Nike, Reebok are not competition for Woodland: Harkirat Singh

Harkirat Singh shared Woodland’s journey from a small shoe factory in Canada to becoming a major outdoor adventure brand as well as its changing communication strategy over the years, at the exchange4media Conclave 2011 in Delhi on July 12. The Conclave is presented by Jagran Group.

e4m by Pallavi Srivastava
Updated: Jul 13, 2011 10:18 AM
Nike, Reebok are not competition for Woodland: Harkirat Singh

So you thought Woodland has got some tough competition from the MNCs like Nike or Reebok? Harkirat Singh, MD, Woodland India, doesn’t think so as he insists, “While Nike and Reebok’s focus is on sports, Woodland is an outdoor adventure brand. Being sports brands, Nike and Reebok advertise and affiliate themselves with sports like cricket and football. On the contrary, being an outdoor adventure brand, we have tied up with adventure sports professionals.”

Anita Nayyar, CEO, Havas India was the Chairperson for this Session.

Singh was speaking at the Delhi leg of the exchange4media Conclave 2011, held on July 12. The Conclave is presented by Jagran Group. The theme of the Conclave this year is ‘Reshaping Media Priorities for the New Marketing Era’.

Tracing Woodland’s journey, Singh said, “It all started from a small shoe factory in Quebec (in Canada), where we were making winter boots.” The brand later expanded to other parts of Canada, the US and the erstwhile USSR. In the 90s when the Russian market became unstable because of the political situation and Chinese products began inundating the Canadian market, Singh decided it was time to explore new and bigger markets. That’s when the company entered the Indian market. “I remember many people advised us against entering India because of the consumers’ price sensitivity, but we decided to explore this market,” he reminisced.

Adventure to lure the Youth
With adventure at the core of the brand’s DNA, youth automatically became the core TG for Brand Woodland from the very beginning. “When we entered the Indian market, we did a lot of adventure related activities to lure the youth consumers,” Singh said.

Continuing with this proposition, in present times too Woodland has been tying up with colleges and schools and has created adventure zones that have some adventure sports options. The idea behind such activities is to catch the attention of the core target audience, which is the youth, and establish a stronger connect with them. Singh also pointed out that digital was one of the key mediums for the brand. The brand has a strong and active presence on social media.

Apart from that, eRetailing is another focus area for Woodland when it comes to utilising the digital medium. The company started eRetailing three years back. “We got a very lukewarm response then, probably because shoes and clothes are products which Indians still want to get a feel of before buying. But slowly, people are moving towards shopping online as it saves them the bother of going to a crowded mall and spend that extra time on shopping. eRetailing will get bigger," said Singh.

Singh also emphasised the importance of Tier II and III towns for the brand. He further said that apparels had become a significant revenue source for Woodland and currently, apparels contribute 30 per cent to the total revenues of Woodland.

Meanwhile, tapping into the trend of consumers’ rising affinity for lifestyle and fashion brands, a premium fashion brand Woods has been launched, targeted at the metro consumers. Woods currently has just one store in the country in DLF Emporio Mall in Delhi. Singh said that they were maintaining exclusivity for the Woods brand and building snob value around it to attract the high end consumers. The current product range of shoes and accessories will soon be joined by apparels.

Singh also took the audience through the extensive ad campaigns undertaken for Woodland and Woods and how the advertising peg has changed for Woodland over the years – from ‘Leather that Weathers’ to being ‘Pro-Planet’ and the various initiatives taken to reduce its carbon footprint.

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