Imagine a brand achieving a sale amounting to Rs 5 crore in just 12 hours from its launch. No, we are most certainly not making this up. This happened at Phoenix Marketcity, Bengaluru. The brand in discussion here is MI. How did sales hit this astounding number in such a short while? The credit goes to an out-of-the-box launch. The launch was such a success that it’s given inspiration to other brands, who are following suit, planning their own grand launch.
Gajendra Singh Rathore, Centre Director, Phoenix Marketcity Bengaluru says, “We achieved record breaking sales of Rs 5 crore in just 12 hours with 5,712 units sold on the day of the launch itself. Dedicated customers lined up in the courtyard from 8 AM onwards to purchase their MI gadgets and did not let the rain dampen their spirit! The store launch included a performance by a band – a great idea to entertain customers who had queued up, making their wait interesting, adding to the fun.”
The buzz was first created on social media where MI enthusiasts were informed about the brand’s first exclusive store launch at the mall.
Rathore reveals: “Phoenix Marketcity and Xiaomi jointly planned the launch. In mall branding support was provided to Xiaomi, extended space for setting up additional point of sales and registration counters were provided at the courtyard, lot of visibility was given to them at the prominent locations in and around the mall. We received an astounding 8,000+ online pre-booking registrations plus another 500 on ground registrations on the day of the launch.”
At Pacific Mall, the year 2017 saw one of the most coveted international brands – GAP – being launched. The brand and the mall went all out to let patrons know they were coming to Pacific Mall.
Apart from social media announcement and engagement – the best route to reach brand aficionados – the brand chose to go even grander in their quest to reach more consumers. The entire exterior of Pacific Mall was painted blue to herald the arrival of GAP. The first 100 customers were also given discounts on shopping at the store.
Abhishek Bansal, Executive Director, Pacific India Group says, “These things made a lot of difference and the brand got amazing visibility. Now, it is one of the top performing stores in the country.”
Parag Dani, Business Head, GAP India, Arvind Lifestyle Brands Ltd. elaborates on the launch of GAP at Pacific Mall, “We ran a pop-up store to advise customers about the launch date alongside a bounce back shopping voucher. In addition, we targeted the catchment of Pacific Mall and saw a good crowd turn up for the launch. The mall team was helpful with our initiatives –right from helping us identify the right spaces to advertise in and outside the mall to letting customers know about the launch through their own outreach –we received tremendous support for Gap’s launch.”
The brand created ripples during its launch in Mumbai too. Mukesh Kumar, Senior Vice President, Infiniti Mall shares: “GAP worked with Mumbai’s iconic dabbawalas to deliver a dabba to say #helloMumbai to some of the city’s most influential names, and personalities. The dabbas had an invite to the GAP store launch along with the GAP logo tee for the recipient.”
Another grand brand launch at Infiniti Mall was that of Sephora. “Sephora hosted the best beauty launch in town with stunningly gorgeous actresses Bipasha Basu, Esha Gupta and Disha Patani. They were seen doing a walkthrough of the store with the brand head during its launch and posed for the media at the store façade before making an exit from the store. The three leading Bollywood ladies showcased three different iconic Sephora looks of the season, flaunting it for the media and of course, for consumers. Moreover, the brand also hosted an exclusive shopping preview, make up experiential and VIP Party for selected guests. They were seen indulging in some serious retail therapy over sparkling wine with celebrity DJ Pratz almost turning the new store into a party place,” reveals Kumar.
During its launch at Palladium in Chennai, international brand Michael Kors hosted a hi-tea party at the store, inviting their High Net Worth Individual (HNI) clientele. Coach too had a hi-tea event during its launch as did Collective.
Talking about other brand launches at Palladium – Chennai, Murugan Rajan, Central Director says, “The brand Being Human held a press briefing and prominent influencers and clientele were invited for a free styling session by celebrity stylists.
“Brands are usually positive about going big on launch day, especially international, high-end brands. While on high streets, the most that brands can do is offer discounts, there is lot more that a mall can do for brands and consumers. We can give them that slight edge, a greater push and create an impressive launch.”
How do Majestic Launches Help Brands & Malls?
Rathore shares his views saying, “From the brand’s point of view it generates curiosity, increases brand awareness. There is better brand recall, it provides positive customer experience and hence leads to word of mouth sales. From a mall point of view, it leads to increase in footfalls and conversions.”
However, he explains that the buck for success of the brand eventually stops with the brand itself. “Brands with grand launches definitely perform better than others but eventually it depends on the quality of the product or service and innovation that the brand is offering that will define its success,” he says.
