Sajid Shamim, Brand Director of Reebok at The Adidas Group, aims to cash in on the health awareness wave in the country with products and marketing initiatives designed to change the concept of fitness from boring treadmill to fun sport
ABOUT THE BRAND
Reebok India has a pan- India presence and is the market leader in the sports footwear and apparel category, with 900 exclusive franchise stores. The company’s brand vision is ‘fulfilling potential’. Reebok has a 1,000-strong instructor alliance in India. Its innovative footwear technologies like Easytone, Zigtech and RealFlex have set a benchmark. Reebok supports its fun with fitness brand promise through global tieup with Cirque De Soleil for Jukari- Fit to Fly and Fit to Flex fitness programmes. It has also partnered with CrossFit - the revolutionary strength and conditioning programme - to change the way people around the world perceive, define and experience fitness. Reebok has an eight-year partnership with ICC and is the official outfit supplier for four IPL teams- Royal Challengers Bangalore, Chennai Superkings, Kolkata KnightRiders and Kings XI Punjab. Reebok is also the official outfit brand for Force India Formula one team.
Sajid Shamim is the Brand Director of Reebok and has been with the company for 10 years. Under his leadership, Reebok has been credited with many firsts and has successfully maintained the brand leadership in an increasingly competitive marketspace. Shamim believes that as a market leader, Reebok must take the initiative to grow the market. A believer in an autonomous corporate set-up and empowerment of his team, Shamim constantly motivates the team to see the bigger picture and the resulting vision has helped Reebok stay ahead of competition even in tough times. Shamim’s marketing initiatives like associating with the sportsman, not just the sport, led Reebok to support over 100 international and domestic cricketers and a strong association with three IPL teams. Shamim also focused on the ‘Juniors’ category, identifying a growth driver.
Q] Let’s talk about your latest launch, the Reebok CrossFit. How does it take your brand forward?
Reebok CrossFit is a global tie-up between CrossFit and Reebok. Since both the brands stand for the same things, we have come together. It basically extends our earlier positioning of fitness, and also reinforces it. Now we are taking to it to the next level. If you see Reebok as a brand worldwide, the whole aerobics movement was started by us globally. From 2005 to 2008, we had built up a huge instructor alliance base - individual instructors were being certified by Reebok, they in turn were opening gyms and aerobic centres. It’s a movement we have been nurturing for a long time. We are not saying that we changed the game, but we are impacting the fitness industry in a big way. Today, the picture of fitness is a person on a treadmill running in one corner of the gym; we are saying we will change it into a sport. When people see it as a sport, fans cheering, competing, the whole camaraderie, the whole fun element is infused into the brand.
Q] What were the key insights/thought processes that resulted in this campaign?
CrossFit is exactly what we stand for as a brand; it communicates what the brand is and what it is doing. It is our brandspeak. It’s not that by selling 10 CrossFit boxes we are going to make X amount of money; it is what is at our core. In the commercial space, our main business is still selling footwear and apparel. Our first CrossFit gym is already open at Megamall, Gurgaon. Going forward, we plan to open 10 more CrossFit boxes across the metros, so this is what the campaign is about. This is our core and the rest of the things are being built around this in the second half of the year. We are coming up with a CrossFit line of apparel, hi -tech garments and footwear. Coming to insights, we have done numerous surveys even globally through the years, but one statement made by a consumer has always stayed with me. A beautiful line: ‘A treadmill is a dreadmill’ - this line sparked off an entire thought process. We don’t have any treadmills in Reebok CrossFit gyms.
Q] What is your media mix for this initiative?
We are using typical ATL mediums, 60% to70% of the mix would be television, the rest would be print and outdoor. The social media mix is being used at two levels; the first level is the social community, banners, advertisements, games, and engagement modules. Apart from that, at the second level, every CrossFit gym we open will have a community of gym members who will start interacting and culminate in the Reebok National Games which we are planning to have in the later part of the year like the Asian Games, Olympic Games. Taking CrossFit games to that scale, that is our vision.
