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Special Report

Our positioning is of an outdoor adventure brand

Edit Bureau 22 February 2013

Amol Dhillon is the Vice President of Strategy & Planning at Woodland, and is responsible for driving the company’s brand management functions: Branding, Communication & Media, New Product Identity, and Innovation Management. He also oversees marketing research, online retail and social media, merchandising and overseas business development. Since joining Woodland in 1999, he has served in various leadership positions in areas like business development, merchandising & sourcing, and worked across various divisions and markets including India, Hong Kong, China, Europe and Canada. Edited excerpts of his interview with 4Ps B&M:

How did Woodland’s journey start in India? Which milestones have you crossed in the course of expansion of your product portfolio and retail network?

Woodland is a brand from Canada, which is famous for outdoor sports. We started our journey in India in the early 1990s with shoes. Then in 1996-97 we entered the apparel category in segments like cargos, jacket & outdoor gear. After a couple of years we started selling adventure gear like tents, outdoor campaign gear and other equipment. These products catered to a very narrow niche. The aim was to introduce these products in the Indian market. So far we have not brought all the adventure products to the Indian market. But we see the potential growing. Slowly customers have started demanding these kinds of adventure gear.

What is the share of Woodland in the footwear market in India?

The footwear industry in India is worth about Rs.25,000 crore. We are operating in a very niche category – catering to outdoors footwear – which is 10% of the overall footwear market. Currently, we are doing sales of Rs.850 crore. In the overall footwear market there are many sports brands, both organised and unorganized but we were the first mover in the outdoors category.

How would you describe Woodland’s positioning and how has it helped to grow and promote the brand?

Woodland is positioned as an outdoor adventure brand that provides outdoor apparel, shoes and gear to youngsters, majorly catering to the 18-25 age group. We provide functional products that last long. That is the USP of our products. These products, be it shoes, apparel or adventure gear, can be used in extreme conditions compared to the products of our competitors. So we use a material that is durable and functional.

As part of our brand positioning we promote adventure sports in India. All the events we do are aligned to adventure sports. That is why our brand ambassador is a person who has been to Mount Everest. Professionals who do bungee jumping and para gliding are on our board. They also give insights to us on how we can improve our products to make them tougher and more durable, what materials we should use in a product and what new designs we could manufacture.
 
Your unique positioning makes you take up a lot of BTL activities. What kind of activities have you done in the past and plan to do in the future?

We have a camp site in Rishikesh and Madhya Pradesh. We have taken on an initiative of ProPlanet for educating our target group (18-25 years) on environment so that they can take up adventure without harming the environment. We associate ourselves with festivals like Sunburn, which is a music festival that is mostly attended by our target group. Currently we are working with UNICEF on a drinking water project. Our care for the environment extends to our stores. In Karnataka and Delhi our stores are carbon neutral and we are aiming to turn all our stores carbon neutral by 2015.

What has been the response to your products for the teens segment?

Traditionally the 18-24 age bracket has been our core target group. We feel that the adventure category starts at the early stage of life, basically during the school years when children are more active and want to explore more. In early 2009, we did a few trials and we got a very good response. So we introduced more vibrant colors for teenagers, offering them functional gear with a styling factor as well.

Are there plans to open a new category showrooms for teens? How many stores do you currently posses and what are your plans for future growth?

We are not planning on opening any new category showroom for teenagers. We currently have 400 stores in India. Some of these stores are really big – 5,000 square feet plus. So there is ample of space to showcase all categories under one roof. We have opened 60 stores in this financial year so far and have plans to open 55-60 more stores in the next financial year. We are hitting the target of 500 plus stores across India. About 25% of these stores are coming in tier-1 cities. We have already have very good distribution network. So we look for locations that have the growth potential. And if it’s there we go there. We have opened in places like Bhatinda, Paitala & Cochin. Our target group is present all across the big metros, tier-1 and tier 2 cities.

Considering that you are primarily a youth brand, what initiatives have you taken to promote the brand through the digital medium?

We are the 12th largest online community in the world, with over two million fans on Facebook. We are also actively present on Twitter. We have a customized video on the YouTube channel where people can upload there adventure and crazy videos. Since the past two years we have beene very active on the digital front. Last year we did a campaign on LinkedIn “Step Out for a Greener Economy” for ProPlanet which was done on World Environment on June 5. The campaign lasted for 45 days and we got more than 100,000 participants. Now many B-schools have taken it up as a case study on “How did this campaign go viral”.

What was your revenue last year and how much does apparel contribute to it?

Last year our turnover was Rs.730 crore. This year we have already done more that Rs.850 crore. In the month of November we did really well. Sales were double than that of the same month a year before. We are growing at an average of 30% year on year. This year we are hopeful that we will touch Rs.865 crore. About 30% of our total turnover comes from apparel.

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