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We want to grow through multi-brand outlets and e-commerce platforms: Gaurav Dua, Relaxo

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Dua, Executive Director – Marketing & Sales, Relaxo Footwear, talks about the brand’s shift to digital, rebranding, marketing strategy, anticipated growth, the outlook for retail, and more

Sparx, the sports footwear brand from the house of Relaxo has recently rebranded its market positioning from ‘Add Sparx to your life’ to ‘It’s In Me’. The brand has launched a campaign with brand ambassador Akshay Kumar to communicate this repositioning to the millennial and Gen-Z audience it is targeting. The campaign has been conceptualized and created by DDB Mudra.

According to Gaurav Dua, Executive Director – Marketing & Sales, Relaxo Footwear, it is a shout-out for youngsters of today and urges them to push boundaries and overcome the doubts to seek their inner potential. Says Dua “This is our new anthem ‘Mujhmein hai naa” to connect with the spirit of the youth of today. For example, in Olympics, the Indian youth are coming out and they have taken on the challenges saying that we can do it. We’re not dependent on the outside world, there’s something inside us, and we can do it and this is something that the youth connects with. According to our studies also, this is more relevant now for our TG and that’s why we came up with this rebranding. We are confident that this thought will help brand Sparx build a deeper relationship with our consumers.”

On the digital front, the brand is leveraging influencer marketing to promote the new campaign through unboxing videos, behind-the-scenes videos, a Shoe Shake challenge that motivates people to observe Social Distancing norms. Sharing its scale and importance, Dua adds “Influencer marketing is very new in India, it’s only been two-three years. With people spending more time at home and the Jio revolution there has been an exponential increase in influencer engagement. They definitely do really well with the brand. In terms of the involvement of the youth, they are the best brand ambassadors because they believe in the brand issues, engage themselves, show the attributes – whether it’s worth it or does not work. In the future, we are definitely going to increase influencer branding.”

Further emphasising the adaptation to a digital ecosystem, Dua adds “The pandemic is about eighteen months old now, as soon as this began, we started focusing on digital-only because everything was closed – EBOs were closed, MBOs were closed. We made a lot of push towards Amazon, Flipkart and our own website. We had to correct our own assets because it was old and it took us two to three months, but now it is running perfectly and we have all our products available on our own website. It’s been a journey but now we are digitally ready. Even when the stores started opening up, we were communicating directly to the consumers and we took the initiative that instead of the customer coming to the shop, the shopping goes to the customer.” It is interesting to note that almost 80 per cent of the sales at Sparx comes from multi-brand outlets while digital contributes to about 20 per cent as compared to a pre-pandemic 10-12 per cent.

The brand spends approximately four to five per cent of its turnover on its marketing budget. In terms of the media mix, television still dominates for Relaxo brands. Dua explains, “Television has the largest reach and so we are continuing. We have definitely increased our spends on digital by 15-20 per cent, as it has been growing phenomenally in the last two years. Television is the largest chunk followed by digital, which in turn is followed by OOH and print.”

Growth Ahead & Plans For Retail

The first six months of the pandemic have been challenging for the brand with lockdowns, restricted e-commerce and people being confined to homes. But in the last few months, the brand has recovered thoroughly and has reached the pre-pandemic sales levels. Says Dua, “Our sales had gone down drastically by about 30 per cent, but in the last three months we have been able to achieve prior numbers. Now with the festive season going on, we are confident to have a growth journey from here onwards. In the festive e-commerce sale recently, we have seen great response and sales and so we are really hopeful.”

Relaxo currently operates with 400 exclusive outlets across the nation. Before the pandemic hit, the brand was looking forward to adding 30 exclusive stores on a year-on-year basis. However, owing to the impact of Covid-19, those plans had to be stalled. Dua shares, “ For the last 18 months we have not added on any new store because of the challenges on the retail front. For the next six months, we are not planning to add on either as we don’t have high plans for increasing the EBO route. We want to grow through multi-brand outlets and e-commerce platforms. E-commerce is doing really well for us, on Flipkart & Amazon, we are number two in terms of the volume of products sold in the sports category. We have also revamped our website, and we are trying to promote our own website so that people can just sit at home and order from our site as we have a huge range, colours and sizes available.”

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Ritika Raj

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