Liberty, a brand which is synonym for comfort, has brought a range of cool, fashionable and lifestyle footwear in a mission to reach to a younger, aspirant population of India and abroad. In an exclusive conversation,
Anupam Bansal, Director-Retail and
Raman Bansal , Director-Sales, Liberty speak about the factors that triggered the brand to be in sync with the changing consumer needs.
What was the rationale for you to revamp your product portfolio?
As a brand, we needed to change as per the consumer preference. For example, ten years back, we wanted very basic black shoes. Even if we were offered a red shoe, we used to say-who will wear this. But look at the trend today. Now, people will say, I have too many black, can I have a yellow, red, blue shoe etc. This is a very clear preference change in the market and Liberty is working to be in sync with the market. So, the rationale was completely consumer driven.
Secondly, our country is becoming younger, as 65 per cent of the population is going to be young population only, by 2020, so it is obvious to focus on the area where the 80 per cent of the disposable income is coming from. The middle-class is growing too. Hence, it is understandable to be in sync with those demands.
Media influence and opening of the economy are also other contributing factors. Although 85 per cent of the market share is unorganised, but with entrance of many foreign brands and exposure to media, the aspiration level of majority of population is building up, which inspires Indian companies to match up to the aspiration. These are the triggers that make us to be more fashion inclined. It is not like that we were not a fashion brand earlier, rather, the demand of the country was not that fashion-driven.
How much emphasis are you putting on your accessory segment?
Ten years back, we were not focusing much on accessory. However, today, it contributes 6-7 per cent of the business and there is a plan of adding new categories in the accessory segment as well. We have all kinds of men’s bags, belts, accessories, clutches etc and we are trying to experiment
with other categories like socks, shoe-care products too. Our intention is to generate10 per cent revenue from this segment, taking it from the existing
6-7 per cent.
Do you feel eCommerce is important?
I feel that brick-and-mortar and eCommerce should go hand in hand. We also don’t want to fall prey to fly-by-night operators who are coming and giving discounts because at the end, the brand would suffer. As a brand, we can’t afford to give that much discounts and we feel online will be supplementing our growth, unless we plan something very concrete on discount plans.
What are your changing focus areas?
So far, I feel comfort is still an important feature of our footwear and that’s how we say, fashion is comfort. Even today, if somebody feels the footwear is not comfortable but fashionable, people will not buy.
Would you like to rebrand yourselves?
We would like to remain a family footwear brand, as I don’t see that the market has matured to that level where we can move away from our family footwear brand positioning. But looking at the future prospect, where the consumers become more independent and do not think to be a part of the family, then there may be a chance of such re-positioning.
Having said that, under our umbrella brand, there are tens of brands, which can serve to the independent style demand of the people and I think that will take 5-10 years to reach to that stage. As of now, we would still position ourselves as family footwear brand and will keep nourishing our sub-brands like FootFun for Kids, Fortune for formals, and if need be, we will transform these brands as independent brands.
How do you see Tier II & III cities for expansion?
As far as Tier II & III cities are concerned, our substantial growth is coming from these cities.From business viability prospect, real estate in metro cities is very expensive and availability of the product in that specific area remains low, making it difficult. Tier II & III cities generate better ROI than metros.