FREECULTR, the online lifestyle retailer, is growing on the fastrack. Neha Malhotra caught up with Sujal Shah, CEO, FREECULTR who shared the brand’s philosophy and expansion plans.
Neha Malhotra (NM): Can you brief us about FREECULTR and its growth since the launch?
Sujal Shah (SS): FREECULTR originated from seeing a clear gap in the Indian retail marketplace for premium basics, a concept that is well known and successful in the Western markets. FREECULTR bridges that gap and leverages the best of Indian production capability with the aesthetic and brand focus of the West.
We are currently only six months into live operation, so very young in terms of building a brand and a retail offering. However, we are growing at a strong clip and our exposure spans across India from day one. Our strength in orders and revenue trajectory, even in that small amount of time we have been in business, has been significant enough to garner a strong secondary investment which poises FREECULTR to grow even faster over the coming years.
NM: What is the USP of the brand?
SS: Choice, colour, fits, styles, design, fabrics, quality and aspiration is what the brand is all about. FREECULTR focuses on a category called ‘Premium Basics’ which is better known and represented in the West. FREECULTR is developing a continuously growing portfolio to cater to a full lifestyle choice that rivals major brands from the west.
NM: Who is the targeted clientele? What different steps are you taking to reach out to them?
SS: In Premium Basics, the target clientele is of a much broader age range that spans from 18-45 years. The ‘meat’ of our clientele is probably 22-30 at this point, but we believe that the youth will be the largest drivers of growth for our business as they are more active online, most interested in aspirational brands, and will grow with our brand over time. We have a lot of social media integration on our site as well as our presence in specific youth targeted portals. In a few months time, we have crossed the 150,000 fan mark on our Facebook page, and are growing every day. We have also activated Twitter, Pinterest, and more. Social media is a great way to have a conversation with our youth and other consumer groups, and is the way forward for any online retailer.
NM: What marketing initiatives have been made for FREECULTR?
SS: Building a brand requires a strong investment in marketing - marketing to communicate your brand values, aspiration, and products. FREECULTR is actively using social media and other non paid channels to build the grass roots following for our brand. At the same time, it is necessary to effectively target and use online paid channels to expose our brand to the relevant client base. In addition, building a brand is all about relevancy and perception supported by tangible value and great product. Innovative partnerships that provide scale are also ways in which we execute marketing initiatives.
NM: Are there any new product categories being added to your portfolio?
SS: We are adding new products and categories every few weeks. We plan to go into the full lifestyle range of products for men, women, and kids over the coming year. While we have a large amount of product available for men, we have had a strong commitment to women from day one, unlike many new brands, and plan to grow this area even more with dresses, skirts, shoes, accessories, and the like. We must maintain our focus on quality offerings as this is a key differentiator and USP for us. We already carry about 40 categories across men and women and this should grow significantly in the coming six months.
NM: What are your future plans?
SS: We are extremely humbled and thankful for the exponential trajectory that we are on at the moment. We will continue to focus on our products and our range, while we penetrate further into the online consumer space in India. We will explore other online channels in MBOs as well as interesting offline opportunities that make sense for us and our customers. We are also privileged to be courted by a number of interesting international queries, let’s see where they go.