In partnership with eTail Asia 2021, Retail in Asia had the pleasure to interview Rajesh Jain, Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer of Lacoste India.
SEE ALSO : India’s wearables market lifted 144% in 2020
RiA: What is Lacoste expansion’s status in the Indian market across channels
Rajesh: Lacoste follows a policy called “Selective Distribution Network” where each and every Point of Sale (POS) is chosen very carefully. Quality against the quantity is the principle, which is essential to keep the exclusive premium positioning of the brand. This policy is followed across all channels, whether online or offline, EBO or MBO, City Retail or Travel Retail, etc. Hence, every new POS is selected after careful study of the market, the catchment, adjacencies, etc. to provide a premium shopping environment to our discerning customers.
We currently have 51 POS in India across different formats covering all channels that are feasible for an international premium brand like Lacoste, in India. Our current strategy for offline stores is to have bigger and better doors in Key and larger cities. On the other side, we are very careful on our online presence. We partner with only those marketplaces that offer premium, non-discounted environment with adjacencies of like-minded brands. So far, we have joined hands with 4 marketplaces, who offer the desired atmosphere and apart from that we have our own e-commerce website www.lacoste.in where the customers get the same merchandise and similar brand experience as they get in a physical door.
RiA: How are you working to get new customers and retain existing ones?
Rajesh: Given the iconic status of the brand globally and top of mind recall due to the elegant products that offer “freedom of movement” we have a very high percentage of repeat customers.
That said, no fashion brand can grow only on repeat customers. Based on our target audience, we do execute digital & CRM campaigns from time to time for increasing new member enrolment to our Club Lacoste family.
Post this, we ensure to provide a consistent & a lifetime buying experience to our discerning customers every time they visit our offline or online stores. Some of the pointers that we practice on regular basis to give a superlative experience to our target audience are:
o Targeted investment in digital AnP to reach out to relevant customers
o Relationship building with existing customers through our Club Lacoste CRM Programme
o Ensuring the best Visual Merchandising standards
o Excellent Customer Service
Above all, what ensures to bring new customers and converting them into repeat customers is the most important part of the brand, that is, our products, which are true example of “relaxed elegance”, where we ensure freshness in our product range. We innovate for style & freedom of movement on frequent intervals. This ensures that our end customer gets an iconic wardrobe, contemporary & urban, inspired by sport & French elegance. In the current season, we have launched the “New Classic Polo” which is made from organic premium heavy pique cotton fabric. In addition, in this year, we have launched performance oriented shoes on a global level.
RiA: What’s your customer profile in India?
Rajesh: Lacoste caters to women, men, and kids, who live an active life-style and desire comfortable, yet qualitative, timeless products to accompany them in different moments of their daily lives.
‘Fashion Conscious’, Lacoste’s target segment appreciates the assurance of good taste the brand provides through its products. Lacoste products assist these individuals in expressing better, to the outer world, their life-style that encompasses elegance, refinement, comfort, quality and understated luxury.
The profile in terms of psychographics has not undergone a change since the brand remains true to its DNA, however more and more Indian consumers have started identifying themselves with Lacoste and its offerings. The brand has also successfully attracted the new age younger consumers through trendier products such as Lacoste L!VE, Lacoste Sport and collabs such as Roland Garros collection, Keith Haring collection, Holiday collections, Croco-series collection, Disney collection, Polaroid collection that are targeted at the younger consumer. The footwear range and Leather Goods – Bags, belts and wallets etc., have created a niche amongst trendy and quality loving customers, especially youth.
RiA: What digital channels are fundamental to succeed in the Indian market?
Rajesh: It is well settled now that the offline and online are two wonderful channels of distribution and both shall co-exist in a country like India for a very long period.
E-commerce is growing at a fast speed in India. There are two big players, Amazon and Flipkart for general categories and Myntra and TATA Cliq Luxury that focus on fashion categories. Ajio is another fashion e-commerce site that is coming up fast. Tech savvy Indian consumer are very quick to adapt to new technology. However, unfortunately, several e-commerce marketplaces in India are continuing to use discounting as the main driver to attract the customers. This may work as a short-term tactic but cannot be a good strategy for the e-commerce players to succeed in the longer run.
I personally believe that in order to succeed and to make a mark on the minds of the customers, a brand must not compromise on its core values and offer quality products in the right environment. One should always ensure that the positioning of the brand is not compromised on these online podiums.
