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Blow Plast’s Alfa forays into soft luggage segment

16-September-2005
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Blow Plast’s Alfa forays into soft luggage segment

Blow Plast Ltd, the Rs 270 crore marketing arm of V.I.P. Industries Ltd, has announced its foray into a new market segment. It launched three ranges of soft luggage under the Alfa brand – a brand aimed at the value-for-money segment of the market.

Announcing Alfa’s foray into the highly competitive soft luggage segment, Sunil Kataria, Vice-President (Marketing), Blow Plast, said, “Alfa has come a long way today from its initial days. As a mature standalone brand from the V.I.P. stable, we felt that it had the potential to enter a segment, which is generally seen to be dominated by the unorganised sector. But we are confident of its success as we are offering products that can match the best in terms of quality while providing a guarantee, which is not, and cannot be, provided by the unorganised players.”

The three ranges of soft luggage are ‘Jet Strolley and Totes’, ‘Club Strolley and Totes’ and ‘Express Totes’. Said C S Srinivas, Brand Manager, Alfa, “These products fulfill a long-standing need of the value-for-money traveler who had to make do with either hard luggage or poor quality soft luggage. When we undertook an exhaustive survey of the market and also travelers on buses and trains, we found that such products would have a huge demand. Hence, this launch today. More products and ranges are on the anvil.”

Alfa’s soft luggage strategy revolves around a few cornerstones like superior design strength, sourcing efficiency, marketing support, quality control and product guarantee.

“These are key reasons due to which we feel that we will be able to compete with the unorganised sector strongly. A team of designers is based in India as well as China, and they design products based on current and emerging trends that our market intelligence provides us. The process captures inputs from our vast network of dealers, while Indian travel conditions are also taken into account. Creating our own designs is a strong differentiator from the unorganised players who pick up models off the shelf from Chinese factories, which are not ‘made-for-India’. We have a full-time sourcing office at Hong Kong to streamline our sourcing from China,” added Kataria.

About half-a-dozen vendors work with V.I.P. in China on a regular basis, and they are completely in sync with quality and process requirements. V.I.P. has also identified luggage that can be nested within each other, to reduce packing space, and freight cost. “An order book of three months also helps achieve economies of scale,” informed Kataria.

The vast existing distribution network of Alfa will support this foray, and it will also get a boost by in-shop promotions that will include posters, banners, stickers, and apart from TV commercials.

“No other brand operating at this end of the market is expected to get any marketing support. This will definitely give an edge to Alfa. We expect Alfa to be a Rs 100 crore brand in three years from now. Soft luggage should account for over 50 per cent of total sales for Alfa by then,” Kataria asserted.

The advertising campaign for the new launch is expected to hit the tube within two months. The company will be spending around 7-8 per cent of its first year’s turnover on advertising. Said Kataria, “We will release the ad campaign once complete the distribution process. The story line and everything else is in place and the ad has been created by our agency, Leo Burnett.”

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