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Blackberrys has completed 20 years in the formal menswear segment and has a strong brand presence in Tier I cities. Yogesh Tiwari, VP, Sales & Marketing, Blackberrys, has undertaken a youthful marketing strategy to expand its consumer base to Tier II cities and strengthen its brand imagery.


Q] Blackberrys completes 20 years of its existence in India this year. How has been the experience so far?

Blackberrys has cemented its place as one of the most preferred fashion brands in the country with innovative creations and a steadfast philosophy of quality first. Born in 1991, the journey started with the founders recognizing the growing need for branded, structured clothing for the changing needs of the Indian male. Today, we boast of a 22,000 sq. ft plant specially designed for the manufacturing of suits and jackets that produces 500 suits and more than 3,000 trousers every day. With that, we are the largest manufacturer in north India. In the last 20 years, we have grown in every aspect and established ourselves as the leader in the men’s formal wear category. Overall, the experience has certainly been enriching and fulfilling and it is a pride to be associated with such a brand.


Q] Who is your target audience and how do you plan to reach out to them? What are the key insights behind your marketing activities?

Our target audience is the young Indian male in metro, Tier I and Tier II cities. We appeal to the fashion-forward Indian man and his motivation to stand out of the crowd. Therefore, the key to connect with him has not only been to keep pace, but to introduce him to the latest international fashion trends. This philosophy of innovation and bringing value to our consumer has been at the core of our DNA. All our marketing and expansion efforts have been in this direction. This attitude of being fashion forward reflects in our tagline Go Sharp.


Q] How has the growth of modern retail helped you build your brand?

Currently, we have 124 company-owned outlets. We are also present in more than 900 MBOs, and in all major outlets of Shoppers Stop, Lifestyle and Central. We are looking at aggressive expansion this year we have queued up launches of 40 exclusive stores. Tier II towns are our clear focus; modern retail has opened up more avenues and helped us take the brand to a wider consumer base. More counters with select partners ensure convenience and accessibility for the consumer, yet maintains a uniform brand experience.


Q] What are your plans to expand your consumer base? How do you plan to achieve it through your marketing initiatives?

As mentioned earlier, we are focusing on Tier II towns and expect the growth in numbers both in terms of consumer base and revenue generation coming from new territories. Majority of the new store launches scheduled this year are in these territories. The choice of media for communication has also been made, given our focus on this segment.


Q] Blackberrys deals exclusively with men’s formal wear. How potential is this segment?

The menswear market in India is the fastest growing apparel segment. According to Data monitor, it is expected to grow by 40.6 % to $13.8 billion in 2012. The India Menswear Market Analysis 2010-2014 by Venn Research found that the total revenue from menswear was $11.8 billion in 2009, representing a compound annual growth rate of 8.6% from 2005 to 2009. Therefore, the menswear segment is the largest segment in the domestic apparel market. According to Technopak, the size of the menswear market is about Rs 72,000 crore and it is growing at a CAGR of 9% per annum. And with this growth rate, it is estimated to reach a size of Rs 1, 76, 000 crore by 2020, opening up opportunities galore.


Q] Womenswear is consistently a strong performer in the Indian apparel segment as well. Why did you discontinue your venture into the womenswear segment?

The womenswear segment, while being a performer, is vastly different from menswear. Owing to the varied options available to women for work and formal wear, western and ethnic wear, all these find representation in equal measure in a woman’s wardrobe. Therefore, it is an extremely thin-sliced segment with a high number of organised and unorganised players. So, despite the promise of a performer segment, we decided to move out of it to focus and develop our core skills and capabilities.


Q] What are the marketing activities that you undertake to build your brand? What is your media mix?

Spring-Summer and Autumn-Winter form the two most important initiatives on our calendar. The launch of both these collections is amplified through a 360-degree campaign. We use mass media during these calendar months. Other mediums like digital build and sustain brand engagement with our audience.


Q] You recently collaborated with the McCann ad group. What is your strategy for creative innovations in the near future?

Blackberrys is amongst the top 3-4 brands in fashion and refined formal menswear, and has aggressive plans for a quantum jump. We have a new marketing plan and strategy in place for our branding. We see MWG TAG Ideation as strong partners with huge creative potential, which will help us further strengthen our new brand imagery.


Q] Which medium of communication has been the most effective for your brand?

Each medium serves an objective in the mix. As a mass fashion brand, we need reach as much as depth. Therefore, each serves its own efficacy.


Q] How important is the digital medium for brand engagement?

Today is the era of dialogue with social media becoming a platform for brands to truly connect with their consumers. It is an opportunity for us to bring alive our brand personality and be a part of our consumer’s world through this medium. We have been taking slow but steady steps in this direction.


Q] What opportunities and challenges do you foresee for the apparel segment after the increase of FDI in the retail sector?

When Coke acquired Thums Up, everybody thought it would die as a brand. The fact is that it still outsells Coke in India. With the arrival of McDonalds, Indian QSRs have flourished with Sarvana Bhavan planning a PE placement and newer categories like Cocoberry emerging. The point is, if you have a strong brand, you will survive. If you learn from competition, you can create new segments like Cocoberry, but if you resist change, then you will eventually perish like the Ambassador car! So let competition come in.



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