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Imitations of unbranded products are the biggest obstacles in this category: Sudip Ghose

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Imitations of unbranded products are the biggest obstacles in this category: Sudip Ghose

Skybags, from the house of VIP Industries recently unveiled their 2016 range of backpacks with the face of the brand, Varun Dhawan, who was roped in last year by the company. It sold 1 million backpacks in 2015 given its good designs, effective marketing, right brand ambassador and extensive distribution. The company in order to showcase their latest collection, which has over 100 designs, has launched a 360 degree marketing campaign.  The ad has been conceptualised by Law & Kenneth Saatchi & Saatchi which encapsulates the fun and trendy spirit of the brand.

Click here to view the ad:

In an interview with, Sudip Ghose, Vice President – Marketing, VIP Industries speaks about the latest Skybags campaign, its target audience, the tonality of its communication and the challenges in the market.


Tell us more about the scale of your new campaign?

This campaign is probably one of the biggest which VIP Industries has ever done. In terms of value, I won’t be able to disclose the figures. But if you have a television at home, there is no way you can miss it and in fact, if you don’t have a television at home, then also you can’t miss it. Primarily we are targeting the youth media, so we are using TV and are spending a lot of money on digital. As a marketer today, if your product targets the youth, there is no way you can ignore it. We also feel that the youth today is going back to watching movies in theatres and therefore, we are targeting it big time. Moreover, we are also going to advertise on kids’ channels and target women’s show. The primary reason being, we want to influence both the mothers and the kids at the same time.

What would be the duration of the latest campaign?

The duration of the campaign is between 6 to 8 weeks. Typically what happens for backpacks is, the season for North and East is early as compared to the season for South and West because the schools operate in that manner. Therefore, the communication has to pan from almost March till the end of May and that is the reason we need to have a two- month clear communication.

How would you define the target audience of Skybags?

We don’t demarcate any specific age group, but our core audience is basically anyone who uses casual backpacks. We have backpacks for students from class 6 to college, which basically starts from the age bracket of 12 years and the upper limit is not capped.

What is the tonality that you maintain for all your Skybags communication?

We have always felt that if the core of the brand is style, there is no harm talking about it. So whatever we do, whether it is for a backpacker or a luggage bag, we believe it has to be done in style.

How has Varun Dhawan as the face of Skybags campaign, added to the brand value?

He has brought the age of the brand down. His personality syncs seamlessly with our collections, which is not just high on style, but also high on features. We have been very fortunate to have signed him. He is young, happening, cool and with the kind of movies he does, his image fits the personality of the brand. He instantly connects with the youth.

What is the size of the total luggage industry? And what is the market share of VIP Industries?

The luggage industry is now over Rs 3,000 crore and the size of the backpack market could be another Rs 3,000 crore or more than that.

There is no syndicated data, like it is there in the durable industry or for instance in the telecom industry, but there are certain channels which have their secondary’s and if we take that sample size and extrapolate and see the overall turnover of our competition Vs us, we are anywhere between 55-60%

Tell us about the current challenges in this market?

Today there are a lot of unbranded and cheap products which are flooding the market. Unfortunately, when you buy a backpack you don’t realise that it gives away very fast. Today people don’t like to use one bag for many years. Even though it has not reached the women handbag level, but men also like to change their bags at least once a year. These are the things, which people don’t realise when they buy an unbranded stuff. If you ask me, what keeps me awake at night; it is imitation and cheap bags in the market.

How does your product fare in the tier ii and the tier iii markets?

The response is very good. It is an Indian brand which has done very well and it is affordable. If you can position the brand strategically, it will help consumers to buy it too. There is no specific region-wise market for us, but I would like to say, metros because the youth brand orientation is better there.

How do you deal with competition in this space?

The mantra is make good bags, do great advertising, get good brand ambassadors and have a good distribution. However, it is not as easy as it sounds, but then this is what makes it fun. We didn’t sell backpacks around three years back, but today we are selling 1 million of them. It is a huge success and repeating this would be difficult for any company.

Therefore, for us it is very important that we keep making good products to ensure that we stay ahead of our competition. However, if someone else comes and advertises, it is actually good for us, the awareness of the category goes up, - the more the merrier!

Which are the factors which have led to the growth of Skybags?

First and foremost thing is the positioning. Most of our bags do well because they are styled well. As we launch the 2016 collection, we are already working on 2017 collection. It is a one year full-fledged designer’s hard work. Last year we reached the 1 million mark for Skybags. Our sales have been doubling every year and we hope to get another 50-70 percent growth in this segment by the end of 2016.

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