Jockeys doubled athletic business during pandemic

New Delhi : As part of its marketing strategy, Page Industries Ltd., the exclusive licensee of the American brand Jockey, has increased its advertising spend after a brief hiatus. Last week, it launched a new campaign for its men’s premium inner-wear collection. Karthik Yatindra, Chief Marketing Officer, Jockey India, said in an interview that the company is back to spending 4-5% of its revenue on advertisements. He added that the athletic business of the brand gained traction during Covid. Edited excerpt:

What was the impact of the pandemic on your brands?

The influence was much greater on swimwear brand Speedo than on Jockey, for obvious reasons. Swimming pools were closed across the country for both professional and recreational swimming. As far as jockeys are concerned, we were one of those lucky organizations where the demand was, in fact, much stronger than usual. However, challenges on the supply side were largely due to social distancing within the manufacturing setup. But luckily for us, the demand was great during the two years.

In which category did you perform well?

Athleisure products such as trackpants, joggers, shorts, t-shirts and jackets were launched with our portfolio in 1995. About 7-8 years ago, we adopted athleisure as a key growth pillar and strengthened the portfolio. Very little. This came in handy when the pandemic hit, as there was a mass exodus from casual and formal wear to athleisure. So, timing worked out very well for us. Innerwear for men and women has also been in good demand, but athleisure has actually grown a lot more than we expected or planned. I would say, we jumped a year or two in terms of demand with athletics compared to the pre-pandemic days. We have literally doubled our business. Whereas, overall, as an organization, we saw a 37-38% jump in revenue in the last financial year.

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Have you noticed changes in online sales and are they persisting?

For an organization like ours, invested primarily in the offline space, online consumer acquisition was slow and costly before the pandemic. Due to Kovid-19, online channels have benefited us a lot. The entire business contributed about 2-3% pre-pandemic, jumped up to about 8%, and stalled. This means that we have acquired a lot of customers during COVID, who continue to shop with us.

What are your plans for physical expansion?

We operate through distributors and multi-brand outlets and have over 100,000 touch points. Right now we have around 1,200 specialty brand stores. We usually open 150-200 brand stores every year. This year also the plan is the same. We should close 1,300-1,350 exclusive brand stores by the end of the year.

How much does a jockey spend on advertising?

The annual budget for ads has always been 4-5% of our revenue and remains so. During the pandemic it was down a bit, mainly because we weren’t sure how business was going to go.

In terms of the media mix, the jockey has been a significant spender throughout media. Over the years, we’ve been a little bit quicker when it comes to targeting the consumer. The challenge we are trying to address is to create awareness for specific product offerings and in view of this, our investments in social digital marketing have increased.

Do you get your designs from American company? Aren’t they more functional than trendy?

Page Industries has end-to-end licenses ranging from product design, manufacturing, supply chain, distribution to marketing and retail.

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But there is a lot of cross learning and sharing between Jockey International and Page in terms of design and marketing. When it comes to fit and build, it is best developed locally as we understand Indian body types better. What is necessarily designed in the US or Europe may not fit the Indian body type, especially for innerwear as a category.

But are you following Indian fashion sense?

Absolutely. I believe that when it comes to not only fit, comfort, quality and durability, but also design and fashion, we are comparable with anyone in the Indian market. Of course, the ethos of the brand is such that we are not a fast-fashion brand.

And therefore, good quality and good fit on the body, takes the place of aesthetics and visual appeal. Not to say that the visual appeal is boring or fashionable, but there is a clear preference for how the product feels on you, not how the product looks on you.

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