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How Fabindia is riding on immersive customer experience

In a chat with BestMediaInfo.com, Karan Kumar, Chief Brand & Marketing Officer, Fabindia, spells out the growth trajectory of the brand. He explains how influencer marketing is key to Fabindia’s sales pitch and how it is trying to be more relevant to the new-age customer

One retail brand that has been able to make a distinguished mark for itself is Fabindia—arguably India's largest private platform for products made from traditional techniques, skills and hand-based processes.

Fabindia was founded with the strong belief that there was a need for a vehicle for marketing the vast and diverse craft traditions of India and help fulfil the need to provide and sustain employment. The brand blends indigenous craft techniques with contemporary designs to bring aesthetic and affordable products to today’s consumers.

Fabindia endeavours to bring alive products and encourage lifestyles that celebrate our rich Indian culture, craft traditions and wisdom. At Fabindia, they work with more than 50,000 crafts persons, helping them create products with intrinsic value – products that are relevant and find meaning in our contemporary lifestyles while being anchored in our rich culture and craft traditions from our glorious past.

The brand sees itself as that essential bridge between our rich cultural past and modernity at one level, and at another, a brand that connects that rural artisan and craftsperson with the discerning urban consumer.

In other words, the rich cultural diversity of India is what inspires the brand and what excites them is their ability to take forward this rich cultural past into forward periods of modernity, evolving lifestyles and meaningful progress. Authenticity and inclusive partnerships stay are the core of everything that they do at Fabindia.

Fabindia is uniquely placed as India’s largest retail platform that doesn’t compete directly with any single player across its portfolio of products produced by artisans primarily from rural areas. The brand has more than 300 stores across 106 cities in India and 14 stores worldwide.

Karan Kumar

BestMediaInfo.com caught up with Karan Kumar, Chief Brand and Marketing Officer, Fabindia, to understand the nuances of the brand, its advertising and marketing strategies and much more.

A lot of brands are utilising brand ambassadors to promote their products, then why hasn’t Fabindia taken that route yet? Replying to this, Kumar said, “Every brand charts its own journey anchored in its own strategy, so it is unfair to comment on other brands and the approaches that they have adopted. At Fabindia, we believe that we share a very unique and special relationship with our loyalists for more than 60 years and it is that relationship that we seek to strengthen every day. The genesis of this relationship lies in the brand being honest and authentic every day as reflected in our total approach and which extends to the entire range of alternative lifestyle products that we offer.”

He added, “It is the essence of our products, their intrinsic value and the craft persons who create them with a lot of passion, toil and a little bit of magic who are our best ambassadors and advocates for who we are and what we stand for.”

Advertising and marketing strategy

Audience engagement, product experience and immersive retail are the three key pillars of Fabindia’s marketing and communication strategy. Elaborating on the brand’s advertising and marketing efforts, Kumar pointed out, “Across each of these, our attempt has always been to share ‘the Fabindia story’ with the largest number of people in a compelling, evocative but most importantly, in the most honest manner across media ecosystems and platforms. Therefore, it would be fair to say that irrespective of the medium or the media ecosystem, our marketing approach lies heavily on story-telling.”

This takes shape in the form of various campaigns around the brand’s products and their craft origins (#CraftTrails), their seasonal new introductions (#EverydayCasuals, #ShadesOfSummer etc) or campaigns that celebrate families and some beautiful relationships within them.

“These campaigns strike a healthy balance of conventional reach-focused advertising, intelligent demographic and geo targeting through digital media, driving conversations and engagement through social media, recognition and appreciation via our rewards programme and last, but not the least, engineering direct brand and product interactions through workshops and curated events at our retail stores,” said Kumar.

“This considered media mix has helped us continuously, to both, engage with current customers, as well as reach out to newer ones. A truly multimedia marketing approach is what makes us successful at both the top and bottom of the funnel and this balanced approach will continue to guide us in our forward pursuits as well,” he added.

Budget allocation

Talking about budget allocation across various mediums, Kumar said, “Budgets are allocated for each of the objectives we aim to drive during the course of a season or financial year. Hard metrics for each objective are set and adequate budget are earmarked for programme and campaign executions.”

These objectives themselves are fairly comprehensive – from driving reach, engagement and conversations around the brand, to encouraging trials and adoption of specific business categories. And then some more which revolve around marketing the retail assets that the brand has – its stores. Driving traffic, conversions and improved yield per square feet – all of these are objectives backed with adequate budgets and resources.

Foreseeable trends and challenges for the retail segment

“Immersive customer experience is what will drive retail going forward. The experience needs to be over and beyond the product, where customers are given many more reasons to visit retail. Services will play an important part as will product-led engagements and demonstrations,” said Kumar.

He emphasised, “And then there is this entire expansion into tier II and III towns where customers are eager to experience higher standards in retail experience than what they have been traditionally offered. Retail is here to stay and grow. What will need to evolve are its formats and the total experience that it can offer. As I said earlier, the experience needs to be over and beyond the product.”

