Clarks, the footwear brand from the UK, is aiming to establish itself as a premium brand in the footwear market. The footwear brand, in collaboration with Future Group, has launched its product line through a joint venture, Clarks Future Footwear Ltd (CFFL).
The joint venture is valued equally, with both Future Group and Clarks Footwear holding a 50-50 share. The brand is governed by an independent Board comprising people from both companies.
However, this is not the first time the company is in India. The brand had already had a taste of the Indian market in 2005, when it forayed into the market via a distribution pact with Lifestyle Asia Pvt Ltd (LAPL). Commenting on the earlier foray, 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 the company thought that India was an important and strategic market and decided to enter through a joint venture with Future Group.”
In 2005, Clarks chose 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’s prime focus is ATL and 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 that Clarks Future Footwear planned to retail through 20 standalone and 40 SIS by the end of year 2011.
Given the company’s aggressive plans, Clarks plans to invest about 15 per cent of its planned turnover on marketing in the first year itself as the focus would be on brand building and creating a superior shopping experience.
To support its communication initiatives, Clarks has appointed MPG as its media agency in India for this year. Speaking on this development Ramprasad said, “Clarks has collaborated with MPG globally and the decision to hire MPG in India is an extension of the partnership with MPG Worldwide.” Makani Advertising was the brand’s media agency in 2005.
Currently, the advertising duties are being handled by an in-house team.
Pitching at premium
Clarks is looking at nothing less than premium. “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,” Ramprasad said.
He further said that the focus for Clarks would 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 added.
On the reason behind deciding to re-enter the Indian market in 2011 specifically, Ramprasad explained, “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.”
Trends and more
Commenting on the Indian footwear trends, he added that footwear fashion had never been so important to women, men and even kids in India. The market was 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.
Clarks stores in India will also retail bags and shoe accessories. The footwear company currently has a turnover of £1.4 billion globally and is present across the world in over 100 countries with Europe and the US as its major markets.