The cowboy attitude resorted to by some retailers in the year gone by, may not be the best strategy to adopt in present times. ‘Cowboy attitude’ here signifies the agressive and sometimes mindless acquisition of space; the ‘go and shop at any cost’ stance applied by some retailers in a mistaken conception of expansion. In today’s economic scenario, retailers need to adapt a more cautious approach and be measured in their aggression. The decision to expand or acquire outlets should be taken on the basis of a studied market viability in terms of affluency levels of the expected target customer, location, rentals etc. All these parameters should be taken into consideration before signing on the dotted line, according to Shailesh Chaturvedi, CEO, Tommy Hilfiger Apparel India.
Speaking on ‘Retailing challenges in times of economic slowdown’, the panel discussion organised by Birla Institute of Management Technology (BIMTECH), Chaturvedi further revealed that, though consumption has considerably slowed down in big cities like Delhi and Mumbai due to the overall global economic slowdown, B-grade cities like Ahmedabad, Amritshar, Patiala and Jaipur are still giving expected returns to his brand.
Elaborating on his brand’s prospects in the Indian market, Chaturvedi said, “We are a very small and niche, exclusive price-bound kind of brand, catering to a very well-to-do consumer set. In the last 2-3 years, there has been a considerable upgradation in consumption standards among Indian consumers and Tommy Hilfiger managed to establish itself and has also grown extremely well during the period. As a result, in this current phase of slowdown, our brand is not really affected, because when someone get used to a good thing, it is very tough to downgrade.”
He stated that due to credit growth, increased salary, availability of job options and GDP growth, people have a lot of choices nowadays and they are getting more confident and accordingly upgrading their consumption. So, according to him, the right strategy to adopt would be to emphasize on customer service and customer centric selling to build strong brand loyalties. The strategy to adopt would be to encourage more customers to buy more often rather than only focus on certain big spending customers splurging during specific periods linked to festivals. This according to him would lead to sustained sales levels as well as not pinch pockets. “We want every month as Diwali, that is the idea,” said Chaturvedi.
—Sarimul Islam Choudhury