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Gap enters Mumbai with the dabbawalas!

The American casual brand partners with Mumbai’s iconic dabbawalas to say #helloMumbai. Gap’s CEO Oliver Kaye shares insights about the new campaign, plans ahead, response from the brand and more

Aanchal Kohli | Mumbai | February 26, 2016


Gap, the classic American casual wear brand, recently expanded its footprints in Mumbai in true Mumbaikar style. The brand worked with Mumbai’s iconic dabbawalas to deliver a dabba to say #helloMumbai to some of the city’s most influential names, and personalities.

Carrying branded dabbas, the dabbawalas made their way through the streets of the city to a wide section of influencers at their doorsteps. The dabbas had an invite to the Gap store launch along with the Gap logo tee for the recipient.

Kicking up a social storm, Gap’s Dabbawala activity has made Mumbaikars such as Ranveer Singh, Nishika Lulla, Anushka Manchanda, Shibani Dandekar, Karan Patel, Krystle D'Souza and Karanvir Bohra excited about the store opening. The activity has resulted in almost 1,000 posts on Instagram & Twitter alone which garnered over 7.2 million impressions, in just 4 days.

To know more, caught up with Oliver Kaye, CEO, Gap who shared insights about the campaign, the plans ahead and more.

The campaign

Sharing details about the initiative, he said, “It is a part of our #helloMumbai campaign. We wanted to mark the entry of Gap in Mumbai in a way that nods to the city’s most iconic motifs, so we looked at monuments, trains, the milkmen, and various other facets. Finally, we arrived at the dabbas because it’s so incredibly unique, and special to the city. It’s a tradition that you won’t find anywhere else in the world, let alone in the country.”

The dabbawallas of Mumbai are appreciated and acknowledged worldwide for their fashion of functioning and work pattern. It seemed most apt to deliver the message of GAP’s first store launch in Mumbai to people through the dabbawallas who’re one of the most recognised institutions of this iconic city.  “We painted the iconic dabbas blue with Gap colours and packed in our trademark Tshirts and tote bags, along with the invite for the launch. This dabba was sent across to influencers, bloggers and corporate offices of Mumbai where it created quite a stir because of its novelty,” Kaye added.

This is one of its kind initiatives, so when asked what is in the store next, he said, “We keep trying to be innovative and since we were entering the fashion capital of India – we tried to keep the buzz going before the store launch through this dabbawala activity. Our campaigns are typically planned in line with the global marketing initiatives, and as such reflect the global practices. However, for year 2 we do intend on running some fun, innovative marketing activities. For example, we launched Casting Call in India last year. A first of its kind initiative for kids which is very popular globally. We will re-launch it in year 2 to ensure participation from all our markets in India.

Also they will not be seen on television at the moment as they are very small in size. But Kaye mentioned that as they grow in business volume, and need a more broad based approach, they will surely consider other mediums.

The Year ahead

When asked how the year 2016 is slated for the brand, he said, “We have just launched two stores in Mumbai and already have 4 stores in Delhi and Bangalore, and 2 more stores coming up in Mall of India NOIDA, and Phoenix Marketcity, Bangalore. We plan on expanding a lot more with new stores to open later in the year.”

According to him, this campaign will help the brand in grabbing the eyeballs for its entry into this city with not one but two stores. “We reached out to 6.3 million people through our posts on Twitter and Instagram in the first few days alone. This dabbawalla activity has never been done before by any international apparel brand, and was able to kickstart conversations about the brand on a much larger scale,” he stated.

The strategies

As it is known that marketing plays a vital role so on asking Kaye that which of the strategies have worked well for them, he said, “The Dabbawala activity was a huge success for us. Similarly, casting call worked very well for us. Being a brand whose heritage is routed in denim, we’re working on some ideas to distinguish ourselves from the market, and that will see the light of day later this year.”

The Journey and Response

Gap is one of the old and known brands in the apparel segment. Founded in San Francisco in 1969, Gap’s collections are designed to build the foundation of modern wardrobes – all things denim, classic white shirts, khakis and must-have trends. Beginning with the first international store in London in 1987, Gap continues to connect with customers online and across the brand’s more than 1,700 company-operated and franchise retail locations around the world. Gapincludes Women's and Men's apparel and accessories, GapKids, babyGap, GapMaternity, GapBody and GapFit collections.

After a successful journey overseas, the brand entered India last year in May and within one year expanded its footprints with 7 stores in the country (out of which one is all set to open on February 27, 2016). The cities include Delhi/NCR, Bengaluru and Mumbai.

When asked about the journey so far, Kaye said, “The journey has been phenomenal. The Indian audience has appreciated the brand and its offerings. We have made great sales across all our stores and exactly why we already have 6 stores in India and two more stores opening up before end of this financial year.”

Not only the journey but the brand has garnered an encouraging response all this while. Adding further, he stated, “The response has been great. Our denims and tshirts are already a bestseller amongst the consumers. Our consumers are differentiated into three categories –brand loyalists, who come and shop with us because they love us, and have grown up wearing the brand, those who’ve travelled and shopped Gapin their adult years, and finally love the product, and shop. Third, is the set who’ve heard of the brand thanks to popular culture but never experienced it, and we find a great degree of resonance with the brand. We’ve had a brilliant response from all 3 segments. Our business is in line with our expectations. In particular we’ve seen a great deal of affinity for GapKids and babyGap, in line with what we envisioned.”

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