A group of fashionable young men and women having a great time at a pool parlour, and later in the garden where one of them is busy washing his motorbike, a girl applying a face-pack in the kitchen, followed by a man who uses the same pack as a sandwich spread! These are images from the retail chain Lifestyle's first ever TVC, which culminates with the company's new retail identity and tagline `Hi on life.'
The new logo has a contemporary typeface with a bubble in pink and orange, which apparently symbolises fashion and youth.
Kumar Sitaraman, Managing Director, Lifestyle International, says the new identity helps to reinvent the brand. "We are not what we were when we set shop in India five years back. In 1999, we were trying to target the mid-market, understand the response of the customer and react to it. But today, we find that we are accepted at a slightly higher level and, therefore, felt that it was time we positioned ourselves as a premium lifestyle store, which is youthful and vibrant, and delivers the best of international fashion, vibrancy and colours, and is the foremost retail player in the country in terms of product offering and store experience." He feels that the customers would be able to relate to the new identity far better.
U. Jairaj Rau, Vice-President and Client Service Director, JWT (the agency which is responsible for the brand's new identity and ad campaign), says that it was about time the brand invested in a change in identity. "Throughout the five-year story of Lifestyle, we have always tried to connect the brand with fashion. In all our campaigns, we showed models at the cutting edge of fashion. But towards the end of 2003, we got a little worried as a number of rival retail brands began to clone our advertising. It looked as if only the models differentiated the campaign."
The industry too feels that a change in identity does help a retail brand to a considerable extent. Says Arvind Singhal, Chairman, KSA-Technopak, "In a rapidly evolving market such as India, most retail brands which have started many years ago (such as Lifestyle, Shoppers' Stop) would certainly benefit from making infrequent but planned changes in their overall identity (signage, interiors, visual merchandising and even category/product mix) to keep their overall business proposition and product/service offer contemporary for the consumers across various cities in India."
The ad campaign
Talking about the campaign, Rau of JWT says that though the print campaign continues to focus on fashion, the TVC focuses on the people which the brand seeks to target. "Instead of merely projecting models, we have tried to create an individualistic character for each model. Research showed us that the youth today crave for exclusivity, want to be identified independent individuals, but at the same time they want to be part of a group. The commercial has also shown these youth using the things available in the store, such as a sofa set, linens, kitchen accessories and so on."
The TVC, according to Sitaraman, would be accompanied by a series of below-the-line activities. He says that the company's ad budget for the year would be around 2 per cent of its turnover.
Lifestyle is eyeing a turnover of Rs 725 crore by 2006-07 (the current turnover is Rs 250 crore), with as many as 21 stores. Sitaraman says that apart from the metros, the company is also looking at smaller cities such as Kochi, Chandigarh, Pune and Ahmedabad. "The investment for each of these new stores would be around Rs 10 crore," says Sitaraman.
Apart from this, he says, the company is also looking at hypermarkets in a big way. "We are still researching, but hypermarkets are definitely there on our agenda."
He says the company is also looking at setting up concept stores as its parent company, Landmark Group, has in Dubai. The concept stores include Splash (apparel), Baby Store, Shoe Mart, Home Centre and Lifestyle (perfumes and cosmetics). "India is not yet ready to take individual concepts, but the moment we feel it is ready, we will definitely get into it."
Retail scene in India
According to a report by Chesterton Meghraj, 282 malls have been planned in the country, out of which 135 are confirmed and would come up over a space of 25 million sq. ft.
Sitaraman says what India has seen in five years in terms of malls, the West saw it in 15 years. "But what is crucial is the right tenant mix. Only those malls which have the right tenant mix of retailers, food courts and multiplex player would succeed."
He says that the mall developers also need to come up with innovative concepts and also charge realistic rentals.
Sitaraman says that the future would see a mushrooming growth of hypermarkets across the country. "Also, local players like a Pothys or Nalli would begin to consider being part of the large mall with consumers increasingly looking for ambience and comfort."
A section of analysts feel that that Lifestyle has done a great job by focusing on its international sourcing and is the only international retail brand in India. However, Singhal of KSA-Technopak says, "Categories such as womenswear (both western as well as Indian), lingerie, smart casual wear for men, denim and partywear for teenagers/young adults, footwear, gifting items and infant accessories are still under-represented (relative to the potential) in most Indian department stores. A stronger focus on some or all of these categories could help department stores like Lifestyle." For, it is the product offering which matters ultimately.