We Spend 30% Of Our Budget On Experiential Marketing: Sanjeev Rao, Being Human

In our BrandCraft series, Everything Experiential gets into a tete-a-tete with Sanjeev Rao, CEO, Being Human Clothing who delves into the experiential marketing efforts of the brand, utilising various ways to tap the youth, Indian versus international markets and more


The strong star-face of Being Human, Salman Khan, has made in-roads into the hearts of not only the youth in India but also internationally, through his brand.

Established in 2012 as an extension of Being Human - The Salman Khan Foundation, Being Human Clothing has made its mark in the apparel industry with a unique blend of philanthropy and fashion. Despite its relatively short tenure of a little more than a decade, the brand has made significant strides, leveraging a retail approach while staying true to its style ethos. With a network spanning over 500 retail outlets, Being Human wishes to emerge as a frontrunner in casualwear. Its ambitions extend beyond borders, with plans for global expansion. Looking ahead, the brand remains committed to its humanitarian mission, using the power of clothing to effect positive change, guided by The Salman Khan - Being Human Foundation's charitable endeavours. Their belief in the transformative potential of clothing fuels their vision to make a difference in society.

Being Human is growing YoY at about 28%. The brand allots a percentage of about 30 per cent, particularly for experiential marketing.

Needless to say, the brand’s TG is the Gen Z and the millennial, for whom the biggest discovery that they do is always on their mobile device, their laptop or any other digital device.

In our BrandCraft series, Everything Experiential gets into a tete-a-tete with Sanjeev Rao, CEO, Being Human Clothing who delves into the experiential marketing efforts of the brand, utilising various ways to tap the youth, Indian versus international markets and more.


Experiential marketing is becoming a part of the media mix of most brands. How does Being Human plan to take to experiential marketing in terms of building the brand?

Well, experiential marketing for us is very decent because we believe that experiential marketing is basically where you get to understand the product better. And overall, as a brand that does marketing, we always focus on that piece.

But after a certain point in time, because the brand is established, we do not spend as large an amount on brand marketing as we would on experiential marketing. So even in experiential marketing, if we have to drill down to each of the sub-levels - we go into geotagging people or communities, areas, geographies, etc.

How are you getting your cohort to actively engage with the brand in terms of on-ground activations and at the stores?

Considering that our TG is the Gen Z and the millennial, one needs to understand that with them, it is not about loyalty. It is about relevance. As long as my product is relevant to Gen Z and the millennials, they'll come and buy. And also the fact that while we market it to them, we have various modes of marketing.

We always understand that it is the single voice of the customer, it is the same customer. The consumer who is experiencing my brand on various platforms and channels, understanding what he/she wears, understanding what their colour tastes are, understanding the frequency of their buying and the consumption of their buying is what designs what I market to them. So, instead of sending them messages that they will delete, we will send them possibly three messages which are very relevant to them. That's the way that positions our entire marketing.  A lot of it is AI-based.

For example, a Gen Z in Mumbai is not very different from a Gen Z in Patna or a Gen Z in maybe Agartala. But yes, the Gen Z, what they wear for a party in Mumbai might be slightly different from what they wear in Patna, or someplace else. That is the slicing and dicing that we do in terms of understanding the consumers’ preferences and thereby marketing that to them.

With Being Human being present internationally as well, how do you view the similarities and differences between the Indian and international markets, when it comes to utilising experiential marketing to build the brand and consumer engagement, too?

India was always a little ahead of the curve in terms of adopting technology. I mean, we all know that the way the world adopted technology, India adopted technology way faster.

Possibly the hunger to move fast has enabled that. If I see my international stores, the experience that we provide to the consumer is very important.

If I have to market my product at a store level, to a consumer, who's coming in is very different in India versus Canada. In Canada, technically, signages talk a lot about what your product is, and the product descriptions are mentioned. It's a lot about the non-interfering kind of marketing that we use. Because consumers in Canada walk into a store, they find the product on their own, they try the product on their own. They do not want too much of – “Can I help you, sir?” Maybe once, but not more than that, if they do not need it. Therefore, the experiential marketing piece there is slightly higher than what we do.

The similarity is that when we enter a country, we are very clear that we will enter a country which has a huge Asian population. So therefore, Bangladeshis, Indians, Emiratis, Arabs, and Sri Lankans, all of them are our TG. In that geography, in that kind of diaspora, our brand is very well known.

Technically, there's always a saying that when you're out of India, you are two times more an Indian. If you go to Canada, the US, London, or anywhere in the UK or Europe, you will notice that Indians celebrate festivals way better than what we Indians celebrate in India. Because they miss their country. They miss those festivities, so they try to do a little more.

