Puma claims second spot in shoe sweepstakes

Our Bureau Bangalore | Updated on November 20, 2017

Mr Martyn Bowen, Regional General Manager, Puma, India.

While sports lifestyle brand Puma is ecstatic about grabbing the number two spot in India, after Reebok , it is also wary about Nike making a strong comeback.

“Nike did a fantastic job in the World Cup (with its Bleed Blue campaign). It will come back hard,” says Mr Martyn Bowen, Regional General Manager, Puma, India. Puma started out in India in 2006, much later than its competitors. Reebok came in 1995, while Nike entered India in 2004. In five years, Puma claims to have captured the number two spot in turnover terms. (While most international brands do not break out region-wise numbers, Reebok's turnover in India is said to be over Rs 1,400 crore).

Mr Bowen attributes Puma's success in the Indian market to two things – creating desirability in a market which is quality conscious and building a young team to manage the brand.

“India is perceived as a low-price market. That is wrong. The Indian consumer is as quality conscious as the consumer is in the rest of the world. Sure, Indians are price savvy; they value their money and will buy a product only if it is value for money. But that doesn't mean they buy cheap.

“Today, aspirational India does not want to be seen buying from a discount store. They want premium quality and that naturally comes at a premium price. Puma, which is priced 10 per cent more than competition, feeds into that aspiration of Indian consumers. Indian consumers want variety and novelty frequently, which Puma gives.”

Puma also has a very young team in India. Its Managing Director, Mr Rajiv Mehta, was 27 years old when he was appointed. It also has a young sales director and finance director – under the age of 30. “We believe in investing in young, intelligent and dynamic people,” says Mr Bowen.

The emerging markets today account for 10 per cent of Puma's total turnover. This has the potential to double, says Mr Bowen, who is especially gung-ho about India's prospects.

The decision to concentrate in India was not taken based on numbers or statistics, but sheer gut feeling. “When I visited India five years ago, I saw thousands of people playing cricket on a Sunday morning. That is when I sensed a huge opportunity here.”

Any conversation with an Englishman cannot steer away from cricket for long. Incidentally, Puma is associated with two IPL teams – Rajasthan Royals and Deccan Charges.

With the World Cup just over, does Puma sense fatigue among fans? “No. The audience for 20-20 is different from that for the 50-over game. Last year, our IPL-related merchandise met with good response and we had very little stock left. This year too we expect the same,” signs off Mr Bowen.

Published on April 11, 2011

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