as a reputed leader in the men’s ethnic wear segment was left to no doubt during the 7th Ivy League meeting. Mr Shreyansh Baid, Consultant, Manyavar team, made the dais his own during the meet, with each member present, staring awe-struck at Manyavar’s unbelievable success story. Manyavar, run by Ravi Modi, is one of the youngest brands on the block, having started out as a small shop on Theatre Road, Kolkata. Today, it boasts of 300 exclusive stores worldwide, is one of the only brands to not keep an EOSS, and holds the staggering record of opening two EBOs worldwide, every week. Shreyansh mentioned that the brand aims to be known as the most respected brand across the world; with this objective in mind, Manyavar’s success story runs on a 7-principle programme. The seven ‘P’s’ that make up Manyavar’s ethos stand for: pioneer, purity, parivartan, passion & pace, process, parivar and peace & prosperity. Putting each of these ideals into practice day in
A CLEAR VISION AND PLAN, ALONG WITH THE GUMPTION TO TAKE RISKS IS NECESSARY IF ONE WANTS TO EMERGE AS A WORLD LEADER IN AN INDUSTRY THAT IS REPLETE WITH COMPETITION.
and day out is what has made Manyavar rise above others in the men’s ethnic wear segment; albeit humbly. Manyavar was one of the first brands to realise that there is immense potential to grow as a men’s ethnic wear brand and as such pioneered the success of this segment and consequently, their brand. Realising which aspect of the market is yet to be tapped to its fullest potential and to carve a niche for oneself in that segment, is a lesson to be learned well from Manyavar. From having a unique merchandising policy to being the first brand to manufacture first and then take orders—Manyavar prides itself on truly mastering the word, ‘pioneer.’ Their principles are so deeply entrenched in the brand’s culture that it has now become a way of life for them. A brand must be ready to take risks and wear its passion on its sleeve in order to grow beyond limits. This fact was demonstrated well when Shreyansh mentioned how after opening a 10,000 sq. ft. store at Karol Bagh, New Delhi, just a few feet away, they opened a 21,000 sq. ft. store, too. Many chided Mr Modi saying that it was an extremely risky move to take, but the move paid off and they are now seeing roof-soaring sales at both places. ‘Going by one’s gut instinct’ is essential if a brand has to stand out from the rest and Manyavar has done so, splendidly. The values of parivar or family, prosperity and peace are what keep the team of Manyavar bound together. “In order to be known as the most respected brand in the world, we need to start from home. We need to respect one another. For the future, by 2016, the company plans to have 600 EBOs with one million sq. ft. of retail space and from 40 fashion stores today, we want to reach 100,” summed up Shreyansh, with a namaste that has become reflective of Manyavar’s culture. What each of the brands —109°F and Manyavar—demonstrated is that a clear vision and plan, along with the gumption to take risks is necessary if one wants to emerge as a world leader in an industry that is replete with competition. All in all, it was an Ivy League meet that inspired every brand to raise the bar higher for themselves and others and aim at reaching newer and greater heights.