I would also like to state that retail is slowly but surely moving forward from e-commerce and brick & mortar to “Multi Channel” and “Omni channel” space now. With fast adaptation of technology, digital world has been bringing some big changes to Indian market and the retailers need to move along these lines that are fundamental to succeed in Indian market.
RiA: In terms of collab, which is a big trend worldwide, do you think this is relevant to the Indian market?
Rajesh: Collab is the way of life for most brands across the globe and India is no exception. Collaboration can be in different areas on different aspects.
Product Collab: Collab or special editions play an important role in the strategy especially with lifestyle brands where the brand is not just fulfilling a tangible need but has a very strong emotional connect with its consumer. These associations help in building the brand’s different dimensions like fashion, sports, art, music and so forth.
For Lacoste, Special edition capsules are a showcase of the brand’s reinterpretation of its ever innovative and also classic range. It is a creative concept that is unique to the ready to wear styles that we offer every year. These collaborations led collector’s editions, have a marketing-oriented outlook as the idea is to relate with the artist/personality and creativity associated with the alliance. At Lacoste, each collab edition is an effort to bring very different aesthetic to the brand, one that has a different
inspiration behind them.
Editions like these, help communicating to the consumer the brand is contemporary and evolving. It gives an opportunity to the loyal customer to flaunt an exclusive piece from the brand that they closely associate with.
Business Collaboration: In today’s dynamic retail world, it has become even more significant to serve the customers wherever they are present & that too quickly in a cost-effective manner. In order to provide the customer with all possible amenities, “Collaboration” can be a powerful means for companies to gain an edge in the market.
Whether the objective is to deliver the products in 1-2 days or getting the products anywhere, anytime, it has become necessity for the brands to collaborate with the aggregators that are popular among audience and provide the healthy environment to market and sell the products.
Such collaboration can help a brand to enhance its visibility, experience and take engagement to the next level.
Second, through such collaborations, a brand can enjoy access to various services such as marketing, logistics, customer care etc. in a very effective manner.
Third, with the help of the strategic partnerships, a brand can easily get access to the updated technology.
In the recent times, we have collaborated with select e-commerce market place partners that cater to premium brands. These partnerships have not only yielded enhancement of online visibility for us but also helped to understand the competition and customer preferences.
Ri:A What type of localization strategies has the brand put in place to target the Indian market?
Rajesh: Lacoste is a global premium brand and our customers are very happy to get the same merchandise and experience in India that they get in other part of the world. So, whether you go to Paris / other part of Europe or USA or China or London or India, you as a customer can be assured of the similar range of products and same great experience that you have come to expect from a Lacoste point of sale. While we do have “Kurta-Payjama”, a traditional Indian dress available only in India, the rest of the range is the same global range that is available in other parts of the world. Similarly, the store interiors, VM, customer service are par excellence and match the international standards.
What we do offer is the warmth that an Indian customer expects. In addition, through our CRM campaigns, we do provide our Club Lacoste members with exclusive information on new season collection launch & offerings of the brand. We also run digital campaigns & influencer activation to increase the awareness of the key looks among our selected target audience
RiA: Where do you see the Indian market in 5 years also in terms of digital transformation?
Rajesh: Well, we have already seen a significant change in Indian fashion retail market where digital channels have taken a big leap in the past few years. Also, in the view of the current pandemic situation, Digital has remained the savior for most of the brands. In the coming years, my firm belief is that there is ample scope for digital keeping in view that more and more of Indian population is enjoying its perks at a single click. We should not neglect the online podium as it will certainly be a game changer in the coming times. I personally believe that digital channels, and not only e-commerce, will grow at an exponential rate in India and will do away with discounting to capitalize on ease and convenience of anytime, anywhere shopping. Even the small retailers would choose digital as an additional channel of distribution.
SEE ALSO : Lacoste partners with Bruno Mars
RiA: What will you be sharing at eTail Asia?
Rajesh: I will be sharing the learnings & insights that we have derived during and from the pandemic. My topic will be – “How the Pandemic Is Rewriting the Rules of Retail”.
RiA: What are you expecting in terms of takeaways and why is eTail a must not miss event?
Rajesh: I am really glad to be a part of this upcoming event that will be providing wonderful insights on e-commerce & digitization. One cannot really miss it as I believe this will act as vast knowledge pool of valuable insights and it can genuinely help in empowering Entrepreneurs, Professionals & Young leaders. I wish team of eTail, the very best for this event.
Register for eTail Asia here