Tie-ups and partnerships

In a first for Fabindia, the brand had tied up with Star Sports for the last season of the Vivo IPL 2019 as the official styling partner. Through this association, the brand aimed to promote its western wear range and create awareness about the everyday men’s casual wear range. “These objectives were more than successfully met, leading to higher scores on awareness, consideration and even revenue conversions for the business,” specified Kumar.

“We are and will continue to evaluate opportunities where our product range and its versatility can be showcased and these opportunities may not be limited only to cricket and sports,” he added.

Omnichannel experience and influencer marketing

Fabindia’s website has all the products that the brand sells across its stores and more. If a customer walks into a store and is unable to find a product, their associates can pick up a tab and look at the entire range, select and place an order for the customer right there. Soon the customers will also be able to utilise digital and in-store technologies and tools like buy online, pick up in-store or order from the store and get it delivered at their doorstep.

“This way we will connect with the customer online and offline to deliver a seamless experience. This is a clear area of focus for us and are confident that we will see this channel contributing significantly to our overall business plans,” Kumar explained.

Omni-channel notwithstanding, influencer marketing has been and continues to remain a very important cog in the overall marketing wheel for Fabindia. It helps to increase brand exposure, build authority, and connect with new audiences, both current and new.

“Influencers help us target specific audience sets and also provide a certain validation by their personal endorsement of the brand’s message and product portfolio. Content marketing and influencer marketing need to go hand in hand. Even high-quality engaging content performs better with influencer collaboration. Combining both, these approaches can lead to unbelievable results,” added Kumar.

Reaching out to the new-age consumer and millennials

To become more relevant to the new-age customer, millennials included, Fabindia has consciously widened its portfolio, introducing more relevant designs, silhouettes, food, personal care products and home décor accessories. They have also relooked at their price points and have introduced quite a few new ones that they believe will find greater resonance with this exciting customer set.

Kumar went on, “Simultaneously our efforts to engage with this audience have also redoubled across various digital and social media platforms, actively encouraging their participation whether in co- creating marketing content or even seeking their inputs and ideas on new product creation.”

Creating a lasting customer experience

Fabindia is almost obsessed with ‘customer centricity’ and this is at the centre of all ideation around driving customer experience, engagement and reward.

The brand’s experience centre format offers something for the entire family under one roof. With these centres, the aim is to provide a highly engaging and interactive experience to consumers. The experience centres have been attracting a lot of new audience and customers.

“We want the neighbourhood to know that this is a new destination for them and their family, across generations. So, we do a lot of work to localise the experience centres, including carrying out hyper-local marketing around each one of these stores,” said Kumar.

In addition to the brands signature offering across garments, organics, home and personal care, this Fabindia Experience Centre houses a Fabcafé, an interior design studio, wellness centre, an alteration studio and a kids zone that serves as an exclusive recreational area for children to relax, play, discover and create.

Another extremely successful initiative for the brand has been the introduction of Fabfamily, Fabindia’s loyalty rewards programme. The accumulated reward points can be redeemed by the customer on shopping but beyond that, on extremely hand-picked and curated experiences that include craft tours, heritage visits, fine dining experiences and staycations that are really very special.

Burgeoning category

Fabindia has a very large and diverse product range – one that includes apparels, home furnishing and décor, natural and organic foods and of course, beauty and personal care products.

Apparels is the single largest business for Fabindia, in terms of overall revenue. “That said, all of our business categories are growing steadily and quite satisfyingly and we are very happy with what the overall revenue basket currently looks like,” said Kumar.

The two Ds – distribution and demographics

With a presence across 100 cities, all regions and market classes are important for Fabindia – important enough for it to create products that are customised and more uniquely relevant to each of the geographies. “Among all regions, there is a slight skew towards the northern markets but we see this normalising more and more with every passing year,” said Kumar.

Fabindia is a brand for almost everyone in the family with products and offerings that are targeted across gender and age bands. With a range that starts with kids wear and toys meant really for the very young ones, to everything else that they sell and which they see as being relevant to every member of the family, as a brand it clearly straddles generations, consumption segments and market tier classes.

International markets

Fabindia has been receiving a great response from its overseas markets. The brand has stores in Malaysia, Singapore, Dubai, Fiji and there is one each in the US and Italy.

“Our current focus though remains in aggressively expanding within India as we truly believe that there is so much more opportunity for us here to capitalise on,” emphasised Kumar.

Sales from e-commerce websites

“The response that we have got from our online store has been very encouraging and we continue to grow our business through the e-commerce channel as well. Almost 4-5% of our revenue comes from our online store,” said Kumar.

“E-commerce backed by our omnichannel approach, sits on top of our extensive physical retail footprint providing our customers with varied options to research and purchase Fabindia products depending on whichever one is their preferred channel of engagement and purchase,” he concluded.

Info@BestMediaInfo.com

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