Eyeing youth, shoe brands put e-foot forward

By Shilpa Raina, IANS
Tuesday, February 8, 2011

NEW DELHI - What have footwear brands got to do with gaming and social networking sites? Here’s the answer: these are the platforms most visited by youth, prompting top shoe companies to put their ‘e-foot’ forward and target this section.

While Bata launched its online shopping portal last year, Woodland is the latest to join the bandwagon and is also developing new gaming applications.

According to Manoj Chandra, Bata’s vice president-marketing and customer service, the online portal was launched to deal with “out of stock” problem.

“The response for our online portal is very good. One can easily order for his/her shoe style in any size and the advantage is that it never goes out of stock, so this is the plus point,” Chandra told IANS.

That’s not surprising in a scenario where young people are enthusiastic about using technology to do new things and most are addicted to social networking sites.

According to a report last year, social networking site Facebook crossed the 12-million user base in India. Globally, the networking site claims to have 500 million active users every day.

Shoe-brand and apparel maker Woodland is using the increasing popularity of the social media to promote their brand online and are targeting people in the age group of 18-28 years.

“In 2009, we started making our presence in the social media via Twitter and Facebook and very soon we are going to be the first in India to start using Foursquare technology - it’s a virtual game in which participants earn badges for checking in at various locations. Those that check in most earn points and win exclusive discounts,” Amol Dhillon, Woodland’s vice president of strategy and planning, told IANS.

And for the online portal, they have plans to stock up limited edition products.

“We will be having a lot of limited edition products, the ones that we think are commercially not viable for mass production, on sale. So those will be exclusive for online buyers,” said Dhillon.

“What is happening in the West is that people are trying to reduce the carbon footprint by shopping from online stores, we want to initiate that,” he added.

Woodland has around 300 plus stores in the country whereas Bata has introduced 220 new stores since 2006 and sells through over 1,200 retail stores.

Chandra is now looking at opening large format stores all over India to pamper consumers by offering them an array of options.

“We are now targeting the ‘big store’ format. The idea is to offer everything under one roof because this helps in connecting well with the consumer as they don’t have to jump from one store to another to buy your product. You are making their life easy,” he said.

Calling social media platforms transparent, vibrant, active and dynamic, Dhillon says the response from consumers is helping the brand get “quicker” and “honest” reactions.

According to Dhillon, the online medium is where young consumers spend most of their time, hence a brand has to be socially-active to reap maximum benefits from it.

“The social media is cost effective and the reaction from the target group is instant and spontaneous. An average target consumer is online for at least one hour a day, hence we had a lot many online campaigns to attract their attention,” he said.

“We are not saying no to the traditional medium, but are trying to balance different modes of communication,” he added.

But if one assumes advertising on these social mediums is pocket friendly, then Dhillon corrects them saying: “It’s not that we don’t spend at all, we do. Like these days we are developing a gaming application on the lines of Farmville (an engaging gaming application) where a person would be finding route through a trail and locate a Woodland shoe. This way we are connecting brand and entertaining our consumers as well.”

(Shilpa Raina can be contacted at shilpa.r@ians.in)

Filed under: Fashion, Lifestyle

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