Puma shifts marketing focus from lifestyle to performance; cuts spend by 30 per cent

MUMBAI: Sports lifestyle brand Puma India is shifting its marketing focus from lifestyle to performance this year. It has launched ‘The Nature of Performance’ campaign. This is to push new products that have been launched in the performance portfolio in the running, training, fitness, cricket and football categories.

One new product launched is the Mobium Elite shoe in the category of performance running. There will a bigger focus on digital marketing this year. Also marketing spends for the year will be cut by 30 per cent. But Puma India MD Rajiv Mehta says that this is not due to the economic slowdown but because the company realised that it did not need to spend so much money.

“We realised that we could make do with less. We used to partner with two IPL teams but we have now discontinued that association. We are associated with Sunrisers Hyderabad as a kit supplier. We do not pay a fee. The challenge we faced was that the IPL is just a 45 day activity. After that it becomes difficult to sell merchandise. Unsold inventory became an issue. That is because team loyalties are not yet sufficiently present. Also Puma wanted to spend more money on marketing activities in other countries. We are focussing more on digital marketing this year and outdoor."

As far as the shift in focus to performance is concerned Mehta says that when the company came to India it focused on lifestyle to beat the traditional competitors. “We turned profitable in the third year of operating in India. Now that we have gained good lifestyle share we are focusing on performance to compete better with Nike, Adidas and Reebok. People are moving to a performance lifestyle from casual attire. That is why we decided that this is the year where we will focus on our performance umbrella. The ‘performance‘ tag cuts across all sports whether it is cricket, soccer, motorsports”

Puma‘s Nature of Performance platform is a red thread that unifies all of the company’s performance categories with a consistent voice, look and feel. Grounded in nature and the athlete‘s innate desire to perform at their best level, The Nature of Performance aims to take consumers on a journey that is at once personal and universal.

Created in collaboration with advertising partner Droga5, the Nature of Performance campaign, for above the line and below the line, features the product as a hero in each treatment, with a minimalist deconstructed "set" using a simple gray background, exposed staging and technical features, and athletes in motion showcasing the ‘epic moment‘ of athletics. Stylistically new for the company, the Nature of Performance creative is designed to evoke a visceral reaction and tap into the consumers’ nature as performance athletes.

Mehta adds that 20 per cent of the companies marketing budget is for above the line. The remaining is spent below the line. “In digital we have taken over the Youtube homepage. Tomorrow we are taking over Yahoo!s homepage. These are the kinds of innovations we will be doing this year. You will be able to see an AV. Around half of our above the line spends this year will be in digital. Serious runners spend a lot of time online. So we need to connect with them there. On our own site we have information. We also create content through blogs. We are also doing outdoor activities in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore. In terms of below the line experiential marketing is crucial for us. So we have tied up with gyms and running clubs.”

An innovation that the company is doing is augmented reality. In a store if you point a smartphone at the shoe you will see click a 3D image.

In terms of pushing its lifestyle portfolio Puma will continue to be associated with Bollywood films. In the past it has tied up with films like ‘Student of the Year’ and ‘ABCD’.

“We are talking to a few productions to have our products featured in the film. Bollywood works better for us compared to cricket as it has a longer shelf life. Once a film finishes its theatrical run it will be aired on a channel like Max, Colors. The issue with cricket is that it alienates women and children for the most part. That is a key segment for our lifestyle portfolio”. He however adds that company will continue its association with Yuvraj Singh who is one of its brand ambassadors.

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