Jockey India, which had cut off all traditional mediums from the marketing mix amid the Covid-19 pandemic, has now decided to re-introduce TV for the coming quarter.
Karthik Yathindra, Associate Vice-President, Marketing and Product Management, Jockey India, said the brand used to heavily invest in traditional media prior to the pandemic with 20 to 25% of its ad spends in digital.
“We were heavy investors in TV and OOH purely because of our presence and reach in the offline space, including print, radio, and cinema. However, since last year, all of our spending went largely to digital and social (almost 80% of ad spends), as well as BTL. But this year again, outdoor will be at a bare minimum; maybe towards the end of the year we might consider it. TV will be back to the mix this year for sure in the next quarter. About 30 to 40% of the spend will go to TV and the rest on social and digital,” he said.
The brand is now back to pre-Covid levels in terms of marketing investments.
Last year as marketing budget took a dip, it moved its strategy from brand and brand equity building towards sharp targeting.
“Last year was a good year to put a pause in investing on brand-building initiatives, because the equity was pretty good and we started targeting more on product showcases. Started focusing on click-through rates and conversions to make sure every rupee spent gives back in terms of revenue,” he said.
But now since it has a fair sense of recovery, it will continue to invest in marketing similar to pre-Covid levels, which is 5% of its total revenue.
In terms of its business, Yathindra said immediately after the lockdown was lifted last year, it was back to its pre-Covid levels. With recovery faster than anticipated, he said Jockey operates in a segment that is a little more secure than other apparel brands—neither formal wear nor occasion wear but essentials. The pandemic in fact has helped the brand in a lot of ways, he said.
“A lot of our categories became a lot more relevant with the work from home and we saw a huge surge in demand for our home, sleep wear and athleisure wear.
Last year, it reported an annual revenue drop of 4% despite the pandemic showing steady recovery and healthy growth in Q3 and Q4 (of 30% quarter-on-quarter growth).
Another reason for its quick recovery is its robust investments in e-commerce business for almost seven years now. By the time the pandemic hit, its warehousing capabilities, website load time and all of that was pretty robust and it was able to cash in on the opportunity.
“Pre-pandemic, our ecommerce contributed anywhere around 3% to the overall business that jumped to 8% in the last financial year. We're seeing a similar kind of trend this year, as well,” he added. For the offline business, despite the pandemic, it ended up opening close to 200 new exclusive brand stores.
As it competes with multiple established home-grown, global and new-age retailers, Yathindra, said Jockey’s comfort, fit and quality still remains the USP.
While it operates in men, women, kids’ and athleisure categories, in terms of geographies, the brand is already well penetrated in the metros, tier one and tier two cities and has initiated efforts to go towards tier three as well, he said.
Brand’s journey through riveting commercials
The brand has been present in India for more than 25 years and has always taken the bold approach towards advertising with taglines such as ‘Genuine Jockey’, ‘Feels like Jockey’ And ‘Jockey or nothing’.
But it is often targeted when it comes to inclusivity and diversity in the advertisements. As it continues to showcase foreign models in the ads curated for common Indian audiences, Yathindra said the brand has been making serious efforts to change it.
“This is something that we are tuned into discussions internally almost on an everyday basis. There are many brands that come to India and take different routes of communication. For instance, Amazon positioned itself as ‘I am as Indian as you are’. However, the stand that we took back in the ’90s when we were introduced in India was to be true to the brand. And it is an American brand. That is why we never miscommunicated or misrepresented ourselves as ‘Indian’, even when the market was flooded with a lot of local domestic players,” he said.
It is the only thing that differentiated Jockey as an international brand, he said, which allowed it to command a premium in the market.
Introduced in India in a full page ad on Times of India, Jockey through the first ad made a bold statement, saying ‘Burn your briefs, because Jockey has arrived!’
The brand started off with a lot of brand-building activities, and had used international creatives to build the brand, including ‘The Next Best Thing To Naked’.
“All these were largely brand-building campaigns because back then Jockey was alien to the country. We had to build the brand and build awareness for it. So that is the kind of approach we took,” he said.
But in 2007, when Page Industries went public, the brand had put funding to good use and started creating the positioning for Jockey, which was unique for India, and very different from what it was in America or Europe or Australia. And this is when the campaign ‘Just Jockeying’ was launched.
Thereafter in 2011 it went ahead with ‘Jockey or Nothing’ as a positioning, which still remains today.
‘Jockey or Nothing’:
In the last decade, it has broken its communication strategy into overall umbrella brand building, which is driving the positioning and the product showcase. Almost 40% of its communication strategy goes towards showcasing the product through static communication such as outdoor and print. From 2018 onwards, it also introduced the sub-brand approach for jockey women, juniors and athleisure.
“We've been very true to how we communicate our campaigns. Even though all of our campaigns are conceptualised and put to place by a team sitting here, we always wanted to make sure it was of international standard; we use Hollywood crew to make our films and our communication, and we've always kept it that way. I believe audiences in tier two and tier three today have exposure to all kinds of international brands. Slowly, the origin of brands is blurring out and consumers are able to see through it,” he added.
In the next one or two years, the brand is trying to become a lot more inclusive, he said.
“If you've seen only white skin or the American models in our ads, it doesn't mean India is any less for us. Jockey is truly a global brand. This is what we'll bring in our communication going forward and will see a significant portion of people from across the globe featured and hence, the relatability is going to be that much better,” he said.