Benita Chacko

Relaxo’s Sparx rebrands; out with self belief themed positioning

Steering away from the norm, the brand made the announcement on digital platforms before television.

Relaxo is rebranding its sportswear brand Sparx and has changed its positioning to #ItsInMe from their earlier ‘Add Sparx to your life’. The announcement was first made through a campaign shared by its brand ambassador Akshay Kumar on his Instagram handle alongside the digital launch. This is the first time that the brand, which has traditionally spent big on television, has launched a campaign on the digital media before television, signalling a shift in the brand’s strategy.

“Earlier we used to start with television. But this time we felt we should let Kumar promote this first and then we'll carry it forward on television. From now on we will try to have a digital launch first, as it reaches far more people. Digital has grown in India. So this year there will be a lot of spends on digital,” said Gaurav Dua, executive director, marketing and sales, Relaxo Footwear in an interview with afaqs!

The other digital initiatives as part of this campaign includes an influencer challenge, where influencers would challenge their followers to show the ‘Sparx’ in them with #ItsInMeChallenge. There will also be influencer unboxing videos, videos from the making of the film and a Shoe Shake challenge that motivates people to observe Social Distancing norms.

“Being a youth brand, Sparx has to be wherever the youth are. The youth are online now- be it on OTT platforms or on digital news platforms. E-commerce has also seen a spurt. So we have to be on this platform. We have been slowly transitioning online since the last two years. Our highest expenditure will still be on TV and then followed by digital,” he added.

The campaign, conceptualised by DDB Mudra, also featured in the leading newspapers on Thursday and will make the television debut on Friday.

‘It’s in Me’ is a shout-out for youngsters to push their boundaries, defeat their doubts, and to remind them that the capability to achieve is already in them. With the repositioning Relaxo intends to shift the focus from the brand to the consumer. Dua said that it wants to instill self-belief in the consumers.

Gaurav Dua
Gaurav Dua

“Instead of the brand saying ‘Add Sparx to your life’ the new tagline is like a consumer saying ‘It’s in me’. Sparx is an enabler now. Everybody knows Akshay can do a lot of stunts, he is agile and fit. But through this campaign we want to say that even you are like him. If you take on challenges and believe in yourself, you can achieve everything you desire,” he said.

Dua said that this would give consumers a sense of ownership over the brand. “Instead of the company asking the consumer to add Sparx to their life, the consumer should own it and feel like it's their brand. Sparx has been in the market for 15 years, and people are it’s proud owners. So it's for them to celebrate that the spark is in them,” he added.

Sparx has been in the market for 15 years, and people are it’s proud owners. So it's for them to celebrate that the spark is in them

The film shows Kumar preparing for a shot on a film set. When he’s informed that his co-star has not arrived, he inspires a youngster to be like him and tackle the challenge head on. Sparx has always focussed on the youth and this campaign only pushes them to believe in their capacity to achieve more.

India is the second largest global producer of footwear after China. Currently Relaxo Footwear is the leading footwear brand in India, followed by Bata India, with a 10% share in the market. Apart from Sparx, Relaxo also owns brands like Flite and Bahamas. Manufacturing on an average seven lakh pairs of footwear per day, they produced over 20 crores pairs of footwear last year.

The company reported a 27.83 per cent increase in net profit to Rs 30.96 crore in the quarter ended in June 2021. Dua said they benefited from the huge demand for open footwear and also the raw material prices were less.

“We were in a good position to cater to the huge demand for slippers. Secondly the raw material prices were quite less and we have controlled our expenses because of that there was good margin growth,” he added.

The company roughly spends about four to five per cent of their revenue on advertising and marketing.

With everyone being locked up inside their homes during the pandemic, the footwear industry took a major hit. During the first lockdown in March-May 2020, the brand had zero sales. Dua said that this time has brought several changes to the consumer preferences.

“There have been a lot of changes since the pandemic hit. With people staying at home, majorly sales came from open footwear (slippers). But now in the last two to three months, with people getting back to offices, sales of closed footwear has risen again. There's a huge demand coming for sports and outdoor shoes,” he said.

Its major sales come from multi-brand outlets, followed by ecommerce platforms Amazon and Flipkart. They also do sales from their own website. “Apart from multi-brand outlets, we currently have 400 exclusive brand outlets (EBOs). It was not doing well due to the pandemic. But from last month onwards, we have seen that it is going back to the pre-pandemic level,” he said.

Dua’s association with Relaxo over the last two decades has given him a ringside view of the footwear industry. In his opinion, the last five years has transformed the industry with GST, demonetisation and COVID. “With all this coming in the unorganised sector is facing several difficulties in terms of new regulations. The government is also keen to shift the informal sector to the formal economy. All this has given the organised space an edge,” he said.

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