Best Foot For­ward

VMRD - - Contents - Satarupa Chakraborty

There’s a lot hap­pen­ing in the footwear mar­ket in In­dia to­day. More brands, more cat­e­gories and new store ex­pe­ri­ences for shoppers with a fetish for footwear. VM&RD looks closer at this grow­ing prod­uct cat­e­gory in re­tail, while speaking to some pop­u­lar brands in the mar­ket on how they plan to put their best foot for­ward to cap­ture the con­sumer.

In­dia’s to­tal footwear re­tail mar­ket amount­ing to be INR 33,592 crore is ex­pected to cross INR 54,000 crores by 2017, ac­cord­ing to the lat­est re­port by ICRA. It also sug­gests that In­dia is world’s sec­ond largest footwear pro­ducer af­ter China rep­re­sent­ing 9% of global an­nual pro­duc­tion, where In­dia pro­duces al­most 2.1 bil­lion units of footwear, 90% of which is con­sumed within the coun­try. The re­ports in­di­cates that In­dia has shown a growth of 20% CAGR in footwear ex­ports spe­cially to Euro­pean na­tions in the last 5 years. Some lead­ing footwear brands share their growth story, scope of this cat­e­gory and how they are pre­par­ing to in­crease their share in this bur­geon­ing prod­uct cat­e­gory in the In­dian re­tail land­scape.

Walk­ing the omni-chan­nel way

While omni-chan­nel is driv­ing the growth of re­tail and e-com­merce is a ro­bust sup­port­ing medium, footwear brands are now fo­cus­ing on more number of stores. Amer­i­can life­style sports­wear brand Skech­ers plans to open 400 stores in next 5 years, while Bata has re­vealed its plan to open 110 more, Wood­land to open 40 ev­ery year, Crocs to open 50 more stores by next year and Rosso Brunello to open 15 more EBOs in next 2 years. With giv­ing ma­jor fo­cus to build a strong EBO pres­ence, th­ese brands are also fo­cus­ing on their MBO and e-com­merce pres­ence. Rahul Vira, CEO, Skech­ers South Asia, said, “EBOs are our strong­est as­sets. Skech­ers has adopted a cau­tious ap­proach in the on­line space, as it does not sup­port the dis­counted model of sale. The brand is adopt­ing omni chan­nel ap­proach by in­te­grat­ing on­line and we will go live on our ex­clu­sive on­line store in In­dia in a cou­ple of months.”

Ra­jeev Gopalakr­ish­nan, Pres­i­dent, Asia South, Bata In­dia Lim­ited, said, “Our omni-chan­nel pres­ence makes it

easy for con­sumers to ei­ther buy on­line and col­lect it at the store, or place a re­quest for a prod­uct that they can re­serve for up to 48 hours for trial in-store. Al­though EBOs al­low us to rep­re­sent our brand story, this kind of seam­less omni-chan­nel ap­proach is much needed.”

With a plan to add 300 POSs in­clud­ing MBOs and EBOs, Crocs be­lieves that the fu­ture of e-com­merce lies in the brand’s brick-and­mor­tar net­work.

Step into ex­pe­ri­ences

Cre­at­ing the right brand story is cer­tainly fu­elling the re­tail ex­pan­sion strat­egy of th­ese brands. Footwear brands, like any other brands, are giv­ing a makeover to their ex­ist­ing re­tail de­sign while in­ter­na­tional brands are fast bring­ing their in­ter­na­tional con­cepts to In­dia. Talk­ing on the kind of story they are at­tempt­ing to bring, Ankita Shankar Ba­jaj, Mar­ket­ing Lead,

Vans In­dia ex­plained, “Along with right light­ing, high­lighted prod­uct stack­ing etc, we play videos re­lated to skate, mu­sic, our na­tional and global events to bring out the play­ful na­ture of the brand.”

With strong fo­cus on in-store VM and win­dow dis­plays lately, Bata has in­tro­duced new head­ers, shelves and POS el­e­ments. Ac­cord­ing to Gopalakr­ish­nan, the strat­egy adopted is to con­vey a uni­fied com­mu­ni­ca­tion style by cre­at­ing high­light ar­eas and fo­cal points. Cur­rently sky­rock­et­ing in the cat­e­gory with a 100% growth in busi­ness, Vira of Skech­ers In­dia men­tioned, “It is es­sen­tial to have a dis­play that not just looks good but of­fers in­for­ma­tion about the prod­uct. A store should be strong enough to sell it­self and new­ness in ex­pe­ri­ence is much needed.”