Kumar adds: “When a brand is launched, it introduces an image, presents a value proposition and communicates how products are different. A brand launch strategy has to address these functions and determine how it is going to promote each one to the members of its target market. A good launch does create a positive impact on brand image.”
If we take into consideration the above three examples, one could almost believe that going grand in as far as launch day is concerned has a near magical impact on the brand and that success is eventually a byproduct. But then of course that isn’t true.
Explaining the ‘why’ of this, Shashank Arya, Executive Director, DAR Group says, “The launch event of a brand definitely has an impact on visibility and brand image. However, performance or sales purely depends on what industry the brand caters to. No matter how fancy a launch event is- it cannot camouflage a product that lacks integrity.”
DAR Group is behind the stores Berleigh in India. The store is home to exquisite international footwear brands in the country. Speaking about the launch of their first store, Arya states, “We had a special preview for our discerning clientele followed by the actual launch. The response has been very positive since day one and we are now planning to do an out of the box in- store event around the month of April to celebrate the success achieved this far.”
Online fashion jewellery retailer Voylla too has been going all out with its store openings since March 2017. Vishwas Shringi, Founder – Voylla shares the details. “We did grand launches in 60 plus cities from March 2017 – in Phoenix MarketCity Bengaluru, PMC-Pune, PMC-Lucknow, PMC- Bareilly, Express Avenue – Chennai, Forum – Bengaluru, Forum – Mysore, Treasure Island Mall – Indore, Seawoods Grand Central Mall – Mumbai etc.We introduced the live mannequin concepts for our launches, international and leading Indian fashion models and Ms Indias have endorsed our collections on red carpet during the launches and all this put together created a strong brand pull through the live engagement with the malls walk-ins. We also have customized guest listings to launch our stores and invite the who’s who of the town covering Page 3, socialites, bureaucrats and influencers and media.”
Dar shares some very useful do’s and don’ts for a successful brand launch, “First thing is to choose the right location within the mall- is it near the entrance, is it in a corner, is it placed with brands of the similar caliber, the visibility? Location is everything. Next focus on whether the store is ready in terms of décor and products? Are the staff trained to handle an influx of walk-ins post launch? Is the visual display ideal to bring in the right audience? The right date and time- malls have their own in-house promotions and activities as well as other brands that might be launching on the same day. Will this be a clash or could the brand benefit from launching on the same day the mall has a planned activity?”
He minces no words when he says: “Don’t just launch the store with pomp and show. Run some promotions and expect to achieve success. The reputation of any business is defined by their products/service and exceptional customer experience provided.”
Working in Collaboration
Naviin Ibhrampurkar, Head of Marketing & Corporate Communication, Inorbit Malls (India) Pvt Ltd. talks about how at Inorbit, the mall management and retailers work in collaboration when it comes to announcing the opening of a new store.
He says: “At Inorbit, we get in touch with the brand right from the time the brand signs up the store and counsel them on the different marketing elements that can be planned jointly. The store opening and launch support is planned with brand team. We extend our support by offering branding spaces inside the mall, leveraging a brand’s social media assets, and using database marketing to create targeted communication. Other support extended is in form of mailers, social media videos etc.”
Majority of the malls use the social media platform to announce the launch of any new brand / store at their mall. Rathore highlights the importance of the tool saying, “In today’s day and age, there is no better way to reach out to customers than social media. Hence the mall puts up posts on its website under the heading ‘brand of the month’; Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages are updated with all the information with regards to the new store launch. In mall branding is done, other media such as print, radio, OOH are made use of to increase customer awareness. Direct marketing initiatives are taken up as well targeting specific communities, clubs and so on.Space is provided to the brands in the mall to put up installations and do activities and events around it. SMSes and mailers are sent to the mall database. Social media campaigns and contests are held to make the launch more interesting and to engage online customers.”
Kumar also talks about how his mall hand holds a brand during store launch. “We post store launch announcements on our social media pages for the brand to reach our patrons digitally. Also, we offer free branding in the mall premises and space for promotional activation to the brands.If the brand is eager and would like to reach out to our loyalty customers database, we help them by sending am emailer and SMS blast.”
Bansal says the plan of action in place at Pacific Mall is to reach customers through social media engagements. “A week before the launch, the stores themselves do outdoor holdings, hosts pre-launch event and create awareness to attract customers attention.”
Rathore shares how MI and Toys“R”Us used digital campaigns extensively to reach out to their target audience and attract them to the launch. Fashion brands like Springfield and Women’secret and F&B brands like Bar Bar and Shizusan adopted influencers, bloggers and socialite programs to get select audience to the launch.
