Interview | Abhishek Ganguly Industry

Choice for consumers has increased: Puma India MD

Popularity of sportswear in daily fashion is driving India growth, says Puma India MD Abhishek Ganguly

Puma, the German sportswear, clothing and lifestyle accessories brand calls India ‘a strategic marketplace’ among its global businesses. The brand has finalised a massive expansion and brand building exercise in the country, says Puma India MD Abhishek Ganguly. Excerpts:

How do you assess Puma India’s growth so far?

We entered India in 2006. Today, we have established ourselves as the number one sportswear brand here. Our brand presence in the market is extremely compelling, achieving strong double-digit growth in the last 2-3 years. While we continued the growth trajectory in 2018 with a strong 21% growth, our direct-to-consumer e-commerce business has also grown the fastest in the same year.

What are your fast-moving products in India?

We have had huge success in the sneaker market here. Increasing popularity of sportswear in everyday fashion and for various occasions of use is driving our India growth strongly. There is huge upswing in sneaker culture and some of our most popular products like Thunder, RS-0 and RS-X have been extremely successful despite their high price points in a value-conscious country like India.

What kind of acceptance do you see for Puma products among women in India?

Women’s category has shown fantastic growth in the country. The paradigm shift in women’s lifestyle is evolving their buying behaviour. It’s interesting that the growth in the women’s category is outdoing the growth in men’s category. For instance, the increasing percentage of women’s runners in various running events in India is higher than the growth in men’s. Indian women are taking to various other fitness activities like callisthenics, pilates, Zumba, yoga etc. There is also growing demand for athleisure in everyday fashion and for various occasions is driving strong growth.

What kind of growing appetite for high quality sportswear, accessories, clothing and lifestyle products you see in India?

We are seeing a growing interest in fitness and overall orientation around healthy living has a positive impact on people’s lifestyle choices in India. Added to this, Indians are taking to sports both professionally and as recreation more than ever. This is fuelling our growth in products for sports performance. Additionally, there is increasing popularity of sportswear in everyday fashion and for various occasions of use; driving our growth strongly. Some of our most popular products are modern renditions of heritage sports products which are an instant hit with consumers.

You said changes that happened (in the Indian marketplace and also in customer behaviour) in the last five years have been more profound. Can you explain?

Retail has tremendously changed over the last five years. The marketplace has become very fast and dynamic. Distribution networks have evolved from traditional brick and mortar to an omnichannel approach where physical and digital activities are working in tandem. We have also seen a lot of new brands enter the market, which means competition and choice for consumers have increased. The way people are consuming brands and information is continuously changing with the advent of digital and social media. As a result, success for a business today requires much more than what it required 10 years back.

Why do you call India a strategic market?

India is a very important market for Puma globally. With the developments in sports and also the increasing popularity of sportswear in fashion, especially among the youth, we see huge potential for growth in future. Digitisation and evolution of social media has propelled the adoption of global trends around innovative designs and latest products. We will continue to focus strongly and invest heavily in India as the market is very strategic for our future. The great thing is that sports culture is growing very fast. Also, sportswear is becoming the go-to trend. Consumers style sportwear for different occasions like travel, office, streets, colleges, hangouts and evening wear, more than ever. Given these, Puma is in a great position as the leading brand. With a 26% market share we have a strong brand image and that sets us up for future opportunities.

What are the new things in the pipeline for India?

We currently have 360 exclusive stores and 3,100 PoS(points of sale) in India. We will add another 20 new stores of 1,500 to 1,800 sq.ft. in 2019. We recently opened a store in Guwahati and another in Nepal. Puma India oversees the brand’s operations in Nepal and Bangladesh as well.

We opened our first flagship store in Dhaka, Bangladesh, one of the biggest in south east Asia and currently have three stores in Nepal at key locations like Darbar Marg.

What message is Puma trying to drive home through “SockThem’’ campaign?

Puma is leading the cricketing frenzy with our latest campaign “SockThem” featuring Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli and Divine, the country’s biggest hip-hop star. Music and sport are the biggest unifiers of our society. Cricket, specifically, is the biggest cultural integrator India has ever seen. Celebrating Virat’s sportsmanship and the culture of cricket beyond the sport itself, we are launching a music video to help fans cheer the team’s performance in upcoming the international tournament. The campaign is widely-relatable in manner that is daring, optimistic and inspiring. Conceptualised around Virat’s celebratory gesture “My bat does the talking”, the catchy campaign reflects our passion in a very positive way while also perfectly capturing the crossover between music, art and culture and how cricket transcends everything at its core.

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Printable version | Feb 23, 2020 8:16:00 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/business/Industry/choice-for-consumers-has-increased/article28230042.ece

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