Similarly, when we take our brand abroad, we see that the attachment to the brand is so high that people travel six hours by road just because we have opened a store in Toronto. When we opened in Bangladesh, we had about a two-and-a-half kilometre queue outside the store just to buy.

I'm not saying we are God's gift to mankind and therefore people are there. But we also sell good fashion, and we sell it at a good price. But we are probably one of the few first movers from India, being an Indian brand, going abroad and setting up stores without even blinking an eyelid, we are going to compete with all the international brands which are available in that country.

Sponsoring and associating with fashion shows, fests, and events of different kinds, even sports events – how does Being Human look at this arena of connecting with the consumer on-ground, directly?

We do college fests. We are a masstige brand, so we go to colleges.

But at the same time, we have the same Gen Z and millennials who are also going to golf courses to play golf. Golf is no longer a 40+ game or a 50+ game. I can go to any golf course in India today, you'll find 20-25-year-olds, playing golf. And we market ourselves there.

We market ourselves wherever the youth or there is a concert or things like that. So yes, there is a multipronged approach that we adopt to kind of garner the eyeballs for the young consumers. That's where we try to create a differentiation.

Considering sports events would happen, surely when we are of that size, we will participate in a big way. However, one point is very important, there are different ways of putting across our vision and how to attract people to our brand. We do a lot of beach cleanings, desert cleanings, and a lot of community services where we involve the youth.

We are a conscious brand, so we do just not talk about sustainability, but we talk about a whole lot of other initiatives that we are taking up as a brand. Whether it is to connect with the farmers and directly procure cotton from them thereby giving them a good price through Fair Trade International, or whether it is planting trees, saving water by reducing about 80% of the water used to wash your denim etc. There are many ways wherein the youth supports our brand because millennials are far more conscious than possibly people who are beyond a certain age level. And we have seen that they're very conscious about what they buy, what they wear, how it affects the environment, etc. So that's one way that we spend our money rather than having a logo in an IPL.

What is important to understand is that this brand is not a brand that is not known. Of course, top-of-the-mind recall is very important. Everybody knows the colas, but the colas still go there and advertise and we are at all there at that level. But at the same time, we believe that money needs to be spent on certain serious issues which can be a pull for the consumers to consume our conscious products.

What are your views in terms of implementing technological innovations such as AI, AR, VR etc as part of your experiential marketing efforts to get the young consumer to be interested in your brand?

Whether it is AI, AR, or ML - these are hygiene. The implementation of AI, AR, ML, all of that is there today in retail. As I always say, there's no getting away from it and it is no longer can I have - it is a must-have. We are looking at implementing AI for our brand online, where you can create your avatar and you can choose clothes that are going to fit you, but you're actually looking at your avatar and you could just drag and make yourself look how you look in our clothes, in our T-shirt, denim, jackets, etc. So that's one part of it.

When we talk about our replenishment models in our supply chain, we use a lot of AI there where we get to understand what is selling in which store at an SKU level and what is not moving at an SKU level at a particular store. But that same SKU is maybe selling 4000 miles away in another store. And the entire transhipment of that is completely controlled through AI and ML.

So it's just not about the quality of clothes or the price of your clothing. That is, any which way considered that you have to be good, but it's about how seamlessly you make the consumer shop. So if it is omnichannel, which is hygiene today you can sit at home and order clothes. And if you don't like it, you might have a store 100 meters from your house or 1 km from your house, you could go and return it there - you might buy it in a store and return it online. That flexibility has set in. Convenience has become the key for the consumer today, keeping every other constant as hygiene.

What future trends do you foresee in experiential marketing about the apparel industry, and how will Being Human adapt its strategies to remain relevant and effective?

I think the future will always be that I can predict what you want even before you can predict it. So that's typically what will make any brand of any company a revolutionary brand today.

If I just look at Ola and Uber - they were massive disruptors in the market. If you look at touch phones - even before people imagined that they could be something like a touch phone, a touch phone came out. That's going beyond your expectations. So we don't know in fashion how the future will shape out. But yes, one thing is for sure, as consumer tastes, preferences, consumption and shopping methodology are changing, only those brands will survive who adapt to or adopt it in a very seamless manner.

I cannot say that in five years, you'll be wearing digital skin. No, I don't know. But I can say that, yes, five years from now, while transiting an airport without me having a store in my airport - if you like something on your phone, is it possible for me to deliver it to you while you're exiting from your destination airport? Maybe. So those are the conveniences that we can work on. But I'm sure a denim would remain a denim.

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