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Chetan Shah

Country Head | 11 May 2005

“All Pepe advertising campaigns portray the brand identity, represented by the youth who speak of an attitude that says ‘I am what I am.’ The visuals are strong and captivating, creating a deep impact on the target audience.”

1973 saw the inception of Pepe Jeans London by three NRI brothers at Portobello, London. Inspired by the street-wear style, the brand became the best selling jeans in a very short span. Today, Pepe Jeans has a complete array of denim wear and casual wear, having its presence in more than 80 countries.

In India, Pepe is one of the most adored international fashion brands in the premium segment. It is a complete casual wear brand and sells everything one would associate with casual wear like casual cotton shirts, denim shirts, light-weight jeans, T-shirts, shirts, jackets, cotton casual pants and accessories such as duffel bags, caps, wrist bands, wallets, belts, etc. Pepe’s business in India can be broadly classified into 50 per cent denims and 50 per cent casual wear.

In a conversation with Anushree Madan Mohan of exchange4media, Chetan Shah, Country Head, Pepe Jeans, reveals the marketing strategy of the jeans’ business. Excerpts:

Q. How is Pepe performing in the Indian market? What is your market share?

Pepe Jeans is the market leader in the international premium jeans wear segment with the highest market share of 25 per cent.

Q. What are the new launches from Pepe in recent times?

For us, the recent launches have been Spring Summer 05, Holiday Collection for youth and Sporty Collection for Pepe Teens. All of them have seen a great success.

Q. What has been the marketing strategy of Pepe?

Pepe works on a 360-degree approach on the marketing communications strategy, involving both above-the-line and below-the-line activities. Billboards, print advertising in national and regional newspapers and all lifestyle magazines constitute Pepe’s above-the-line strategy. All these aim at creating the visibility, top of the mind recall with the end consumers. These above-the-line activities are strongly backed by POPs, innovative window displays, and larger-than-life visual images in the Pepe stores, reinforcing the communication received by the consumers through above-the-line initiatives.

Q. Why not television?

Firstly, there are too many channels on the scene and audiences are getting extremely fragmented. The distribution of the audience base is extremely haphazard. Plus, we are already getting through to our target audience, via billboards, print PoP and below-the-line. We don’t really need any additional vehicles.

Q. What kind of growth are you seeing year-on-year?

Pepe Jeans London has been growing approximately at 40 per cent since the last three years. We are expecting the same kind of growth for the next three years.

Q. How has your advertising and communication complemented the brand Pepe Jeans?

Pepe Jeans London has a global advertising campaign in all the countries, wherever it has presence. It believes in giving away a consistent brand message across the world wherein localisation of advertising campaigns distorts the brand identity. All Pepe advertising campaigns portray the brand identity, represented by the youth who speak of an attitude that says ‘I am what I am’. The visuals are strong and captivating, creating a deep impact on the target audience.

Pepe Jeans London has signed Portuguese footballer Cristiano Ronaldo who plays for Manchester United as the Pepe face for 2005. Ronaldo is paired with supermodel Jessica Miller. Ronaldo is dubbed as the next David Beckham. He is not only a sensational footballer, but also a youth icon. He is fashionable and handsome, and has a great physique. He carries a unique captivating style. Pepe Jeans saw an exciting opportunity in him. We all know that Jessica is setting the European ramp on fire. They perfectly gel well with Pepe’s characteristic young attitude.

The advertising campaign featuring Cristiano Ronaldo and Jessica Miller rolled out globally including India from April 2005. Challenging, provocative and visually stimulating visuals of Pepe’s ad campaign highlight skylines on billboards, and are also seen in print media across the country.

Q. What is the total size of the Indian jeans-wear market?

The total size of the denim market is estimated to be Rs 2,000 crore. The industry has shown a constant growth of 15 per cent since last three years. The premium jeans segment comprises 15-20 per cent of the total denim market.

Q. What kind of below-the-line activities are you involved in?

The in-store activities of Pepe include PoPs, joint promotions, customer interactions through contests, fashion shows, games, VJ visits, etc. All in-store activities are promoted through innovative POPs like danglers, tent-cards, banner-stands, wobblers, etc.

Pepe Jeans undertakes many joint marketing initiatives with relevant brands as they drive large value for the end consumer. Since both brands are targeting the same set of consumers, both get the benefit.

Our initiative with Times Teenage Card, Fosters for the Australian cricket team, Lycra and MTV for Style Awards are a few examples of successful joint initiatives. Pepe also sponsors concerts. The Pakistani rock group Junoon visited the Pepe Jeans Chennai store for an exciting promotional activity.

Q. What are your projections for the industry and for yourself in the next few years?

The industry is estimated to continue its growth at 15 per cent, whereas Pepe is likely to grow at 40 per cent.

Q. How has consumer research helped you?

Our each exclusive store files a daily report with the head office. This deals with complaints, comments, compliments, suggestions and requirements. We have a ‘Customer book’ for feedback. The merchandising and design team conducts regular visits. We keep a close watch on the market and the response of the customers.

Pepe has been able to mould and expand its portfolio by keeping a tab on the pulse of international fashion and thus, efficiently catering to sharp demand swings of its target audience. The brand has been quick to gauge that the young Indian consumer were getting bored with just a five pocket jeans and hence Pepe Jeans today is one-stop destination for the young premium segment customer with its exhaustive range of fashion wear, club wear evening wear along with the basic jeans.

Q. What is the role of PR in the entire marketing mix?

PR has a huge role to play in any marketing mix because it shapes popular perception for the brand. Advertising is regarded as something that the company wants to say for itself, while PR influences public opinion and shapes it in a credible and justifiable way.

Q. What’s your view on the Maharashtra Electricity Commission’s decision to cut power supply to all billboards in Mumbai between 6 pm and 10 pm?

I don’t see much sense in it. It would affect us in a big way since we communicate mainly through outdoor. But we would have to see, how it gets implemented.

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