Puma, the global brand known for its lifestyle sports apparel and shoes, is looking to strengthen its position in India. It is eyeing the top slot in the segment via a nationwide network expansion as well as the launch of its global brands pitched at the Indian sports enthusiast. Abhishek Ganguly, the new managing director of PUMA India, is looking to reposition the brand in the country. Puma is currently in the second spot behind Adidas in India's Rs 5000-crore sportswear market, followed by Nike.
“We are in process of creating a strong brand awareness through various marketing and product launch initiative,” Ganguly said. “We are bullish on India and we have seen a major shift to high end products by Indian consumers. Hence, we want to bring our global sports assets to India shortly."
From its global kitty, Puma has already launched two leading shoe brands, Mobium and Faas, in India. The Mobium Ride, priced at about Rs 9,000, is built for the more traditional heel striker looking for an everyday running shoe. The company also launched the Nightcat Powered edition under Mobium brand. The Faas 600 S is priced in the Rs 8,000 range in India.
According to Ganguly, Indian consumers are ready to move into high-end technical shoes which costs Rs 10000-15,000 for daily jogging. "A few years ago, we saw the trend of buying any kind of sports shoes for jogging by Indian middle class families. Nowadays, they are more brand conscious, unable to compromise on quality and ready to pay premium for the sports shoes," he said.
According to data from the Registrar of Companies, Adidas generated sales of Rs 625 crore in financial year 2011-13, while Puma had sales of Rs 497 crore, ahead of Nike (Rs 385 crore) and Reebok (Rs 125 cr). Puma had registered India sales of Rs 352 crore in the previous fiscal year.
Puma will continue their investments in India by adding more stores in cities as well as Tier-II cities. "We don’t believe in setting up more stores just for the sake of expansion. We are looking select pockets,”Ganguly said, adding that the company has identified new malls coming up at Mumbai, Delhi and Hyderabad to start the new stores.
On the marketing front, Puma has launched the ‘Forever Faster’ campaign and is partnering with the Indian Super League football franchise. On the product side, the company is bringing another range of brands which for elite runners and more expensive than the Mobium and Faas series.
Forever Faster was Puma’s effort to re-establish the brand by highlighting its users in areas of football such as Arsenal, Balotelli and running. World record holder Usain Bolt will run the 2016 Olympics sprints in PUMA gear, too. As part of the brand positioning, Bolt, who is Puma ambassador and the fastest man in the world, had formally launched Forever Faster in India in September 2014.
However, Ganguly seems to be less aggressive on online or e-commerce sales in India. "Though the beginners or first time buyers may go to online stores, but the serious, hardcore sportspersons visit our offline stores to know the specification of the high-end products. We see majority of our revenue comes from the offline stores," he said.