PUMA in India has always been in the news for its experimentation with various experiential initiatives. Be it music - with PUMA loves Vinyl, or sport - with PUMA Urban Stampede, or culture building - with PUMA’s sustainable store and PUMA social club lounge; the brand has successfully integrated its philosophy in each of these initiatives thus striking a cord with the consumer. In an interaction with EE, Rajiv Mehta, Managing Director, PUMA India sheds light on the importance of experiential marketing for the brand.

EE: What was the rationale behind the PUMA social club lounge? How does it integrate with PUMA’s philosophy?

We want the club to be a creative space and a spot for anyone who wants to relax and have a few drinks with some good music and entertainment after a long day at work or college. PUMA Social is a global marketing campaign encompassing our Lifestyle category (across apparel, accessories and footwear) – where we celebrate the ‘After Hours Athlete’ – those people who party with a group of friends at their neighborhood bars and watering holes. It made sense for us to have this brand extension of an actual space where these people can party – strengthening the connection with our core target group and getting them to engage with the brand on a very personal level. No other lifestyle brand offers something like this to their audience in India.

EE: What are the attractions at the club?

All the furniture at the store is made from recycled wood and metal and there is a very industrial feel to the space. The ashtrays are old VHS tapes, coasters are discarded floppy discs and the ‘Ultimate Play Machine’ is a heady mix of up-cycled car engines, old video games and musical instruments designed to bring out the inner schizophrenic in all our guests. There’s no other Club like this out there today – with a focus on creative collaboration and sustainability.

EE: Are there any plans to expand this concept in other cities?

Yes, very much. The PUMA Social Club has been a very successful initiative for us and we will certainly look to expand into other cities. But it will always be connected to a large PUMA store – we will not open Social Clubs as standalone spaces.

EE: What was the rationale behind the PUMA sustainable store? When did PUMA aggressively start pushing sustainable means?

In May 2010, the team from India won the first prize at the Global PPR Innovation & Sustainable Development  Awards  for our ambitious project to build an energy efficient eco-designed store in India. As a result, India was chosen as the destination for the first Sustainable Store for PPR and PUMA globally.

The idea was to build a store that would incorporate elements of sustainability in every aspect – right from material selection to the mechanical/electrical installations and design features. PUMA globally changed its mission statement over a year ago to reflect our commitment to becoming the most sustainable sport lifestyle brand and this store is in keeping with that mission statement. We hope to revolutionise the concept of retail spaces in India with the opening of this store and replicate the model in other countries in the future.

EE: What are the sustainable features at the store?

The closed and open surface layout of the building is designed for optimal daylight usage (so less artificial light is used) & heat insulation, and the recessed first & second floor volume generates a stack-effect for natural cooling. The highly insulated building shell, Earth Air Tunnel for pre-cooling of the fresh air supply and roof extractors optimise the stack-effect, thus allowing for AC free cooling. The store ensures customer comfort with no extra energy consumption. Solar PV cells have also been installed at the store, which provide 10,384 kWh units of energy a year to help power the store’s energy requirements. Moreover, the porotherm blocks used to construct the shell of the building have been made using silt from the lakes in Kunigal. These lakes are the only source of water for villages in Kunigal and hence are de-silted every year to increase the water table. The silt ended up as waste earlier but has been used as a valuable resource in the PUMA Sustainable Store.

The steel used in the construction of the building is recycled, and the bamboo suspended volume is also made of recycled bamboo. As opposed to traditional posters made of flex and vinyl, our posters around the store are made of jute and with organic vegetable dyes.

EE: Another experiential initiative of PUMA is the relay race – Urban stampede. Why not a marathon, why a relay race?

With the philosophy of introducing running to people who were fitness-focused but leading busy lifestyles, the idea of a corporate relay race was born. Here, we could get companies to invite their employees to participate in a race where they could run a distance that needed only a month’s training – an easy goal to aim for and fun. Thus, the idea of four people, running 5km each was born. Plus – the marathon concept has already been explored by other brands so this was a different format that made running more accessible to amateurs and serious runners alike. Besides, this format promotes team building.

EE: How does the brand association with Urban Stampede sync with PUMA as a brand?

With synergistic common goals of promoting running in India, Urban Stampede is a great brand fit for PUMA. PUMA Urban Stampede is a competitive run but it is not cut-throat and people enjoy the race. So we spread our brand ethos of joy and fun while simultaneously driving home the point of staying fit. We are a serious Running and High-Performance brand but our products looks great as well – and allow you to be the best and perform at your highest level. Our products are competitive but fun – just like PUMA Urban Stampede. PUMA is also the only sports brand that has ownership of a Running property –we are not mere sponsors but actually are very involved with the property.

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