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Will 2Bme b the brand 4 U?

By Avishek Rakshit
Last updated on: September 30, 2018 10:30 IST
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Shashwat Goenka of the RP-Sanjiv Goenka group plans a high-decibel campaign around its young apparel brand 2Bme.

Photograph: Courtesy @2Bme/Twitter.

The group, which is invested in power, natural resources, carbon black, IT, education, infrastructure, retail, entertainment, media (via Open magazine) with assets Rs 40,355 crores (according to its site statistics) is making a bid to enter the $100 billion plus Indian textiles and apparel market with their trendy brand 2Bme. Photograph: Courtesy @2Bme/Twitter.

A year and a half after its launch, the RP-Sanjiv Goenka-group-owned 2Bme line of apparel is stepping out of its in-house incubator at Spencer’s Retail, hoping to build a national footprint for itself. 

Ranbir Kapoor and Shraddha Kapoor

The star endorsers for 2Bme are actors Ranbir Kapoor and Shraddha Kapoor. Their ambassadorship, the promoters hope, will raise consumer expectations.

To facilitate its journey on to a bigger stage, the Rs 190 billion group has roped in Bollywood stars Ranbir Kapoor and Shraddha Kapoor as brand ambassadors and is rolling out a slew of exclusive brand outlets. Experts point out, while the stars will draw the brand the attention it seeks, the real challenge is establishing a private label as a credible contender amidst the clutter of apparel brands in the market today.

Photograph: Courtesy @2Bme/Twitter.

The group with their offering of 2Bme will join a domestic turf presently dominated by Trent's Westside, Reliance, Fab India and the Future Group. Photograph: Courtesy @2Bme/Twitter.

Shashwat Goenka, head of the retail sector at RP-Sanjiv Goenka group, who is spearheading the initiative, says that the two stars, despite being star kids, have been able to carve out their space on their own merit. This is the positioning he seeks for 2Bme too, as the brand steps out of Spencer’s umbrella.

Photograph: Courtesy @2Bme/Twitter.

Goenka's 2Bme will be entering a retail landscape where traditional mom and pop independent stores still dominate, according to industry insiders. India has some 18 million outlets across 5,500 towns and about 600,000 villages as per statistics from Technopark, a leading Indian management consulting firm on the industry. Photograph: Courtesy @2Bme/Twitter.

Goenka has planned a high-decibel campaign around the brand and is looking at 10 to 12 exclusive brand outlets in the next 12 months across 5 to 6 cities.

“We have finalised some deals with some malls and are in talks with some more for such brand stores. Each of these stores will have an area of 1,000 to 3,000 square feet and will house western wear for men and women,” he said. The brand will continue to retail at Spencer’s too.

Photograph: Courtesy @2Bme/Twitter.

But the Indian domestic apparel should have a place reserved for new brands like 2Bme given that the retail market, especially the fashion segment has benefited from the year on year increase of retail spending by Indians and a steady rise in both Indian and international brands as per Technopak research. Photograph: Courtesy @2Bme/Twitter.

He declined to name the cities, but these will likely be centres where Spencer’s is already present so that the exclusive stores can draw their supplies from the three warehouses near Gurgaon, Kolkata and Hyderabad. A pilot store is currently operational at a group-owned luxury mall in Kolkata.
Despite the growing influence of online platforms on apparel purchases, Goenka says he does not want to push sales via the digital space yet.

Shashwat Goenka. Photograph: Courtesy @FollowCII/Twitter

Shashwat Goenka, the Wharton-schooled scion of the RP-Sanjiv Goenka group and the head of Spencer’s Retail Limited, who has worked in several sectors in the group, is spearheading the campaign to have 2Bme spread its wings. Photograph: Courtesy @FollowCII/Twitter.

“We don’t want 2Bme to be looked upon as a discount brand. We will offer discounts as per industry standards like end-of-season sale and festive offers, but we cannot have dual pricing -- one for the store and another for online. In e-commerce, as far as apparel is concerned, it is primarily driven by discounts,” he reasoned.

Photograph: Courtesy @2Bme/Twitter.

Till now 2Bme has been semi-test marketed across 18 months in the group's Spencer's stores. Photograph: Courtesy @2Bme/Twitter.

Sandeep Goyal, founder-promoter of the Mogae Group, sees the logic of bringing star endorsers on board for a brand that is looking to make a mark on the public consciousness, but that could also be its undoing he says. Endorsements can get 2Bme the crowd it wants, but the product will be judged on its range, pricing, availability and quality once outside the shadow of Spencer’s.

“When celebrities start endorsing brands, consumer expectations rise. If a first-time buyer has a bad experience with a brand, it will leave a permanent bad impression and then no celebrity endorsement will be of any help,” he says.

Photograph: Courtesy @2Bme/Twitter.

The success of international brands like H&M and Zara has shown that the market is ready for all kinds of Western wear even like what 2Bme is offering (above). Photograph: Courtesy @2Bme/Twitter.

Brand experts across the board were also sceptical of the EBO format, while it helps create an “exclusive space” for the label, the challenge lies in pulling people into the store. Goyal adds that an EBO model has a higher chance of success when it features an already established or known brand.

Photograph: Courtesy @2Bme/Twitter.

Goenka expects the brand to hit above Rs 3 billion in sales in the next 3 to 4 years. Photograph: Courtesy @2Bme/Twitter.

Harish Bijoor, CEO at brand strategy firm, Bijoor Consults poses a different problem. Why would a consumer buy a brand associated with Spencer’s outside the store’s confines? He believes that the group would have done better if it had come up with a separate brand altogether for its EBO format.

“Departmental or supermarket brands have a low imagery. Owing to the celebrity endorsement, brand awareness will definitely come, but what happens beyond that is what time will tell,” he says.

Photograph: Courtesy @2Bme/Twitter.

The men's segment of the Indian fashion market is much higher than the women's portion and may even out by 2022 says Technopak research. But that may be set to change. Photograph: Courtesy @2Bme/Twitter.

Goenka says he is aware of these challenges. But he does not see these to be insurmountable hurdles for the brand. Even within Spencer’s,  the brand operated within a shop-in-shop concept that differentiated it from being just another in-store brand. Plus, the store ensures that 30 per cent of the merchandise is changed every month. Also the group has an in-house team of nine designers that collaborates with a set of international designers to keep the designs fresh and relevant.

Photograph: Courtesy @2Bme/Twitter.

2Bme is looking at Western wear and not traditional clothing perhaps because 65 per cent of India's population is below 35. Photograph: Courtesy @2Bme/Twitter.

Goenka expects the brand to hit above Rs 3 billion in sales in the next 3 to 4 years. Currently, it is a Rs 1 billion brand, he claims. At a later stage, the RP-SG Group may consider putting up its 2Bme line of apparel in multi-brand outlets, large-format retail and e-commerce platforms.

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Avishek Rakshit in Kolkata
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