A Blend of Style and Quality
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