Shreyas Kulkarni

When shoe brand Neeman’s decided to take the mickey out of itself

The D2C sustainable shoe brand is capitalising on its ad blitzkrieg, looking to rule offline retail and doesn’t fear the present uncertain economic climate.

There are shoe brands and shoe brands. Neeman’s is the latter; it’s the one that wants you to wear wool shoes all year long. Don’t worry, the brand claims it will keep you cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

Don’t believe us? Well, to back its claim, the brand got actor Jim Sarbh to tell us that it uses “ultra-thin material and temperature regulation properties”.

Also Read: Will you wear shoes made out of wool?

Founded in 2018, the Hyderabad-based sustainable footwear company has made a name for itself with ads extolling its environment-friendly footwear (sneakers, joggers, loafers and slippers) made from Merino wool, recycled PET bottles as well as tyres.

Many people ended up watching the ads on its social media channels so, the brand decided to take the mickey out of itself in one ad.

Taran Chhabra, Neeman’s founder, tells afaqs! that they decided to take a stab at themselves and ask, “Okay, you're watching the ads, but what next?"

The ad, made in-house, features two friends talking about the unending number of Neeman’s ads and appear disenchanted. But a third friend, after watching the ads, went on to buy a pair.

As per Chhabra, their existing customers and those who had not bought the shoes, were the inspirations for the ad.

From its maiden campaign with standup comic and actor Vir Das to ones featuring cricketers Jasprit Bumrah and Hardik Pandya to celebrities like Ranvijay Singha (Roadies fame), actors Ali Fazal and Bhumi Pednekar, isn’t the awareness-building phase over for the brand?

“These are mini-campaigns for us,” says Chhabra and goes on to explain that Neeman’s was built on the pillars of comfort and sustainability. The brand talks about how breathable and lightweight its shoes are.

“Sustainability is a bigger pillar and, within it, there are multiple features that entice people to buy. Then, every month, we pick four features as well as behaviours, and go after them.”

Neeman’s footwear are available on its website, and e-commerce sites such as Amazon, Myntra and Flipkart and prices can go up to Rs 5,000.

As per an April 2022 Moneycontrol report, Neeman’s is in talks with institutional investors and growth funds to raise around Rs 100-120 crore in series B funding. However, considering the present economic scenario of high inflation, worries of an upcoming recession and investors tightening their purses, is the brand looking to tweak its media spending?

“Not really,” says Chhabra. The media budget is under control. Neeman’s will not be hit by the current scheme of things and is not looking to reduce budgets on any medium, he adds.

Chhabra would not reveal numbers, but mentions that the “budget could be anywhere from 25-30 per cent of the revenue they’re going after, in terms of media money”.

It’s no wonder then that such enthusiasm has led Neeman’s to foray into offline retail. Chhabra reveals that the brand is available in about 30 store-in-store models, and can also be found at retail outlets like Shopper’s Stop, Regal and Central.

“We plan to be available in 100-150 such locations in the next coming months,” mentions Chhabra. Neeman’s, as of now, is only available in metros and a few Tier-I cities.

When asked about the rivals, Chhabra says, “Competition, for us, is everybody who sells footwear. Our brand-building and storytelling are extremely strong, because footwear is not a category that's an impulse purchase. But when you think of buying, we want you to consider us.”

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