#BrandSaga: From reliable school shoes to Surprisingly Bata – The great brand evolution

Bata advertising journey
Brand Saga

Bata’s journey in India began in the 1930s and by 1970s, the company went public. Over time it has evolved to stay in tune with the times, consumers, and the market. The brand has consistently evolved with the changing times, giving birth to an exuberant Bata advertising journey.

One of the back to school rituals in every household was going to Bata for purchasing a bright shiny pair of black school shoes and white converse for the PT day (which we would further whiten in the days to come by rubbing chalk on it). From the reliable school shoes and padded slippers for the elder to now fashionable and “surprisingly Bata” – the Bata advertising journey has been somewhat legendary.

It all began in January 1934 when the foundation of Bata India was laid in Calcutta. In the years that followed, the shoe brand’s birth township would come to be known as Batanagar.

Endorsing utility

Bata’s marketing strategy has been a topic of marketing case studies in many MBA schools. The brand’s utility products, pocket friendly-pricing, and mass distribution strategy helped Bata establish brand value and personality.

The initial advertisements of Bata focussed on utility at their core. Though fashion also made appearances here and there, the use also triumphed. Different print advertisements came to fore for different target groups, primarily men, women, children and youth.

Though there isn’t enough documentation online to check for TV spot ads, there is a Pinterest page that has put various old ads, according to countries. In India, the ads were simple, often showed prices and had a strong push towards design. This was the time the brand was attempting to enter lives. This continued for the few initial decades of the brand’s existence.

At the turn of the century and a decade hence, large format stores made an appearance in metro areas with bigger space and focus on higher-end products. In towns and other cities, smaller stores and multi-brand footwear dealers were the targets. Over the years, Bata has shifted its focus to expanding its network of large-format stores with the help of relocation as this helps them is showcasing collections better.

Since the early 2000s, Bata India has been focussing on catering to the youth, capturing their imagination with affordable products. It led to a revamp in their branding where they roped in Kriti Sanon and Sushant Singh Rajput in 2018. It was evident in the communication that they wanted people to be surprised as to how the brand has evolved over time.

Hush Puppies and more

Bata India got Hush Puppies to India in the early 2010s. It was one of the turning points in terms of expanding the collections on offer. Subsequently, other brands have also come on board. Such partnerships have helped Bata India offer high-end products to customers. From specialised sports shoes to strappy sandals and kids footwear, this is where Bata India has added a pinch of glamour as well as functionality to their products on offer.

With this new range of products, came in a new tone in the brand’s communication. Bata began channeling their global communication tone in India too.

Women Centric marketing

Around 2014, fashion prominently entered the brand’s communication and USP. This was coupled with their focus on talking to modern, urban women. This has continued to be true until 2019. Through campaigns like #ComfortableWithIt, #FindYourPower and #Bata9to9, Bata has concentrated on joining the conversation around feminism and women empowerment. With this, they seem to be trying to capture the imagination of urban, mobile women. For this, they roped in influencers, including Smriti Mandhana and Manushi Chhillar.

Monsoon and men

Bata India’s Monsoon and Men’s collections are two constant verticals that have existed since the brand came into being. Throughout the 2010s, there have been efforts to add a splash of glamour to these collections with the help of new designs, influencers and celebrities. The focus has been very prominent on offering new designs to customers, creating strong rhetoric of how the brand has been changing with time, in sync with fashion trends.

The digital age

Much like all fashion apparel and footwear brands, Bata India has started naming all its recent campaigns around hashtags. These campaigns are then used to populate the brand’s social media presence on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Along with creatives around campaigns, discounts are pushed out via social media posts frequently. Collaborations can be seen popping out the feeds, like the recent one with Coca Cola, #BataXCocaCola.

Comfort and happiness never go out of fashion! #BataXCocaCola now available at your nearest Bata store. Spread the love.

Posted by Bata on Sunday, 28 April 2019

Most of the posts are duplicated across the platforms. One of the plus points for Bata India online is that they are able to push school shoes and other staple products here in between the massive campaigns they run for fashion-first collections. Festival collections are also pushed out via these channels. Special discounts for Bata Club members are also regularly announced here.

Rebranding efforts

In 2018, Bata India concentrated their efforts massively into making people realise that they are a brand to check out when it comes to fashionable footwear. This was a massive campaign where Kriti Sanon and Sushant Singh Rajput were roped in to create awareness and bewilderment around the rebranding efforts. #ComeAndBeSurprised and #SurprisinglyBata were used for this campaign to promote the newly launched Red Label collection.

According to official figures, Bata India sells 48 million pairs of footwear every year and serves to over 1,20,000 customers almost every day. Over the years, the brand has put in efforts to change its image from a brand that sells school shoes and shoes for everyone in the family to one that can be trusted for fashionable footwear.

The Journey

Bata announced a reported growth of 16% in net sales at Rs 7,787 million for the third quarter ended December 2018. The brand said it was backed by consumer campaigns, festive sales and retail expansion. The company’s retail network has over 1400 stores.

Bata India stores house footwear, accessories, and bags across brands like Hush Puppies, Naturalizer, Power, Marie Claire, Weinbrenner, North Star, Scholl, Bata Comfit and Bubblegummers.


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