Clarks, the footwear brand from U.K, recently added its name in the Indian footwear market and is aiming to establish itself as a premium brand in the category. The footwear brand, in collaboration with Future Group, has launched its product line in the footwear segment through the joint venture, Clarks Future Footwear Ltd. CFFL.
But, this is not the first time the company has intended to tap the potentiality here. The brand had already has a taste of the Indian market way back in 2005 when it decided to be present in India through distributorship via Lifestyle Asia Pvt Ltd (LAPL). S Ramprasad, CEO, CFFL Ltd., explained to exchange4media, “Earlier, the brand came in India through the distributor network but now the company is here full-fledged. We just had 4-5 stores in 2005 and the presence was too small. Then company thought India as an important and strategic market and decided to enter Indian through a joint venture with Future Group.”
Pitching at premium
The category Clarks is looking at is nothing but premium. Ramprasad informed, “Our prime aim at a stage as nascent as this is to establish Clarks as a premium footwear brand in India offering supreme comfort and stylish collections.”
While the key focus of the brand in the initial year would be entirely on shopping experience. “The focus for Clarks will be to provide the same shopping experience to the Clarks consumer as anywhere in the world. The new store design in India will be the first for Clarks globally which reflects the brand’s commitment to consumers in India”, he said.
On the reason of choosing this year to launch specifically, he said, “Clarks has spent a lot of time and investment in researching the Indian market and we are now ready with the right product mix for the Indian consumers as they have evolved and are keen on getting the best quality and experience from international brands such as Clarks.”
Money and commercial marriage
The joint venture between both the parties - Future Group and Clarks Footwear Ltd. - will be valued equally. Ramprasad said, “The investment from both the parties will be similar (50-50) and the brand is governed by an independent Board comprising of people from both the sides.”
The firm is also aggressive in terms of setting aside monies for the promotional and marketing activities. “Clarks plans to invest about 15per cent of its planned turnover on marketing in the first year itself as the focus will be on brand building and superior shopping experience,” he added.
2005 saw Clarks picking print and outdoor tools for communicating its presence in the country but this time around, as per the first set of advertising and marketing activities, the brand has prime focus on ATL as well as BTL campaigns to begin with. “The marketing initiatives will be a blend of both ATL and BTL activities. A good amount of advertising budget will be spent on print media and outdoors to establish brand awareness. An equal amount will be spent on retail marketing activities such as the look of the store and windows with core focus on providing the best shopping experience to the consumer,” Ramprasad stated.
Divulging the expansion plans, he said, “Clarks Future Footwear Ltd plans to retail through 20 Standalone and 40 SIS by the end of year 2011.”
Trends and more
Speaking on the Indian footwear industry, Ramprasad shared that it is the right time for a new entrant like theirs to capitalize on the new fashion trends in India. “Footwear fashion has never been so important to women, men and even kids in India. The market is buzzing with classic and innovative designs, versatile shapes and sophisticated 'must-be-seen-in' styles inspired by nature, faraway lands and active lifestyles. Being experts in shoe-making, design and foot healthcare we have produced collections that not only make feet look fabulous, with on-trend styling straight from the global catwalks, but also feel fabulous thanks to our unbroken promise of comfort and quality,” he asserted.
One of the other official appointments was in the form of MPG who was handed over brand’s media mandate for this year. Makani Advertising was brand’s media agency in 2005 on the contrary; MPG has now been brought on board due to its global alignment. “Clarks has collaborated with MPG globally and the decision to hire MPG in India is an extension of the partnership with MPG Worldwide,” he clarified.
Presently, the advertising duties are being handled by the internal team. Clarks stores in India will also offer retail bags and shoe accessories. The footwear firm currently has a turnover of £1.4 bn globally and is present across the world in over 100 countries with Europe and US as its major markets.