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As fitness consciousness rises in India, Reebok explores Tier II and Tier III cities

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As fitness consciousness rises in India, Reebok explores Tier II and Tier III cities

Silvia Tallon, Senior Marketing Director, Reebok India, is the first non-Indian to head Reebok's operations in the country. She joined the company in April 2016, after working for over two decades in the sports and fashion business. Since then, Reebok India is heavily focusing on women's fitness.

Five years ago, the brand was in crisis when Adidas discovered suspected financial irregularities by Reebok India's former management team, but Tallon believes that's in the past now. "I believe that ups and down are part of life and it is all about how you handle the downs and set yourself back on the path of growth and positivity," said Tallon in an earlier interview with exchange4media.

Over the past few years, Reebok India laid out plans to revitalize the brand in the country. The year 2013 gave Reebok a fresh look. The momentum was steadily built in 2014-15 and 2016-17 has been about sustenance and profitable growth. We spoke to Tallon on their plans for 2018. Excerpts: 

Reebok has started focussing on Tier II and Tier III cities, while Adidas is still seen as a premium sports brand. Is there a strategy behind this?

Reebok continues to encourage consumers to make fitness an integral part of their lives. India is scaling up its fitness quotient and we can see the changing consumer trends beyond metros, growing among the Tier II and Tier III cities as well. Over the last few years, we have witnessed a changing trend in these smaller markets, where more consumers are embracing fitness and showing affinity towards spending on workout gear. We want to change the way people, across all segments, perceive and experience fitness. With our continuous efforts we want to be part of the growth story of the health and fitness industry in India.

How has the transformation of India into a multi-sporting country helped sports brands?

India as a market is becoming increasingly receptive to newer and alternative forms of fitness, as well as sports. While some may have argued that India will always be a cricket-driven country, the past couple of years have seen the emergence and rising popularity of sports such as Football, Tennis and Badminton, as well as newer fitness forms like CrossFit, MMA, Aerial Yoga, Tabatha and several others. In such a dynamic environment, we aim to gain a first-mover advantage as we are the only brand that focuses on various fitness forms including Yoga, Combat in association with UFC, Training and Running in India and we are proud to see that these categories are growing year on year.

Could you tell us about your digital marketing budget?

As a brand we do not disclose our marketing spends but we follow a digital and mobile first strategy and the same is reflected in our content creation and media strategy.

What approach do you take for a product launch and to ensure that the brand's message is communicated well?

Reebok advocates its concept of 'Be more human' very strongly and aims to encourage the youth to adopt a fitter lifestyle, making the FitGen physically, mentally and socially fit. As a brand, Reebok has always believed in building a strong connect with its audience and all our efforts are directed towards encouraging one to push and define their limits. In terms of strategy, our aim is always to understand the buyer choices and preferences, which helps us develop our products with a targeted approach across Running, Training, Studio and Combat.

Additionally, we have also been gradually building our pool of fitness and lifestyle influencers who endorse Reebok and are active participants in our new product launches and other campaigns. We have consistently built platforms that have engaged fitness enthusiasts in a rigorous and holistic way.

FitToFight campaign has gained large traction from all quarters over the past two years. What new can we expect this year?

The first edition of FitToFight made people believe that one has the power to transform themselves not only physically but also mentally and socially. With 'GirlsDontFight' as the overarching theme for the FitToFight campaign in year two, we addressed two social issues, eve-teasing and inequality in pay.

FitToFight has been a milestone campaign for Reebok with women joining the movement in tremendous numbers and sharing their inspiring FitToFight stories. We are underway some exciting plans for this year and are all set to roll out the third edition of the campaign with an equally thought-provoking narrative, like before. Like in the previous years, our aim will be to engage our consumers through multiple touch points.

What else will be on the shelf from Reebok in 2018?

We are committed to become the leading fitness brand in the country. With marketing initiatives, brand activations (Reebok UFC Fight Night and International Day of Yoga) and product innovations being undertaken in this direction, Reebok is well positioned to drive growth in the country. Starting the year, we launched our Spring Summer 2018 collection that highlights innovative design and technology. We launched the Pump Supreme that gives an athleisure twist to our iconic Pump style, made with breathable-engineered mesh; this slip-on style is one of Reebok's most flexible, functional and flattering pieces of footwear.

This year will be led by the most amazing product innovations. Our focus will be on launching the Flexweave franchise and expanding the Floatride franchise. We are also scaling up our business and are heavily focusing on e-commerce. While we have our own channel for e-retail - Shop4Reebok, strategic tie-ups with leading e-commerce players such as Flipkart, which is our biggest partner followed by Jabong and Myntra, are further accelerating our growth. We are looking at interesting additional associations and partnerships that will help Reebok attain and sustain market leadership. The brand will have varied offerings across all categories in 2018.

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