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Metro Shoes repositions itself to cater to youth

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MUMBAI: There was a time when people were happy to own a pair or two of shoes, at the most three. Not any more...

With fierce competition among domestic footwear retailers and newer international footwear brands setting shop in the country, not to mention a heightened sense of brand consciousness, customers today are having a field day in terms of the sheer number and variety of shoes available in the market.

So much so, Metro, one of India’s oldest footwear brands, conducted research and found that a majority of its loyalists were 30+ year olds. In a bid to increase its target audience and stay ahead of the competition, Metro has now repositioned itself to provide ‘Shoes for a new race’. The brand believes that with changing times, it needs to change in order to stay relevant to its target audience.

Says Metro Shoes MD and CEO Malik Bhanji: “Since India is a young country, it is imperative that the new positioning of Metro Shoes resonates with the attitude of the youth. The new race doesn’t necessarily believe in following age-old norms; they believe in creating their own. To build a connect with this consumer, we have launched a campaign that twists conventional ideologies, giving them a new meaning.”

Adds Metro Shoes marketing manager Lavina Rodrigues Pinto: “Through our research, we found out that our loyalists are 30+ olds but we wanted to increase our TG. Hence, we thought of repositioning ourselves to be more relevant to today’s youth.”

The refresh isn’t just about a new brand philosophy. Metro has tweaked its product mix to match the attitude and spunk of the younger generation it caters to. “Youngters aren’t scared of experimenting and hence, we have used bold and contemporary designs,” elaborates Pinto.

A budget of Rs 20 crore has been assigned to the repositioning exercise and a 360-degree marketing plan has been launched with outdoor as the main focus for shoe retails.

However, two celebrities who’ve been closely associated with Metro thus far – actors Kareena Kapoor and Saif Ali Khan - won’t be the faces of this campaign. Asked why, Pinto clarifies: “Earlier, even though we were a 100+ store chain in the country, people saw us as a neighbourhood store. Hence, we needed to reach out more and give the brand a pan-national feel. In three years, these two actors helped us achieve that, and now we want to move on and make the youth the face of our brand.”

Coming to international brands, although Metro sees competition in companies such as Nine West and Charles & Keith, the brand believes these have only helped Indian brands become more customer-friendly.

Citing the example of how well Fastrack (Indian watches brand) has done, Pinto says: “Yes, today’s generation is more exposed to international brands but if an Indian brand too has an aspirational value attached to it, then there is nothing to worry.”

“Also, we mustn’t forget that even today, fashion is very regionally sensitive in India. For example, we sell more heels in Chandigarh while more flats are sold in Chennai. As an Indian brand, we have an advantage to understand this, unlike the international counterparts,” she adds.

Metro’s expansion plans are very much on track with 16 stores opened this year and plans to open another 20 across the country. The brand also plans to be more aggressive in the e-commerce sector. “We had an online site four years ago but weren’t very aggressive on it but now, as more and more people are getting comfortable with the medium, we will be going the whole hog,” rounds off Pinto.

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