Iconic footwear brand Bata recently celebrated 123 years of being in business (they have been in India for the last 85 years) by launching their new TV commercial titled Me. And Comfortable with it.
While the commercial itself shows women in a positive light – it is really the central ethos of the commercial that is bound to strike a chord with every woman – what you wear and what you do must not slot you into being labelled. The shoes, of course, are wonderfully inserted into the advertisement and on this occasion, Bata also had a fun fashion show at Delhi’s iconic Imperial Hotel that showcased several of its collections including Insolia – the most comfortable high heels, Pata Pata’s ‘Masala collection’ a must-have fashionable flip-flops women’s daily wear Bata Comfit, Northstar – the casual urban youth range, the sporty Power range and the stylish men’s European Collection in multiple visual capsules of inspiration and design. Here are excerpts from my exclusive interview with Rajeev Gopalakrishnan, President, Bata Emerging Markets, South Asia.
What is the secret behind the fact that Bata has lasted for all these years so successfully?
The secret is that we have evolved with changing trends and over the last 7 years, we have evolved our product range and even our store ambience. I think the important evolution has mainly been to understand what today’s audience wants. This has helped us keep pace with what has happened in the market. We need to change our brand image as we have an additional 16 million women who will be in the workforce in a decade. In India specifically, the market is also going to change completely in the next 10 years and we need to anticipate that today to stay ahead of the times. women will certainly be the game changers as their numbers are also looking upwards in the corporate stream.
Why is there an increased focus on women?
Women will certainly be the game changers as their numbers are also looking upwards in the corporate stream. With the help of our design team in Italy we have come up with the Insolia collection which allows women to walk in high heels comfortable – “walk longer, walk taller”. This will help us as well as working women will benefit from these shoes. Also, we plan to launch over 100 designs of Northstar in out top 200 stores by August 2017. And our Power range has done well as we had about 4000 pairs that came in and we now have 3-4 pairs left in a matter of a few months. The average age of the consumer will be 27 by 2020 and it is important we focus and address that market.
What are the new initiatives being taken by the brand?
Our kids line is doing very well and with 350 million children under the age of 14 means, India has a fantastic opportunity. And we have one of the best brands with us in Bubble Gummers and we have just signed a deal to open the first exclusive Bubble Gummers store in a mall in Bangalore. We are also trying to take our own brands outside and have exclusive stores that will have a larger collection. They will be available in Bata also but more variety in the exclusive stores.
What are the trends you are seeing in footwear?
In terms of men’s shoes, it is pretty contemporary in terms of styling and pointed designs and leather is coming back. People have moved from dressy, formal shoes to casual shoes. For ladies we are looking at more colourful and more blingy – and from the month of August you will see a festive and party range of footwear in our top 100 stores in the country. Also, our Power range will see more colours especially pinks and greens.
As I replay the new TVC, it becomes clear why Bata as a brand has been able to stay ahead of the curve. For me personally, the commercial rightly said what I wanted to hear, “it makes you what a man can never be – a woman!” If you haven’t seen the commercial yet catch it right here:
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