Pepsi is all set to mark its foray into the fashion industry at the upcoming Lotus India Fashion Week through a collaboration with homegrown ready-to-wear label HUEMN. Created by designer duo Pranav Misra and Shyma Shetty, the collection mainly comprises statement athleisure.
Few months ago, the Yum! Brands-owned fast-food chain KFC joined hands with Mumbai-based pop-culture merchandise startup, The Souled Store to make its debut in the branded merchandise space. This leads us to the million dollar question on whether this is going to work on Indian shores. Are Indians really willing to flaunt brand logos on their clothing?
We turn to a few veterans to seek answers…
Vineet Trakroo, chief executive officer, Evolution Strategy Advisors
I had a Coca-Cola t-shirt from yesteryear bought in the US at a rock bottom clearance sale, cause this was a failed venture from about a decade ago or more. But Tommy Hilfiger has again got into a license alliance with Coke earlier this year. Pepsi has been cloning Coke in various ways over decades, whether it’s the product or packaging. This seems just another attempt.
Today, parents and schools are keeping kids away from colas, which is affecting their growth as well as their image. What's left for these brands is to retain its existing consumer base and create more opportunities for associating with the youth, which Pepsi has always done.
This seems to be a tactical event based association, unlike the Coke’s association with a strong brand, such as Tommy Hilfiger. Whether this would work for any of them seems difficult as both these brands haven't been able to successfully extend their offerings beyond the basic cola and sugarless variants. Brand licensing of a de-growing brand is just another opportunity to gain additional profits.
Would Indians like to wear logos? Yes, if they are iconic brands, such as Harley Davidson, Ferrari, that too, for a select few. Fashion and style is not in the DNA of any cola brand.
Prabhakar Mundkur, a brand strategy advisor
You can expect most global brands to just follow what the brand is doing in other parts of the world. Earlier this year, Forever 21 and Pepsi collaborated on a line of apparel, accessories, and beach products. But, soon after, Forever 21 filed for bankruptcy.
So, the brand that you associate with is extremely important here. I hope HUEMN is a brand that is not going to go bankrupt in the near future. I'm not sure if colas tying up with fashion earns the cola brand any more credit from the consumer.
Indians love wearing logos on their clothing. I am just not sure if they would want to wear Pepsi in preference to Nike, Adidas, M & S, Levi's or Uniqlo (which has just been launched in Delhi). I think it is a big challenge for Pepsi to be preferred to other brands of clothing.
I think when brands, such as Pepsi collaborate with clothing lines they are trying to bring the pop values Pepsi represents to fashion and therefore take this whole affair beyond the colas. "Pop culture acumen — from sport and music to art and culture — is embedded in our Pepsi brand identity. It's exciting to see our brand extend its power beyond the refreshing cola it is traditionally known for," Natalia Filippociants, senior marketing director of Pepsi is known to have said.
Alpana Parida, managing director, DY Works, a brand strategy and design firm
A couple of decades ago, Louis Vuitton had a loyalty club that was meant for high value customers of their bags. But a shoe customer was automatically enrolled in the loyalty club regardless of value. That was because LV shoes had the logo inside the shoe and it was believed that only true loyalists didn’t care if the logo showed or not.
Since then, LV has changed their strategy as a new generation of first time luxury buyers from China and India entered the market — as they all seek goods with logos that reflect the value of what they bought. The new generation of consumers is extremely logo conscious.
Today, brands across categories are looking for multiple ways to stay relevant in a consumer's head-space in whatever way possible. They need to be capable enough to stay alive in a consumer's life beyond just the moment of consumption.
I feel Indians are embracing this trend by all means. Bira is one such example. Last year, the Delhi-based alcoholic beverage player launched its online store to sell wide range of items such as growlers, glasses, apparel and collectibles.
K Vaitheeswaran, e-commerce consultant and founder of Indiaplaza, India's first e-commerce website
If there is a match between the customer and the brand attributes the logo represents, customers would not mind wearing a logo. Young millennials will be open to sporting a logo on their clothes if it is cool, fun, young, modern, etc, such as a Google or a Facebook. Elderly people may be open to sporting respected, wise and durable logos, such as Audi, Tag Heuer. It also helps if the logo is aspirational in nature, such as Rolls Royce.
Some people are fans of a brand (Apple, for example) and may have no issues showing off this brand on their clothing. Sometimes, customers may also sport logos of institutions or events if it becomes popular like Olympics, FIFA World Cup.