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NEW DELHI : As part of its marketing strategy, Page Industries Ltd, the exclusive licensee of American brand Jockey, has increased its advertisement spending after a brief lull. Last week, it launched a new campaign for its men’s premium inner-wear collection. In an interview, Karthik Yathindra, chief marketing officer, Jockey India, said the company is back to spending 4-5% of its revenue on ads. The brand’s athleisure business gained traction during covid, he added. Edited excerpts:

 

What was the impact of the pandemic on your brands?

The impact was a lot more on swimwear brand Speedo than on Jockey for obvious reasons. Swimming pools were shut across the country both for professional and recreational swimming. As far as Jockey goes, we were among the fortunate organizations where demand was in place, in fact, a lot more robust than normal. However, the challenges were largely on the supply side owing to social distancing within the manufacturing setup. But fortunately for us, the demand was very healthy through the two years.

Which categories did well? 

What is termed as athleisure products, like trackpants, joggers, shorts, T-shirts and jackets, were launched, along with our portfolio of 1995. About 7-8 years ago, we took up athleisure as a key growth pillar and strengthened the portfolio quite a bit. It came in very handy when the pandemic hit, because there was largescale migration in terms of usage from casual and formal wear to athleisure. So, the timing worked out for us very well. Demand has also been healthy across innerwear for men and women, but athleisure really surged a lot more than what we had anticipated or planned for. I would say, we jumped a year or two in terms of demand with athleisure compared to pre-pandemic days. We literally doubled our business. Whereas, overall, as an organization, we clocked 37-38% jump in revenue in the last financial year.

Did you see a shift to online sales and have they sustained?

For an organization like ours, primarily invested in the offline space, online consumer acquisition was slow and expensive prior to the pandemic. Thanks to covid-19, online channels benefited us  a great deal. What was about 2-3% contributing to the entire business pre-pandemic, jumped to about 8%, and stayed. This means we’ve acquired a lot of consumers during covid, who continue to shop with us.

What are your plans for physical expansion?

We work through distributors and multi-brand outlets and we have a little over 100,000 touch points. We have about 1,200 exclusive brand stores now. We usually open 150-200 brand stores every year. That’s the plan for this year as well. We should close with 1,300-1,350 exclusive brand stores by the end of the year. 

How much does Jockey spend on advertising?

The annual budget for ads has always been 4-5% of our revenues and that continues to be there. It had moderated a bit during the pandemic, mainly because we were not sure how the business was going to go. 

In terms of the media mix, Jockey has been a significant spender across media. Over the last few years, we’ve gotten a little sharper when it comes to targeting the consumer. The challenge we are trying to address is to build awareness for specific product offerings and, in view of that, our investments towards social digital marketing have gone up.

Do you get your designs from the American company? Aren’t they more functional than trendy?

Page Industries has a licence for end-to-end, which is from product design, manufacturing, supply chain, distribution to marketing and retail.

But there is a lot of cross learning and sharing between Jockey International and Page in terms of designs and marketing. When it comes to fits and construction, it is best developed locally because we understand the Indian body type better. What is necessarily designed in the US or in Europe, may not fit the Indian body type, specifically for inner-wear as a category. 

But are you keeping up with the Indian fashion sense?

Absolutely. I do believe that when it comes to not just fits, comfort, quality and durability, but also design and fashion we are right up there, comparable with anybody in the Indian market. Of course, the ethos of the brand is such that we are not a fast-fashion brand. 

And hence, good quality and good fit on the body, kind of, supersedes aesthetics and visual appeal. Not to say that the visual appeal is boring or unfashionable, but there’s a clear priority towards how the product feels on you rather than how the product looks on you.

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