Sunday, September 19, 2010

Creating categories – Way forward for successful Retailing

Looking at the eagerness of a family to see how a Compact Disc works was amazing – this was in the year 2001 at the Musicworld store at Park Street in Kolkata. The middle-class Bengali family was a regular at the then largest MW Store in India, spread all of 8,000 sft and among the first Retail Stores in India to be designed in bright yellow and blue by Fitch PLC. After all, RPG Management had wanted none other than among the best in the world to design their first and the largest music store in the city. Over to the family – they were wondering how a small CD with a diameter of 10 cm could play music with such clarity while the erstwhile vinyl records that used to be played on the gramophones were thicker, heavier and the voice clarity not as clear as this one. I remember chatting with my colleagues about this insight – that it is as much the responsibility of Retailers to create newer categories to grow the pie and what I was referring in this case was that the market needed more CD players, affordable and better quality, so more consumers could buy them and in times to come, would buy or should I say invest on CDs. Who would know that 10 years later not only my words would come true (in terms of cheaper options of CD players) but we would also have alternate forms of listening to music – internet, mobile phones, mp3 players, iPods and most recently I read Apple is planning to launch Watches!


Successful Retailers worldwide have created newer categories and introduced them to their core customers – usually first timers within the spectrum who could spread the good word around. Central Malls, a division of The Future Group that operates over a dozen malls in India has been the pioneer in seamless retailing in the country since their launch of Bangalore Central in 2004 (of which I was lucky to be an integral part of) is doing exactly the same. One of their recent campaigns is the “Kurti Festival”. Keeping the most popular trend, Central has launched a festival that focuses on the theme – Kurtis. As part of this festival, Central will have a mix and match section where customers could experience interesting pairing which would be displayed at the Malls. Kurti is a form of apparel – a mix of western-styled Indian-design tops mainly focussed on women. The basic difference between a Kurti and a Salwar or Churidhar is that the length in the former is shorter and the core audience are the teens and tweens (those in their twenties). While the Kurtis have been made popular thanks to our beautiful heroines in Bollywood and other Indian languages, the more popular ambassadors are the customers themselves. It’s quite common to see the college goers wearing such clothing as it is comfortable for their daily routine – travelling by public transport, self-drive in two-wheelers, attending many other chores during the day such as college sessions and mall-hopping, etc. A versatile garment, kurtis are an essential part of every woman’s wardrobe and they can create the latest fashion statement with funky styles like bohemian, bling, graphic, festive, floral, tribal, jig saw & many more. Women shoppers can create these styles by mixing and matching with different bottoms like leggings, capris, denims, shorts, short skirts and harem pants. Customers can twist their style at Central’s Kurti festival for a brand new fashion statement.

This is expected to attract more footfalls into their Malls and while the incremental conversions are high single-digit, the time spent by the clientele and their word-of mouth is as important. Many a time, these festivals indeed pull in additional footfalls and benefit other retailers within the Mall such as Cafe Coffee Day, McDonalds, Food Courts, etc. While many retailers keep experimenting with such ideas, very few succeed in pulling them off well and needless to say, Central Malls is one of them indeed. So, visit the near Central close to your and enjoy the surprises!


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