ASICS is amping up presence in India, plans to open 14-15 new stores every year, over the next three years

Rajat Khurana, Managing Director, ASICSASICS
  • ASICS entered India in 2015 and since then has managed to build a loyal consumer base.
  • With 41 stores in India currently, including four concept stores in Mumbai, Hyderabad and Goa, ASICS is aiming at opening at least 14-15 new stores every year, including a few in Tier II and Tier III towns.
  • The brand has recorded revenues close to Rs 138 crore for the year ending March 2019, growing at a CAGR of 30-40% since 2015.
  • Rajat Khurana, Managing Director, ASICS shares that he is optimistic that the brand will continue to grow at a similar rate for the next 2-3 years.
It has been barely four years since Japanese sports brand ASICS launched in India. However, its continued focus to break clutter by associating with running, instead of focusing on popular sports like cricket, has helped it gain a loyal following. India is one of the top markets the brand is focusing on globally and is looking at expanding its presence in the market substantially.

With 41 stores in India currently, including four concept stores in Mumbai, Hyderabad and Goa, ASICS is aiming at opening at least 14-15 new stores every year, including a few in Tier II and Tier III towns. The brand will increase the number of its concept stores in India and most of its upcoming stores will follow its new global format.

The brand has also had a good run financially, shares Rajat Khurana, Managing Director, ASICS. “We have recorded revenues close to Rs 138 crore for the year ending March 2019, growing at a CAGR of 30-40% since 2015. We aim to grow at a similar rate for the next 2-3 years too,” he shares, his optimism palpable.

ASICS’ India story

ASICS as a brand has a long heritage in sports, based on the founding philosophy of the company instituted by its founder Kihachiro Onitsuka in 1949. It launched in India in 2015, and has, over the years, partnered with athletes across the spectrum of sports, many of whom have represented India at various events.

Despite entering the country in 2015, ASICS has associated with the Tata Mumbai Marathon for over a decade now, primarily to show its commitment towards running as a sport. The brand recently roped in actor Tiger Shroff as its brand ambassador, marking its foray into the athleisure category with SportStyle.

Khurana is confident that this segment will continue to see healthy growth in India, considering the consumer’s tastes are evolving, and fitness is becoming a way of life for most. “We have seen the athleisure category grow at a rate of 20-25% annually, and according to me it is only going to go bullish. The athleisure trend is here to stay, and with fitness becoming such an integral part of everyone's lives, people are opting for athleisure wear rather than the mundane clothing. The upcoming trend in the category will focus on performance technology and iconic style aesthetics. The design fusion will be more authentic to its heritage moving forward which will be optimized to deliver in performance technology and style,” shares Khurana.

With a good growth in the Indian market, the brand is also serious about expanding its presence in the country. Khurana shares the roadmap ahead for the brand. “We have 41 stores in the country and out of those we have four concept stores in Mumbai, Hyderabad and Goa. With our exclusive stores, we want to introduce the consumers to highly technical aspects of the brand’s products to create a powerful brand experience. The store immerses consumers in a world where both the mind and body are stimulated and offers a wide variety of running, training and SportStyle inspired shoes and apparels for men and women. Most of our upcoming stores will follow the new global format and you will see an increase in the number of concept stores across the country by next year. Over the next three years, ASICS will open at least 14-15 new stores every year, including a few in Tier II and Tier III towns,” he explains.

The brand’s marketing game

ASICS has been really smart about how it has marketed itself in India. Over the years, it has associated with various athletes and celebrities that helped it gain word-of-mouth. While it stayed away from Television advertising, using other mediums like Digital, Print and Outdoor effectively to spread its message, this year, for the first time, it collaborated with the movie The Zoya Factor and used TV as a medium to promote the association.

“We have a 360-degree marketing approach to all our key campaigns and media planning. Digital is key for us along with traditional channels like print, outdoor advertising and radio across key metro cities. Our aim is to keep identifying new age platforms that amplify our brand messaging and create the right kind of awareness in Tier II and Tier III cities too,” says Khurana.

It also recently launched a campaign, Joy for Running, which is in tune with its focus on running. The campaign called for people to get inspired to run without a finish line and propagate the habit, for the joy of running itself. Speaking about the campaign, Khurana says, “The brand aims to promote this ideology by engaging with their in-house coaches, fitness influencers and nutrition experts of the ASICS Running Club in different cities across India. We believe that sport has the power to change lives and our association with the Mumbai Marathon for over 10 years has demonstrated our commitment towards it. It’s our constant endeavor to curate a fun and motivational running culture by building communities across India. Through the ‘Joy of Running’ campaign, we want to promote the message that anyone can run, you just need the right shoes and spirit; ASICS is providing you both.”

Plans for 2020

With Olympics 2020 happening in Tokyo, ASICS’ home turf, Khurana shares that the brand will try to make the most of the opportunity.

Sharing some of the brand’s plans, Khurana says, “With the prestigious event happening where our headquarters are, the brand will surely be a leading investor at the event among many other participants. However, it’s integral to our philosophy to collaborate with the Indian athletes and bring them top class products, which improve their medal prospects for the country at the marquee event. We want to be sure that our fans and consumers have a greater insight of how the brand functions and the innovative technologies involved in producing our marquee products. We are working on our ‘I Move Me’ campaign for the next year, which shall give a strong message to our consumers on a global scale.”

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