“We can see a paradigm shift when it comes to strategy adopted by brands that are now evolving from just giving print ads or calling celebrities to cut ribbons to using extensive digital campaigns and influencer programs to reach out to their intended target audience,” he adds.
Elaborating on the support Inorbit extends to the brands during their launch, Ibhrampurkar shares: “The mall team provides balloon arches and helps in decorating the new store. This helps customers identify what’s new in the mall. A welcome ceremony is hosted in the store, to get affiliated with the brand staff, followed by a cake cutting for the staff and customers inside the store. The mall offers marketing support via branding spaces inside the mall. We also create social media campaigns and content for interested brands.”
“We have witnessed many new and grand launches at our malls in the past two years. Ideas like midnight opening of the store, pre-opening party, free gifts to early birds, brand ambassador interactions with consumers, teaser campaigns and social media contests are some of the earning experiences for a brand in our malls,” he adds.
Ibhrampurkar goes on to say that a few brands planned their launch effectively using all relevant marketing tools and mediums.
“According to us, launch events are primarily to reach out to maximum customers and increase the reach and eyeballs. On the day of opening you will see customers queuing up for inaugural discounts and freebies. Opening day sales of some brands are remarkable as brands actually breakrecord sales by calling celebrities. They also announce free gifts to the first 500 customers,” he states.
Is it a Norm to have a Grand Launch Event?
Most mall developers and brands agree on the notion of holding launch events which are unique, and exclusive. If a brand can’t do something huge for the launch, they opt for special previews for discerning patrons.
Rathore says, “All brands want to ensure that they create adequate noise to attract as many customers as possible. Toys“R”Us did a great job during their launch as they conducted a series of activities to draw kids and their families to the mall such as setting up a play gym at the entrance of the mall, in mall installations such as Lego and ninja structures, popular cartoon characters performing at the soul corner and Geoffrey the Giraffe, the mascot of Toys“R”Us walking around the mall taking pictures with customers. It is an experience like this that a customer would like to take back home with him as opposed to just walking around the mall and by chance discovering a new store. Usually launches take place over a month and discounts are offered during this entire period.”
So, is it only international brands that launch itself in India with pomp and show, making a lot of noise?
“They are entering new territory, they are changing their existing look and feel, they are introducing a new format. Sometimes customers are not aware of certain international brands and hence a big bang launch becomes necessary in order to generate a buzz and some curiosity. But having said that,even national brands like Pantaloons and Max have had grand openings here at Phoenix Marketcity, Bengaluru with activities like flash mobs, big sales and so on,” explains Rathore.
Ibhrampurkar also stresses on that fact that it is not just international brands who take launch days very seriously.
“We have observed lot of national brands doing unique showcases during their opening. The launch of Project Eve store at Inorbit Malad was one such case. On the opening day of the store there was a special discussion on different fashion trends with eminent personalities from the fashion world like Antara Motiwala, Shaleena Nathani, Nitasha Gaurav, and Krishika Lulla. Post the discussion, there was a special fashion show and the show stopper was Actress Yami Gautam,” he says.
“The other example would be the launch of Rheason at Inorbit Malad in association with Shoppers Stop.The concept of girls camping for 24 hours at the mall atrium overnight, to be amongst the first to shop garments from Rheason. The brand created a campsite at Inorbit Malad with tents, sleeping bags and all other amenities, there were fun activities arranged through the day and night to keep momentum and build excitement amongst the girls participating in the camp-in. Select 80 girls also got the first hand on all the collection and a chance to be personally styled by sisters Sonam Kapoor and Rhea Kapoor,” he adds.
The Year of Launches and New Store Openings
2017 seemed to be a year of launches for Phoenix Marketcity, Bengaluru. They had some of the biggest names, international and national brands opening their flagship stores at the mall.
“MI opened its first exclusive offline retail store at the mall, Toys“R”Us opened its first flagship store in the country, Springfield and Women’secret opened their first stores in India. Other successful brand launches were Bobbi Brown, Joy Alukkas, Mangatrai Neeraj, United Colors of Benetton, Aeropostale, Mont Blanc, Crossword, Smaaash, Koskii, Be Desi by Neerus, Smoor, Keventers, Bar Bar, Shizusan, Adidas Originals, Crocs andOrra Diamonds to name a few.”
“At Inorbit, we opened 11 new stores at Malad. 18 at Vadodara, 13 at Whitefield and around 11 new stores at Inorbit Hyderabad post March 2017 till date,” says Ibrahimpurkar.