As hybrid working becomes a norm, we anticipate rise in ‘work-leisure’ category: Karthik Yathindra

Karthik Yathindra

Karthik Yathindra, CMO, Jockey India talks about the trends seen in the retail space, especially as the new normal makes way for hybrid working models, their strategy to reach the youth, and the brand’s approach towards social media marketing.

As hybrid working becomes a norm, workleisure is a new trend that Karthik Yathindra – CMO, Jockey India. Yathindra tells Social Samosa that this year, the brand will be focussing on generating discoverability “with a focus on building awareness of sub-brands and product categories within the Jockey portfolio.”

In an in-depth conversation with us, Yathindra talks about the Jockey India marketing strategy, the changing industry paradigms, and their approach towards marketing spends.

The rise of Athleisure apparel was one of the biggest trends seen in the sector in the last two years – how did Jockey India cater to this trend? 

Athleisure has been a part of the Jockey portfolio right since its launch in India in 1995. Of course, the term ‘Athleisure’ didn’t exist back then, but the products we had were very much in this space. Over the last five years, we’ve elevated our athleisure offering making our portfolio strong in terms of functionality, comfort and styling. 

The rise of athleisure as a trend worked perfectly for us in terms of timing as our product portfolio was ready. We had to however cope with the change in demand mix between innerwear and athleisure during the pandemic. This wasn’t easy from a supply chain and manufacturing capacity point of view. But we believe we managed to capture a good part of the demand and recruit new consumers into the athleisure category. 

Now as offices open up, have you seen a drop or change in demand for the categories? What are some of the consumer trends seen in the segment? 

With the pandemic easing out and offices now open, we are seeing our innerwear categories showing a significant spike in demand. We attribute this to consumers refreshing their wardrobes after a long gap. Categories like vests and socks are back in play. 

However, we don’t see a drop in demand for athleisure. I believe we’ve recruited many new consumers to Jockey athleisure during the pandemic period and the wear experience of our products is bringing these consumers back to purchase more.

With hybrid working now becoming the norm, we anticipate the rise in ‘work-leisure’ as a category. We’ve launched a line of products in this space in the last year for both men and women, the response for which has been very promising. 

What does your marketing blueprint look like? Which medium receives the biggest pie of the budget? Are you investing in big-ticket avenues such as IPL?

The theme for the coming year for us is going to be discoverability with a focus on building awareness of sub-brands and product categories within the Jockey portfolio.

From a media mix perspective, BTL and instore activation will continue to see significant investments to support our large network of exclusive and multi-brand stores. In ATL, our investments would be between social, digital, OTT and Outdoor advertising. 

We continue to find the most relevant content-driven tools that address our consumers’ requirements and help them connect with the brand – be it through an event or an on-ground activation or a digital campaign.  

What kind of a role does digital and social media marketing play for Jockey India? What is your objective from these platforms? How much per cent of your total marketing budget is reserved for digital?

Social and digital media has always been an integral part of our media mix. About 8% to 10% of our media budgets have been invested in social media for the last 7 to 8 years now.

Our presence on social media was built as a community marketing effort to provide an opportunity for our followers to live and experience the brand. We have a healthy followership of over a million across the different social media platforms today. Our strategy continues to be to provide engaging content and have meaningful conversations.

In the last couple of years, we have also taken to this platform to reach potential consumers and drive traffic to our stores. These platforms give us the opportunity to micro-target consumers for specific products and also to showcase smaller categories that usually don’t get the spotlight in traditional mediums.

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Since the pandemic first struck, the importance of D2C commerce avenues has risen dramatically. What are some of the D2C avenues that you have in place? How do you drive footfalls to your website? 

While as a brand we are known for the might of our distribution network that has been built over the years which today extends over 1 lakh outlets across the country, we’ve made conscious efforts to find avenues to engage directly with consumers.

Today our D2C avenues include a 1100+ strong network of exclusive brand stores, our brand website jockey in and our marketplace presence in e-commerce.

Our teams are structured to treat each of these channels of sale as independent businesses to ensure there is a focus on all levers of growth – marketing, consumer experience, business expansion etc.    

Has social media been helpful in lead generation – which platform has been the most effective in this KPI?

For sure! As I mentioned, while our social media presence was built as a community marketing effort to engage with consumers, its role over the years has expanded to also include lead generation. We effectively manage this on all the social media platforms that we are present on – Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter and WhatsApp. 

Please take us through your content strategy – what kind of content hooks, formats, and tones have been the most effective in communicating with the audience?

Our content strategy continues to be quite conventional and fundamentally robust. Invariably, our content strategy starts with consumer understanding and insights to achieve a certain business or brand objective. In doing so, we ensure that the brand positioning and ethos are maintained in terms of language, tone and presentation. And as a final layer, we ask ourselves if the content we put out there is engaging and enjoyable. These are some of the boxes we need to tick before we publish any form of content.

While this approach has remained, we’ve evolved largely in the space of how the content is served and not what the content is about. We keep this in mind and design our aspect ratios, formats and duration accordingly while producing content.

Undergarments and intimate wear can still be a topic of awkwardness if not a taboo in the country. How does Jockey India overcome these challenges through its marketing & communication strategy?

In India, Jockey has pioneered the innerwear category both in terms of product and marketing communication. The brand unlike most other innerwear brands in the country is not positioned on machoism, lust or flaunt. This helps us craft communication for the category in a tasteful manner. We don’t see the category to be of any limitation for the kind of content we want to put out there. 

The millennial and GenZ generation are spoilt for choices with a number of international brands entering the marketing & even homegrown brands shaping up. How do you plan to stand out in this clutter? What is your marketing strategy for this demographic? 

A bulk of our target audience falls in the millennial and GenZ generation and you’re right, they are indeed spoilt for choice. However, I believe building a strong brand is not one dimensional but requires the coming together of several ingredients. We continue to be passionate about providing the best quality products to our consumers at affordable prices. That doesn’t change. 

As a brand, we have our consumers at the centre and plan our business around them. Everything we do on a daily basis, be it product, marketing, retail and distribution initiatives are to ensure that our consumers should have no reason to look beyond brand Jockey for their needs and wants.