From a bold black creative campaign to the significant khadi campaign recently, Raymond has been reiterating its universal brand appeal. Shantiswarup Panda, CMO, Raymond Lifestyle Business shares insights on recent campaigns, ‘The Complete Man’ brand proposition and millennial trends
Q] Your recent ‘All black collection’ campaign is a bold creative, highlighting the colour black. What was the insight behind the campaign? How did you go about the concept and the creative?
Actually, if you look at the Raymond brand, it has near universal brand recall. It also commands a huge level of consumer loyalty. Black is an essential part of a man’s wardrobe; be it suits, trousers, jackets, shoes, accessories - everything. So, the idea behind the campaign was to showcase an ‘all black’ look to consumers, while presenting a collection which is distinctive, detailed and highly stylized. The creative by Grey emphasizes the tagline, ‘It All Begins with Black’, around which the campaign was created. The thought behind the campaign was that black is the genesis, the beginning of everything, a canvas which can be possibly worked upon, something which is pure, unaffected, an unadulterated state of creation. There are two campaigns; one showcases our product range, taking inspiration from natural elements of wind, water, fire, etc and presenting four different collections in the same creative; and the second one is more about the soul of what black is. I think both really worked very well for us, generating decent demand.
Q] You also have a campaign running alongside for your Khadi collection. Can you tell us more about the product and the campaign creative? Raymond has a 90-year-old history and heritage, but khadi has been a very different and larger than life project for us. We entered into an MOU with The Khadi & Village Industries Commission (KVIC) last year and then got down to getting into clusters, working at the grass root level and talking to weavers. Our designers actually travelled a lot across the country. They gave a lot of design inputs to these karigars in different clusters, and then we procured the fabric from there. Khadi is essentially a handspun and hand-woven fabric without any machine power used. It is handmade and natural. Once we procure the material, we do the finishing in-house. The tactile feel of khadi is very different, because of the kind of finish and the styling done. It has got a modern makeover, and that’s why we call this whole campaign ‘The Story Re-spun’.
We are immensely proud about this whole initiative because the company is able to connect with artisans at the grass root level, thus guaranteeing them employment. We are sourcing from them and commercializing it, so that a business model is created. This is positively impacting the community, and it’s a humble beginning for us, although we see far reaching growth potential for our khadi line. So in essence, the campaign is all about taking pride in khadi and taking it to the next level of fashion.
Q] How has Raymond’s proposition of ‘The Complete Man’ evolved over the years? ‘The Complete Man’ is essentially a soul. It’s a thought process, and not the embodiment of a gender. It’s not a male gender per se. Over the years, ‘The Complete Man’ has possibly moved from being a very conformist, empathetic care-giver to a much more exploratory, free thinking and yet compassionate soul, who is possibly the complete man in the making. He is a much more contemporary person who dwells in today’s society, yet portraying a set of values which makes him aspirational. The task for us is to ensure that ‘The Complete Man’s story really resonates with the millennials while still being seen as aspirational for people around. Stay tuned for something soon in that space, in terms of ‘The Complete Man’ stories.
Q] Over the years how has your media mix changed? How are you looking at the digital medium for your current campaign? Digital is a big part of any campaign currently, and rightly so. However, having said that, I don’t think it is possible or correct to say that there is a certain formula in which we split money across various mediums. It completely depends on the kinds of campaigns we are running, the target group, the go-to market or distribution strategy that we have on the product, and depending on all this, the choice of the right media vehicle and the right source of experimentation and experience for consumers is chosen. Thus you might possibly see a huge swing towards Digital, Outdoor, and local store marketing in certain campaigns, whereas you could see a very conventional TV campaign around cricket, where we probably need to reach the 500th town in India. So it completely depends on the campaign and the product.
Q] The trend of Millennials is to move away from fabrics. They are increasingly going for ready-to-wear. How is Raymond tackling this particular challenge? We do continuous customer brand tracking, typically twice a year. And we have sound knowledge of both categories – fabric and readyto- wear. Our understanding is that about 25%-30% of the Indian urban male would actually go for a tailored garment, whereas 70%-75% would actually prefer a readymade garment. This is their predominant purchase, but they might opt for a different sub-category at another time. However, highly discerning style which is very personalized is only possible when your attire is stitched and made-to-measure. Thus, there is a lot of opportunity to grow in this part of the business as long as we are able to provide customers with the experience of a bespoke wardrobe which really works. We have a lot of customers coming back to us to stitch their outfits for their milestone occasions.
Q] Is e-commerce impacting your store sales in any way? No, not really. Honestly, I think there is more and enough for everybody to grow. It is just one more channel. We also have our own online presence across various e-commerce sites, fashion sites, as well as our own e-commerce portal. I see this more as an opportunity, possibly to reach out to people who don’t have direct access to our stores. Today, for instance, Raymond stores would be present in 350-400 towns, but beyond that as well, there is a huge part of India that has access to fashion, thanks to e-commerce today.
Q] What are your expansion plans? Is expanding to smaller towns part of the agenda? Yes, we have big go-to market expansion plans - both direct and indirect. As part of our direct expansion plan, we have a program called ‘TRS’s or ‘The Raymond Shop’ being opened in new towns where we don’t have a direct footprint today. This is one of the fastest rates of expansion that any retail brand could have. We are also doing indirect expansion in terms of covering markets through the wholesale route, tagging dealers through whom a lot of fabric and readymade wear goes to multi-brand outlets. Again, there is a concerted effort to build our capability, monitor the levels of inventory being sold, determine which SKUs are moving faster and thereby service that channel better. We believe fashion is a lot more about experience assortment and freshness of stock. All this will only happen when we invest in our go-to-market strategy, which we are pushing aggressively.