Q] What is the marketing mix used for Brand Reebok?
In terms of intensity, digital has come up in a big way, but still in terms of value spend, something like television would be the easiest way to reach out. The marketing mix is Television 50%-60%, OOH 10% –20%, Print 10%-20% and Digital 10% –20%.
Q] What is the targeted takeaway for consumers from Crossfit?
There is engagement, fun, real value addition, we are making the person fit for life, and inculcating the attitude that fitness is not a chore, but a sport and fun.
Q] Has there been significant growth in the fitness products segment in India? How does Reebok spread awareness within this segment?
There has been a major upsurge in the fitness goals in India. Because of societal changes, health awareness, fitness is becoming more and more mainstream. Earlier, the guy who was into fitness was called a fitness freak. He was a loner who did some akhda thing on the sideline. Today, the scene has changed. Gyms are mushrooming, what we have to do as a brand is to keep the freshness, we cannot let this momentum die. We cannot let fitness become another boring activity somewhere. That is how we want to impact the industry. At the moment, the trend is extremely positive. One indication is apparel and footwear sales, but that is normal as the usage of that kind of products could be anything. You also see it from the pure portable fitness-related sales like gym ball, kettle bells, dumbbells, something that you sell from a store that has seen a significant impact, and a significant jump. That is a pure index of the fitness industry growing. The fitness quotient of India is definitely going up and we are aiding it. I would peg it at approximately a 20- 25%, year on year, portable fitness growth. About spreading awareness, we talk about fitness through our campaigns, we are going to build this up through CrossFit , CrossFit Games , through events like the launch, which involved showing people the sports side of fitness. With two teams, we are spreading awareness by making sure consumers experience those gyms; we will also be doing mall activations on these lines.
Q] What is the marketshare of Reebok in this?
That would be tough for me to peg -- we are enablers of fitness, it is tough for me to gauge in terms of how many gyms we have in the country... as it is pretty much an unorganized sector. There are a lot of key players like Fitness First and Gold Gym, etc, but I wouldn’t have the data for that.
Q] What is your biggest challenge today?
How to make people experience CrossFit at least once… that’s it… if we are able to make people experience this once, our job is done. It is something that catches on fast. The 6-7 celebrities who tried CrossFit at our launch, my distinct feeling is that they will come back and ask where they can enroll for classes. Our only challenge is to reach out.
Q] How successful was your campaign ‘Butt Revolution’?
I still remember a guy from my team, Punit, coming up to me and saying that people would make a video of their butt movements and put it on Facebook. I thought they were out of their minds in a country like India… ‘You will not get more than 10 people putting up a video,’ I said…it was amazing to see 5,000 people uploading videos. Basically, we gave them a dance step of what you call the ‘Butt Dance’, and this is how you do it, it was amazing how many people actually did it. That for me is an index of the success of the campaign, and this was entirely in the digital space. We followed it up with ‘Tone your Avatar’ where we combined the real space with the virtual space, where we said come to your particular Facebook page, and do a series of exercises, and as you exercise, your avatar also becomes more fit… and if you do not exercise your avatar puts on weight, so this was again a great form of consumer engagement.
Q] IPL has been a huge part of your marketing mix and promotions, can you give us an idea in terms of your budget and plans for the IPL this year?
This campaign is bigger for us than the IPL, the TVC started from March 15, with Reebok CrossFit and then will go on to Flex, which is a particular shoe which helps in CrossFit. This activity is much bigger this time, and we have taken a conscious stand, we will do IPL, but it is not our core… this is our core and we will spend money on this.
Q] What is the one attribute that differentiates Reebok from its rivals in this highly competitive market? What’s your USP?
In terms of an authentic fitness brand, we are the only one in India, we are the only brand that actually runs a gym at a CrossFit box… and who keep reinventing this space, first it was through aerobics then the Reebok instructor alliance. Now it is CrossFit, so we are the only true brand that is doing this at a consistent level. I would not comment on others.