Despite being rocked by a scandal in 2012, Reebok has made a strong comeback, steadily rebuilding its brand equity. Over the last two years, it has sharpened its focus on fitness and women consumers, and is building on its brand salience. Having recently assigned its creative mandate to J. Walter Thompson, Silvia Tallon, Senior Marketing Director, Reebok India talks about the brand’s renewed marketing strategy and more
BY DIPALI BANKA
Q] Since April 2016, Reebok has shifted its focus to fitness and women consumers. Subsequently, its brand ambassadors, MS Dhoni and John Abraham were replaced by Kangana Ranaut. How has this strategy worked for the brand?
Fitness is core to Reebok and our aim is to continue to evolve in that space. In the last few years, we have witnessed a spike in the women fitness category, with an increasing number of women becoming fitness-oriented. Reebok wanted to inspire more women to adopt fitness as an integral part of their lifestyle and this was the reason behind the #FitToFight campaign with Kangana Ranaut as the face of the initiative. As our choice of brand ambassador, Kangana resonates with the Reebok ethos of being fearless, strong and powerful. She has defied challenges and triumphed over obstacles to achieve success today. Her role as a mentor and the inner voice of #FitToFight has encouraged many women to share their personal stories of trials and tribulations, creating an unprecedented movement among the women in India. We are always mapping the effectiveness of our campaigns with matrices such as NPS and QCS, and the women-first strategy has shown a strong positive impact on these matrices in the country.
Q] What is the key learning from the #FittoFight campaigns over the last couple of years?
In our first phase of #FitToFight, we had witnessed over 100 entries from women, inspiring each of us to continue fighting and winning. With the launch of #GirlsDontFight last year, Reebok extended #FitToFight to dealing with societal evils like eve-teasing and inequality in pay, demonstrating that women can strike back hard. This campaign has been an enriching experience, helping us connect with so many real women fighters who scale higher each day and succeed in their personal journey.
Q] Where does brand Reebok currently stand? How has it been able to bring trust and value to its brand?
Being a brand in the fitness arena, Reebok has developed a robust strategy that has helped bring about a change in the perception of fitness, enabling our target group to harness their latent fitness power. Each of our campaigns like #FitToFight, #GirlsDon’tFight, #BruisesCanBeGood, among others, represent the Reebok ethos that tough fitness has the power to transform lives, sharpen the mind, strengthen human bonds and liberate your human potential. Our game plan is to change the way people across all segments, perceive and experience fitness. With our continuous efforts we want to be a part of the growing story of the health and fitness industry in India.
Q] How is Reebok changing the way people think about the brand? How do you plan to bring in aspiration and premiumness for brand Reebok?
Innovation in fitness is the focus of Reebok in India. Our aim through each of our new launches or campaigns is in line with our brand philosophy of ‘Fitness is Life’. Since our positioning is in the fitness space, we continue to build the brand and the business, catering to the varied preferences of the fitness-savvy consumer.
With the growing trend of athleisure becoming a staple in casual and formal wear, we see consumers becoming uninhibited in their fashion choices. With the Reebok Classic range, we have a high-end collection that celebrates the urban and hipster customer, with variety and visual appeal being the key.
Q] What is your key observation about the Indian market in the fitness category?
People in India are becoming increasingly healthconscious and are turning to outdoor adventures and other fitness activities as their means to healthy living. Not restricted to professional sportspeople alone, fitness in India today is perceived as a ‘lifestyle’ by people across age groups, and they seek suitable clothing and footwear for the same. In fact, last year we conducted a Reebok Fit India survey where we mapped the fitness journey of consumers across eight cities in India. This gave us an insight into the ‘FitGen’ behavior and trends such as running emerged as the most popular fitness form followed by yoga, CrossFit and mixed martial arts (MMA), among others. Pune topped the chart with the highest fitness index, followed by Delhi, Mumbai and other cities. The outcome of the survey resonated very strongly with our audience and encouraged each one to push their limits through the power of fitness.
Q] How different is your brand and marketing approach in India as compared to other markets? What is unique about the Indian market?
The fitness core in India has spurred many of our properties such as the MMA Fight Night, International Yoga Day, Super Sunday Runs and the #FitToFight campaign, which champion powerful and unfazed women who break walls and stand strong and tall. MMA and CrossFit are no longer limited to just the metro cities; today, we see more and more fitness enthusiasts exploring all kinds of fitness forms in smaller cities as well. Success in India is driven by factors like innovative and quality products, understanding of local consumers and the ability to cater to market demand and large distribution networks, among others, and that is exactly where we are directing all our efforts.
Q] What is the biggest challenge for brand Reebok right now? Also, on a personal level, what is your key challenge in the Indian market right now?
India with a population of over a billion, is a diverse country. We are witnessing dynamic changes in the consumer category. While metros and large cities continue to garner strong demand, Tier II and III cities are not far behind. With the growing popularity of e-commerce, the entire country has access to the best the brand has to offer. Consumers are hungry for variety and quality, and as a brand, our aim is to identify and build a strong foothold in the fitness space and drive the momentum.
Q] What does your branding and marketing approach for the Digital media for the brand look like?
Digital is no longer a support marketing function for us, it is in fact at the core of our marketing strategy. We understand that our consumers are young, tech and social media-savvy millennials and we love to reach them where they are. Reebok received awards for innovation in Digital for the Reebok ZPump fusion campaign, and our recent Flexweave shoe launch has also received great response on Digital media.
Q] What are the salient features of brand Reebok that differentiates it from adidas? How are you sharpening the positioning of each brand?
Though part of the same parent company, Reebok and adidas have some key differences. Reebok is rooted in fitness. Our positioning is tough fitness and we take on some of the most popular new age forms of fitness like MMA, CrossFit and Obstacle Racing. Globally, we are associated with Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), CrossFit Games, and Spartan race.
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