India’s retail story is rather vivid with only 8 per cent of population raking up as much as 60 per cent of total apparel consumption. However, if you ask industry experts, they see a lot of scope as the marketplace has not seen a saturation and even people living in smallest of towns have aspiration to dress better now. Mohit Dhanjal, Director (Retail), Raymond, believes that it is not the Tier 1, 2 or even 3 cities, but in fact smaller towns that have left everyone surprised with their desire for more. He quips, “Money was always there, now there is aspiration to dress better and to have more options”. This is why Raymond is eyeing massive expansion plans in the next two years. Currently, Raymond is present in 400 towns, but recent census reports have jolted the brand to reality that it could survive in another 800 towns which have mostly been untouched so far by the brand. Mohit further adds, “We are at the cusp of revolutionary change. Economic prosperity has to flow down to people. As long as smaller towns continue to grow and we continue driving economic prosperity through the population pyramid, things would keep going. I am extremely positive about India’s retail story.”
“A man who is looking forward to a special occasion like a first interview or first office meeting, or a wedding, Raymond is his choice. We are working on strengthening the brand to make it available to new age groups, to make it more relevant to millennials.”
Pricing vs Quality
In a price-sensitive nation like India, pricing of a product can be a tricky thing. How does Raymond reason out pricing vs quality, considering the brand is an aspirational one? “At the heart of it, Indians are value seekers. If someone is paying Rs. 2000 for a shirt, he would want the thing to last longer. Quality is at the heart of whatever we do. It is our strength. We wouldn’t compromise quality for price. We want people to come back,” adds Mohit.
The industry is plagued by cotton price hike right now. In such times, Raymond has although hiked the prices by 3 to 4 per cent, the brand however is sharing the cost with the consumers. “We are always looking for an opportunity to leverage the cost,” clarifies Mohit.
The ghost of online shopping
With insane amount of shopping being done online, there is a widespread perception that it might result in the end of brick and mortar stores. There is a façade that claims that the day is not far when more and more people would embrace online shopping and the convenience that comes with it, to shun the idea of going to the physical stores. However, it seems that although the façade might be daunting, it is not a real threat to the physical stores, at least not for a long time to come in India. According to Mohit, if anything, online stores have paved way to more consumption. And if you look at the bigger picture, growing consumption is a good idea because it hints at a prospering economy.
“Raymond is classy, it’s premium to luxury. Park Avenue is premium but not luxury. Parx is edgy and is meant for youth. Colorplus is casual and for mature category. I want new consumers but don’t want old ones to drop out. We are sharpening each brand’s architecture.”
From availability point of view, Raymond is available on all major ecommerce players including Myntra, Flipkart, Snapdeal, and even Paytm. However, surprising it may sound, the brand is not driving any revenue out of online sales; thanks to Indian model of ecommerce which thrives on discounted prices and fast fashion variety. To take online experience a step ahead, Raymond is now working on omnichannel. Mohit adds, “We have a huge retail presence. We are working on omnichannel where if someone places order online, the product will be picked up from the nearest physical store and delivered to him. Physical stores are definitely going to stay. Fabric is hardly sold online. People want a touch and feel of it. Their biggest challenge is finding a tailor. At Raymond, we are known for fine fabric and remarkable tailoring.”
Tapping the buzzword -Millennials
With International brands offering unsurmountable amounts of fast fashion styles and millennials hooked to these brands, does it pose a threat to traditional brands like Raymond to change their game and look for innovative styles and marketing gimmicks to attract the on-the-go Gen Z? Explains Mohit, “Raymond stands for the complete man. However, it is important to understand that the man is changing now. And what’s more important is to understand where this dynamic man is hanging out. These days, after a certain age, we stop ageing mentally. No more a man of 35 dresses like a 35-year-old. So, our portfolio of brands keeps up with the changing looks that the man of today takes to.”
With an array of brands under its wings including Colorplus, Park Avenue and Parx, Raymond has something for every man. Plus, the biggest strength of a brand lies in its core, which for Raymond is Fabric. Thus, to remain at the top of their game, Raymond keeps bringing in new fabrics; latest one being Techno Smart fabric which with its features like wrinkle free, UV Repellent, odourless, and stain and water repellent has caught the eye of millennials very well. The brand also gave nationalist fabric- Khadi a revamped look by launching Raymond Khadi, which is not only sustainable but is also stylish and comes in various prints. Mohit elaborates, “Khadi stands for nationalism, Raymond Khadi stands for fashion. We source Khadi from handloom clusters and treat and finish the fabric and style it. We want to build relevance of this category. Raymond Khadi is very different, it is stylish, and has different prints.” If that is not enough, the brand has also tapped ethnics’ market with its ceremonial range of traditional wear, comprising of sherwanis, kurta pajama, Nehru jackets etc., featuring various textures and embroideries. The brand is moving from product centric approach to offering complete wardrobe solutions that include shoes and handbags too.
“From availability point of view, Raymond is available on all major ecommerce players. But, the brand is not driving any revenue out of online sales.”
AI is the way ahead
While all major International brands are taking to AI in a big way, Indian brands are still not very enthusiastic when it comes to incorporating technology in their way of working. Many brands are still worried about sustaining in this super competitive market without realising that technology is only going to lend a helping hand in sustainability, more so in their expansion process. Raymond realises the same and has been weaving AI smartly in its operations. Mohit explains, “2 years ago, we completely revamped loyalty programs. We have an online network where about 5 million consumers have signed up from Raymond stores flanked across the country. We capture their emails, phone numbers, birthdate etc. which then gets linked to their social media accounts. This gives us an idea of what their choices are, where they like to shop, how they spend their time etc. We then create virtual profiles of people and classify them into categories depending upon their backgrounds and commonalities they might have. So, next time when we come up with a new product, this data would really come in handy to understand the psyche of the consumers and how much they would be willing to spend on that particular product.”
The brand opened a hundred stores last year. In the next two years, the brand wants to open 300 more stores. “A Raymond shop is usually spread across 2500 sq. ft.; we revamped the store format last year. Now we have 800 sq. ft. stores while Investment is less than 50 lakhs. It is the smaller towns that are showing more potential because people have time on their hands and want to go in for stitching over readymade garments for most ceremonies. Most purchases are planned, which take time. It is not impulsive,” concluded Mohit.
With the brand hurling ever new and ever more varieties in apparels at the buyers, and with retail scene in India looking rather impressive despite of transitional market challenges, Raymond is well on its way to capture an even bigger market share, comprising of millennials and the grown-up men alike. After all, every man aspires to be THE COMPLETE MAN!