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ON A WILD AND INNOVATIVE JOURNEY

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Gaurav Dublish & Siddharth Sood, Co-founders, Wildcraft India, tell us how the company’s innovative mindset has helped it enter new categories, and why the latest product – respirators – is right for the company’s first full-fledged integrated marketing campaign 

At a time when most brands held back new campaigns, Wildcraft launched its first full-fledged integrated marketing campaign ‘Hain Taiyaar Hum’ for the company’s latest product, the Wildcraft Supermask, a respirator. This product also highlights how the head-to-toe outfitter has evolved in its 22-year journey, recognizing need-gaps and grabbing opportunities to expand its portfolio, as it has done in the current health crisis.

Commenting on the campaign Gaurav Dublish, Co-Founder, Wildcraft India says, “We believe that each one of us has it in us to use these trying times as an opportunity to take a fresh guard and resurrect ourselves with a renewed zeal for life. The ‘Hain Taiyaar Hum’ campaign is our clarion call to our nation to step out with confidence as we help them equip themselves to follow their passion and rekindle the explorer within. This is the time to demonstrate what the true purpose of Wildcraft is.”

The company approached Piyush Pandey, Chief Creative Officer, Ogilvy Worldwide and Executive Chairman, Ogilvy India, in the last week of April, apprising him of the importance of their mission post Covid-19. With Ogilvy and Pandey at the creative helm, Wildcraft also roped in Mindshare and Genesis BCW as agency partners. Explaining the key objectives of the campaign, Dublish says that as the word ‘mask’ had negative connotations, the company wanted to repurpose the narrative of the mask to something uniquely Wildcraft, leading to the product being coined as Wildcraft Supermask. The second objective was to position the respirator not as a protection device, but as an essential enabling device and inducing a mass behavioural shift by getting Indians to adopt the supermask as part of their everyday lifestyle.

To spread the message, Wildcraft is targeting the length and breadth of the country and collaborating with multiple partners, particularly on the distribution front. Adds Siddharth Sood, Co-Founder, Wildcraft India, “To ensure Supermask is easily accessible to every citizen, we have ramped up our distribution and are available across 1000+ cities, in 1,00,000+ retail points-of-sale across India. Additionally, we have also partnered with multiple platforms to augment access and awareness in these unprecedented times.” With the new product being widely distributed, the company could also leverage this distribution for its entire portfolio in the future. Sood says, “Wildcraft is available in over 200 exclusive stores and our reach extends to over 500 cities and towns. The distribution that we are opening for Wildcraft Supermask, we will be able to leverage it across our entire catalogue.”

Marketing Wildcraft Supermask

Wildcraft’s integrated marketing campaign mix banks heavily on Digital – wherein the company has integrations with 11 platforms, including Hotstar, Dailyhunt and TikTok. The mix also includes some element of Print, influencer marketing, audio-visual content on platforms like YouTube and Television. With the biggest objective being reach, the campaign is expected to be reaching out to a majority of the Indian Television viewing households in a 45-day period.

Interestingly, Wildcraft is betting big on activations and over the span of 45 days, the company is activating 10,000 kiosks across 20,000 pin-codes across India. “We are reaching out to the masses directly to communicate the story that we have put together and showcase our products which are relevant in the current environment. Most importantly, we are looking to educate and enlighten people on the proper way of wearing, caring and cleaning the Wildcraft Supermask,” says Dublish. The kiosks will be present at locations with high-footfalls such as supermarkets, pharmacies, SME shops and even liquor stores. The company is also targeting condominiums and housing societies to set up kiosks within the premises. The idea is to disrupt the way retail is seen and doing away with the last-mile by taking the product to the consumers’ doorstep.

Traditionally, the marketing budget of Wildcraft is pegged at around 5% – 6% of overall revenue. Dublish says that if the current campaign connects pan-India, “we can step it up further and after the first quarter, we will reassess it.” Currently, Wildcraft’s Digital play is across three platforms, direct portal, omni-channel and e-commerce and this garners about a fifth of the total business.

Retail: The Way Ahead

The retail industry has been significantly impacted by the current pandemic. To add to this, the new mandatory social distancing norms and lingering consumer trepidation to venture out of their homes, to crowded places like malls, could further dampen sentiments. However, on a positive note with the economy opening up, stand-alone stores are back in operation and Wildcraft is optimistic on the way ahead. Sood says, “We are seeing some amount of footfalls coming back. Obviously, it’s not at the pre COVID-19 levels but I believe there will be resurgence. We also expect the new campaign to drive traffic into our retail store. Though our new campaign is for a product, it connects Wildcraft with consumers and this will drive traffic into the retail store.” He continues, “We are bullish on retail and view this as an opportunity. There will be good deals available in retail and we are going to be pressing the pedal as we come out of COVID-19 on the retail expansion of Wildcraft.”

Expanding the Wildcraft portfolio

Since its inception in 1998, Wildcraft has steadily expanded its portfolio and currently it includes winter jackets and rain-cheaters, bermudas and convertibles, outdoor tees and shorts, all terrain shoes and sandals, versatile backpacks and duffels, tactical rucksacks and combat kits, trekking and camping accessories, and today hazmats and respirators too for pursuits like travelling, backpacking and trekking. In November last year, the company bagged a multi-million dollar order from the Ministry of Defence to make rucksacks for the Indian Army. This deal has helped the growth of the rucksack significantly.

Dublish says, “Our rucksack category has shown the highest growth. After multiple stages of designing, re-designing and user testing, we were able to convince the Indian Army on the design, quality and the production quality that Wildcraft will be able to deliver. We won a contract for 7-8 lakh pieces, ensuring that our rucksack is now present across the length and breadth of the country. This year, we are banking on rucksacks as one of the biggest components.” He continues, “The second biggest component is our clothing line which has done exceptionally well over the last three years. We have possibly the largest autumn and winter wear brand in the country and the largest rainwear/monsoon wear brand. This has propelled our clothing line to be a significant contributor to business.” Wildcraft is also looking at its footwear line and travel case line of suitcases to be one of the biggest drivers of business.

In the immediate future, Wildcraft is all set to launch face shields, goggles to protect the eyes and individual multi-utility kits designed so that the wearer has place to keep important personal belongings such as the respirator and even mobile phones. The company is also working on higher upgraded variants of the respirator. The founders believe that it is the R&D attitude and the innovative mindset that has helped the company disrupt the categories that it is present in and enter new categories. Dublish says that the innovation labs are constantly tested with problem statements and have come up with solutions, be it for tactical gear or even inexpensive hazmat suits, i.e., Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), and that Wildcraft has introduced a hazmat suit which costs Rs 2000 for 15 usages and is the cheapest COVID-barrier hazmat suit available globally. “Our team has an innovative mindset. We believe that if we get our focus right, the user needs right and the market segment right, it’s just a matter of time that we will launch product after product,” he adds.

On Track for Rs 1,000 cr revenue?

Wildcraft had set a target of Rs 1,000 crore in revenue for FY20. So how has the COVID-19 pandemic led the company to re-strategize its growth plans? Sood says, “COVID-19 has definitely impacted us from a normal business perspective, not the normal revenue. As we reconfigured our supply chain, manufacturing and launched new products since March 27, we’ve not had a net negative impact on the topline of the company. We are still growing but through different products. Also, the demand for normal products is now coming back, both online and offline; this revenue will now be accounted. Therefore, we are definitely on track to the target that we set of Rs 1,000 crore in FY20. Both of us believe in it.”

 

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Simran Sabherwal

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