A Blend of Style and Qual­ity

Shoes & Accessories - - Accessories Watch | Wooba -

In In­dia’s ac­ces­sories seg­ment, Sahil and Shivani Ma­lik have al­ready cre­ated an out­stand­ing niche for their pre­mium brand Da Mi­lano. Rang­ing from mar­ket con­sol­i­da­tion to prod­uct di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion, to­day Da Mi­lano is a house­hold name. But in any mar­ket, there is enough space for ev­ery kind of prod­uct or cat­e­gory. Un­der­scor­ing this, the founders have launched Wooba, which of­fers high qual­ity prod­ucts at af­ford­able prices. Wooba’s tar­get au­di­ence is mostly youths, and the founders are quite op­ti­mistic that it will soon carve its space in the seg­ment. In an elab­o­rate in­ter­ac­tion with S&A, the founders dis­cuss top­ics rang­ing from the con­cept of the new brand to its re­tail strat­egy. Ques­tions in the first part of the in­ter­view are an­swered by Sahil, while the other part, mar­ket­ing, is an­swered by Shivani.

We no­ticed a gap in the mar­ket for qual­ity ac­ces­sories that are fash­ion­able yet price sen­si­tive. Hence the idea of a mass-ori­ented la­bel was born. WOOBA is a new con­cept with a dis­tinc­tive idea that ap­peals to the trendy and fash­ion-con­scious. – Sahil Ma­lik

Tell us a bit about Wooba.

‘Wooba’ is a con­tem­po­rary leather ac­ces­sories brand from the house of Da Mi­lano which ap­peals to fash­ion-con­scious, ef­fer­ves­cent and for­ward-look­ing youth seek­ing qual­ity prod­ucts at pocket friendly prices.

What’s the busi­ness phi­los­o­phy be­hind brand Wooba?

De­signed as a util­ity with style range, Wooba is a se­lec­tion of ac­ces­sories for daily use en­com­pass­ing flair of the West car­ry­ing a play­ful panache.

How would you dif­fer­en­ti­ate your prod­ucts from the com­pe­ti­tion?

Wooba is a per­fect blend of style and qual­ity at an af­ford­able price point. This is the key dif­fer­en­tia­tor of the brand. The same is re­flected in the prod­uct mix, pack­ag­ing and am­bi­ence in-store.

What mo­ti­vated you to launch Wooba?

We no­ticed a gap in the mar­ket for qual­ity ac­ces­sories that are fash­ion­able yet price sen­si­tive. Hence the idea of a mass-ori­ented la­bel was born. Wooba is a new con­cept with a dis­tinc­tive idea that ap­peals to the trendy and fash­ion­con­scious.

What are some of the chal­lenges that you are fac­ing since the launch?

Lack of good qual­ity re­tail spa­ces in malls, we, how­ever, are con­stantly en­gaged with malls and try­ing to find best pos­si­ble lo­ca­tions we can.

You have been in the In­dian mar­ket for long. Ac­cord­ing to you, what would be really high sales den­sity fac­tors in In­dia?

In­dia is a het­ero­ge­neous mar­ket with vary­ing buy­ing power and pref­er­ences. Ear­lier, shop­ping was viewed as a func­tional ne­ces­sity but now with in­creas­ing in­comes, fre­quent over­seas travel, in­flu­ence of west­ern cul­ture, ex­po­sure to the in­ter­net, avail­abil­ity of for­eign brands ac­cel­er­ate the sale.

In­dia, by virtue of be­ing so di­verse, is a tricky mar­ket for com­pa­nies to mar­ket their prod­ucts. How chal­leng­ing is this for Wooba?

Wooba is an in­te­gral part of our as­sort­ment pyra­mid as it helps us cover an im­por­tant and wide part of mass mar­ket in terms of pric­ing which Da Mi­lano had va­cated some years back. While Da Mi­lano helps us ad­dress the pre­mium end of the mar­ket and in­ter­na­tional di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion, Wooba helps cater to a wider de­mo­graphic with more com­pet­i­tive prices

Wooba is also help­ing us build as­pi­ra­tions and a con­nect with young cus­tomers to grad­u­ate to Da Mi­lano in fu­ture as their in­comes in­crease and choices evolve to­wards lux­ury.

Var­i­ous find­ings high­light that the women’s hand­bag mar­ket is dom­i­nated by un­or­gan­ised play­ers. What is your take on this?

Due to lack of fo­cus by or­ga­nized play­ers hand­bags and other ac­ces­sories till re­cently were con­sid­ered as just “Ac­ces­sories “, and fash­ion came from wardrobe. It is only re­cently that with ad­vent of fast fash­ion, ac­ces­sories have be­come part of fash­ion as wardrobes be­came more monochro­matic.

Lack of evolved lo­cal man­u­fac­tur­ing es­pe­cially of mul­ti­ple in­put com­po­nents and metal hard­ware meant im­ports was the only way to source. Price be­came the defin­ing con­sid­er­a­tion for both cus­tomer and re­tailer to trans­act on hand­bags. Brand­ing was not im­por­tant enough up till now where things have started chang­ing. Tax­a­tion only on branded prod­ucts ; un­branded prod­ucts could slip un­der the radar. GST has changed that to quite an ex­tent, though. Lack of good qual­ity re­tail spa­ces at com­pet­i­tive prices; sky­rock­et­ing rentals meant re­tail­ers have to con­cen­trate on more sta­ples like ap­parel and footwear to re­cover their costs. Im­pulse-driven cat­e­gories like hand­bags were pushed to small re­tail cor­ners where a lack of va­ri­ety meant more cus­tomers went to un­or­ga­nized play­ers for bet­ter va­ri­ety and prices.

What are the main driv­ers that will trans­form the seg­ment?

The key growth driv­ers are: in­creas­ing num­ber of work­ing women, their ris­ing in­comes, in­creas­ing fash­ion con­scious­ness and as­pi­ra­tion lev­els, and grow­ing in­flux of for­eign brands.

Most Ex­cit­ing thing in Wooba is that a great qual­ity prod­uct on lines of Da Mi­lano in more mod­ern and trendy sil­hou­ettes is be­ing of­fered at around half the price of Da Mi­lano. This was a huge chal­lenge for our sup­ply chain but we were able to man­age this in a tight time­lines. – Shivani Ma­lik

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