Al­though Crocs shrunk their av­er­age store size to 350 sq ft, is adding lot of vi­su­als per­tain­ing to their in­ter­na­tional cam­paigns and fo­cus­ing on mod­u­lar fixtures. Deepak Ch­habra, CEO and MD, Crocs In­dia told,

“To­day, hav­ing a space in a mall is of­ten not sus­tain­able. Hence, we use easy-to-move fixtures so that lo­gis­tics are easy if we have to shift.” Agree­ing to the need of mod­u­lar fixtures, Harki­rat Singh, MD, Wood­land Shoes Lim­ited added, “With th­ese fixtures, it is true that we have to re­vamp our store de­sign ev­ery 4-5 years, but the fringe ben­e­fit is that we can pro­vide new­ness of re­tail ex­pe­ri­ence.”

Footwear has even taken ma­jor promi­nence in MBOs too. Fu­ture Group’s Cen­tral re­cently un­veiled In­dia’s big­gest footwear sec­tion at its store in Pun­jgutta, Hy­der­abad. Speaking on the same, Pawan Na­gar­wal, Chief Ex­pe­ri­ence De­sign and Visual Mer­chan­dis­ing, Cen­tral Stores, said, “Look­ing at the in­flux of footwear brands, we ded­i­cated about 8000 sq ft space to the sec­tion. The store is the first MBO where in­ter­na­tional brands like Steve Mad­den, Aldo, Nine West have come to par­tic­i­pate. De­sign-wise, we ac­com­mo­dated sur­pris­ing props, spe­cial leg-forms and spe­cially-cre­ated mir­rors em­bed­ded with LED lights to up­lift the zone. Footwear re­tail to­day has gone far be­yond than just sit-and-try ar­range­ments. Hence, we cre­ated lux­ury seat­ing area for each and ev­ery brand re­tail­ing from the sec­tion.”

Awakening of new cat­e­gories

In­dia’s footwear mar­ket is broadly di­vided into three seg­ments – men’s, women’s and kids’. Ac­cord­ing to brands, at present, men’s mar­ket con­trib­utes around 60 per cent of sales in the footwear seg­ment as against women’s share of 30 per cent. How­ever the women’s seg­ment is grow­ing at a much faster CAGR of 20 per cent. In­ter­est­ingly, some footwear brands are bring­ing and strength­en­ing more cat­e­gories. Crocs, for ex­am­ple, plans to go be­yond its reg­u­lar ca­sual beach­wear range and plans to foray as a larger player of ca­sual footwear seg­ment and grab­bing 10% of the pie of al­most. Mean­while, Skech­ers wants to de­velop a new cat­e­gory of life­style sports which merges the style and per­for­mance.

Wood­land, cel­e­brated as men’s ad­ven­ture shoe brand, re­cently strength­ened their women cat­e­gory and launched a new lux­ury line of footwear, Woods. Harki­rat Singh, MD of Wood­land said, “Out of 40 new stores that we are go­ing to add ev­ery year, we plan to open 5 stores ex­clu­sively for Woods.” A trusted footwear brand across the na­tion, Bata, which also com­pleted 123 years, is fast break­ing its ar­chaic im­age by strength­en­ing their women’s range and they are now con­cen­trat­ing on man­u­fac­tur­ing mer­chan­dise that are meant for ‘young In­dia’. Sim­i­larly, Rosso Brunello, which is known for its evening shoes for men and women, is now dab­bling into ex­per­i­ment­ing in styles blended with com­fort such as sneak­ers and flats.

With more number of In­dian brands en­ter­ing the footwear cat­e­gory and in­ter­na­tional la­bels an­chor­ing on In­dia’s re­tail shore, we can def­i­nitely ex­pect a lot of ac­tion from this seg­ment. In­dia is al­ready the third largest footwear con­sum­ing coun­try in the world af­ter China and USA, but with very lit­tle per­cent­age sep­a­rat­ing the three, In­dia is ex­pected to come for­ward in terms of con­sump­tion as well.

Kishor Shah, Pro­pri­etor, Details

Hav­ing worked with na­tional and in­ter­na­tional footwear brands Dune, Steve Mad­den, Cole Haan, Bally, John­ston & Murphy, Heat­wave, Ree­bok and Nike Shah told, cat­e­gory space lo­ca­tion and se­quen­tial ex­pe­ri­ence is of ut­most im­por­tance. Vi­su­als hap­pen to play a piv­otal role in­clud­ing both static and video con­tent. Since footwear is a cat­e­gory that got pop­u­lar lately, it is nec­es­sary to pro­mote global brand am­bas­sadors and other as­pi­ra­tional sto­ries in­side the store.

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