Reebok India – From facing an 870 crore fraud to withholding a premium image


The fitness market estimated to be over Rs 2,500 crore, is growing at a rate of 25 per cent. Every sporting brand wants to grab the attention of its consumer in a way that the only name that resounds with fitness is theirs. As part of the global strategy, Reebok started its brand repositioning exercise in the beginning of the year. It has opened seven Fit Hub stores of which two have been Reebok stores earlier. Its repositioning in a larger space of fitness seems to have worked well. Within five years, the company plans to convert all the Reebok stores into Fit Hubs.

“Our Gurgaon and Faridabad stores were the initial ones to get converted into Fit Hubs. We are seeing 50 to 80 per cent increase in sales value in these stores since the conversion. There is a proportionate growth in footfalls as well,” said Somdeb Basu, Brand Director, Reebok India.

The retail shelves of Fit Hub stores stock only 5 per cent of goods meant for active sportspersons. By the first quarter of the calendar year 2014, Reebok would have converted 50 of its Reebok stores into Fit Hubs and would have added 50 new ones. In four to five years all the remaining 450 Reebok stores would become Fit Hubs. Reebok India, which was at the centre of a Rs 870-crore fraud last year, is rolling out its all-new "fitness strategy" in the country, which has five aspects to it. "The first is our emphasis on running, which all sports wear brands in general are doing. The second is training, which is also being pursued by other brands. But we have taken this to the next level with our tie-ups with gyms and trainers, promotion and sponsorship of a global fitness programme called CrossFit, and use of brand ambassadors such as Mahendra Singh Dhoni for training-related communication such as the one we are doing with a product of ours called RealFlex," says Basu.

“We have roped in a host of celebrities from Bollywood and sports to promote the new concept. We recently signed up actors John Abraham and Nargis Fikri. Along with that we have also associated ourselves with fitness chains like Cross Fit, Fitness First and Sports Fit to promote Rebook’s new brand identity,” divulges Somdeb Basu.

The remaining focal points for Reebok are segments which are coming into their own - footwear targeted at those into dancing, aerobics, yoga and cycling - bunched under what the company calls its studio range. It also has shoes for those who prefer to stay in shape by walking or toning their muscles and a fashion line for those who like to step out in a colourful pair of sports shoes in the evening. "We have always been known as a fitness brand. We are now sharpening our focus," Basu says. Reinforcing of fitness themes is the result of consumer demands today. A consumer that walks into a fitness store knows exactly what they want thanks to the exposure they have to fitness routines and training programmes on television and the Internet. They have become brand conscious, more aware and are willing to shell out the money for the right pair of shoes – provided of course they are convinced it solves their purpose.

Reebok doesn’t fall behind in the race of experiential – giving its consumers the fitness experience. The sports brand came up with a new running shoe - Reebok One - and to create visibility and awareness for it, the brand along with DDB MudraMax OOH team decided to cover malls and major traffic junctions of the various cities.

“Reebok one is a high impact campaign designed to ensure that the consumer gets attracted towards the product and understands how the 3 zones can help a runner. This is being conveyed at every touch point be it retail or OOH. The consumer is introduced to this technology powered shoe in a compelling manner”, said Reebok brand director Somdev Basu. The campaign’s objective was to urge people to visit the showrooms and try the new Reebok One.

To highlight the USP of the shoe the DDB MudraMax team came out with the idea of lighting the three parts/zones which help the person to land softly, transition smoothly and push forward quickly. The creative idea was to relate the foot movement with the zones in the shoe and the strategy was to take good clear hoardings and mall facades and highlight the 3 key functions of the shoe.

But do these initiatives actually impact sales? Bare visibility cannot be the only thing a brand wants to go for. There has to be a direct or indirect impact on sales. “The Reebok Running Squad (RRS) was born from the thought that everyone can run. But not everyone is trained for a long distance run. With RRS we wanted to make it a way of life. Therefore, no on-the-face activation was part of the running squads. However, with the help of the experts and coaches we had tied up with, we could build the brand image and loyalty and expertise in the area. With the success this year, we plan to take it to at least six metros in 2014,” said Somdeb Basu, Brand Director, Reebok India.

To build loyalty, Reebok realized the importance of ‘giving back’. While there was no direct sales pitch or any money taken, there were product trainings conducted in the squad. The result was that runners would go to the stores and buy those shoes themselves. The regular runners were also gifted a pair of Reebok One shoes while runners with good potential were given other merchandise.

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