Manohar Samuel, President Marketing for Birla Cellulose, talks about the campaign for the company’s newest launch, Liva Crème, use of digital in building the brand’s premium image and why Kangana Ranaut is the right face for the brand

Post On : 02-05-2017 | Tuesday

Manohar Samuel, President Marketing for Birla Cellulose, talks about the campaign for the company’s newest launch, Liva Crème, use of digital in building the brand’s premium image and why Kangana Ranaut is the right face for the brand



Q] Tell us something about your new launch, Liva Crème. How would you differentiate it from Liva, your previous product?

When Liva was launched, we did so with feedback from consumers who were looking for garments that are fashionable yet fluid. Our consumer research showed that consumers wanted natural and comfortable fabrics yet something that was stylish and fluid. We introduced Liva to meet this growing demand from consumers. But how do we keep the product alive season after season? That means we had to innovate. Liva Crème is an innovation, right from the fibre itself, with a luxuriously soft feel and lustrous look. This is a far more luxurious fabric than our previous launch – Liva, and we will promote it as a more premium product as well.


Q] You have Kangana Ranaut as the face of your brand. What makes her a good fit for Liva?

Yes, Kangana has a great fashion sense! When we had our initial discussion with her, I could see in her the same free spirited nature that she exhibits in her movies. She has a vibrant personality, which is exactly what we wanted for our brand. She is also very knowledgeable and has a keen sense of fashion. We are a dynamic brand and with her energetic personality, she represents Liva very well.


Q] Can you tell us about which brands and designers you have tied up with for Liva and Liva Crème?

For Liva, we have tied up with all the brands who have their own Exclusive Business Outlets (EBO’s) and we are also present in large format retail stores like Shoppers Stop, Pantaloons and Lifestyle.

For Liva Crème, since the product is more premium, we worked with fashion designers to create unique collections with the fabric. We have Nikhil Thampi who created a collection for Allen Solly. We also have Shivan and Naresh who have created a collection for Van Heusen and Ka-Sha (Karishma Shahani Khan) who has created a few collections for Shoppers Stop.


Q] In total, how many stores and brands have you tied up with? And how many are you looking to partner with?

For Liva this season, we have tied up with as many as 34 brands and we are looking at making the product more accessible. When we launched the brand two years ago, the number of garments with Liva tags were 18 lakh. Today we have 140 lakh tagged garments available. We perhaps are the largest ingredient brand today. We are present in a total of 2,500 stores. Our partnership with the co-branding partners has seen some strong innovations and has helped us grow rapidly.

For Liva Crème, we have thus far tied up with 11 brands since we are trying to build a more premium image. For our next season collection, we are working with as many as 12 standalone designers. I would not like to name them just yet but maybe closer to the next season.


Q] How do differentiate your TG for Liva and Liva Crème?

We are in fact talking to the same set of consumers because Liva is also in fact, a premium product. Liva Crème will be marketed to the same consumers, who are looking for a more premium and luxurious offering. Therefore, we will handle and position Liva Crème differently from Liva.


Q] How do you plan to reach out to your target consumers?

On TV, our TVC will promote only Liva for now since this is the first time we will be on TV. For Liva Crème, we will focus on exclusive print media. We will work with Vogue, Femina, Grazia and other key fashion magazines. We will also roll out campaigns in the mainline premium newspapers. Based on feedback from retailers, we will initially focus only on key big cities and then build enough momentum to take the product to the other smaller markets. We have also taken a few facades in premium malls in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore. We’re also planning outdoor hoardings in these cities. We will also have exclusive gold matte finish visual merchandise in stores to match the aspirational quality of Liva Crème.


Q] Which are the key markets you are looking at for this campaign?

Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore are the key cities, followed by Hyderabad, Chennai and Kolkata.


Q] With the launch of Liva Crème, would you say your advertising spends have increased?

Yes, marketing and ad spends have definitely increased. We have a huge R&D spend with our development centre where we innovate on fabrics for our seasonal collections. We are also going to be on TV for the first time with our new TVC. If I were to give you an indication, I would say our advertising spends have increased by two and a half times over the past couple of years. As part of the BTL spends, we set aside a training budget of Rs 40 lakh – we have begun to train retail staff to help them assist customers in making informed choices. We also know the high attrition rate of the front level retail executive, but this is an investment and we feel this is some value that we can offer the staff and retail partners.


Q] Aside from outdoor and TV, are you looking at any other platforms?

For Liva Crème, we are going to invest heavily in digital. We will have our partnering designers talk about their designs, collections and the fabric. We also have a few fashion bloggers promote the fabric and creating their own, unique looks with our designs. We are also launching print catalogues for consumers with some of the large retail stores like Shoppers Stop.


Q] Are there any tier 2 markets that you plan to look at in the near future?

Yes, definitely. Fashion is an aspirational thing. If you like a brand, it doesn’t matter what consumer segment you’re in, you will still make your purchase. We will definitely look at widening of our consumer base, provided they have the Liva Crème sensibilities and principles we operate on. We believe the brand has potential to grow in emerging markets.


Q] Are there any markets that have surprised you?

Yes, out of the 2,500 plus stores that stock Liva tagged garments, it is the Southern towns that have surprised me. Almost 37% of the Liva sales come from the South. We have seen an excellent response from cities like Coimbatore and Vijaywada. Another market that has surprised us is Jaipur. Tier 2 markets have really shown a phenomenal growth and we have seen the brand’s presence grow in as many as 190 cities in the country.

Q] Are there any products or brands that you consider competition?

The main difference for Liva is that it is a collaborative brand. The only thing is the products need to have the Liva quality stamp on. The Liva standard quality stamp is critical for us. We work with all the premium brands and they are growing with us, so I don’t see any competition at all.

Q] Tell us some of the things you have done to keep the brand eco-friendly.

We have done a lot to stay environment-friendly and most of it is with the global brands. Among the Indian companies, Madura Garments, our sister company also does a lot towards the environment. Our product is natural and comes from the trunk of the tree, so what we do in conservation is that we plant more than we cut. We also work with farmers to support them in terms of water conservation and in helping to grow trees.

Q] You partnered with Amazon Fashion Week as well. How has that helped build the brand?

Yes, we were excited to collaborate with FDCI at the Amazon Fashion Week. Our objective was to interact and engage with the fashion designers and highlight Liva’s fashion adaptability. I believe the collaboration has helped to make quite an impact in terms of building the brand.

Q] Apart from Amazon, are you looking at other fashion weeks?

We are open to all the fashion weeks, but honestly we don’t have the internal bandwidth to do so right now. Perhaps we will in the future.



Category: CMO Interview Volume No: 13 Issue No: 47







Top 30 Under 30
50 Most Influential Women

Copyright 2018 Adsert Web Solutions Pvt Ltd . All Rights Reserved.