In Conversation with Pawan Agarwal

Chairman & MD, Suditi Industries
Tuesday, 17 Oct 2017
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Pawan Agarwal has more than two decades of experience in the finance, marketing & other related matters particularly with reference to manufacture and export of garments. He has been the Chairman & Managing Director of Suditi Industries since September 1991.
Pawan Agarwal has more than two decades of experience in the finance, marketing & other related matters particularly with reference to manufacture and export of garments. He has been the Chairman & Managing Director of Suditi Industries since September 1991.

You have forged successful partnerships with celebrities, including Anushka Sharma and Yuvraj Singh, among others. How should brands plan celebrity collaborations? What are the top three points to bear in mind before doing this?  

You are right in a way that celebrities do not sell on their own in every business segment. If you are planning a brand collaboration with a celebrity, some celebrities may not meet the requirement, while others like Anushka Sharma and Yuvraj Singh may add a lot of clothing brand appeal.

To answer your question directly, here are a few points:

1. The brand messaging and celebrity personality should match. Like in case of Anushka Sharma, it is not just her soaring personality but also her appeal as a fashion icon, especially the fashion grace and simplicity she carries which make her an ideal brand for everyday styling. Our business objective was clear, to inspire young woman to indulge in fresh styling for western wear.
2. The brand characteristics and the celebrity personality attributes should be a natural fitment. Now, if you are wondering why Yuvraj Singh for a clothing line - He is a great inspiration for the youth who want to live life to the fullest and clothing is a part of your everyday rejuvenation and re-energization. It is a different concept all-together.
3. And last but not the least, it is important to know the return on investment. While some celebrity collaborations will link with the buyers instantly, as s/he may be a fashion rage, the others may be more of a niche brand. So, in that sense, the business cost and the returns must be justified considering the overall company sentiment.

In the case of Anushka Sharma's collaboration, how long did it take to research, plan and execute the exercise? What was lacking in the market that you tapped through this new western wear offering?

It did take us some time to research and note the intricacies of Anushka Sharma’s clothing style, preference and taste on-screen. Her popularity due to her increased on-screen presence has been growing. But, it was finally her entrepreneurial spirit which encouraged us to approach her with the idea of Nush. It was a different idea for her too, because till then, she has her own production unit and Nush was something completely different. I guess it was ultimately her instinct to follow fashion or inspire-in-fashion that ultimately convinced her to take up this new enterprising journey in the first place.

Suditi’s established business background and state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities added to her confidence and comfort. We were spot-on to convince her-why the Indian clothing business needs Nush, led by Anushka Sharma and Suditi. The understanding is that there is a visible gap in the existing everyday clothing styling and fashionable inspiration. In that sense, it is exclusively Anushka Sharma who fits the bill of elegant, willful and relatable wears.  

What should be the strategy to successfully implement JVs? What were the points to bear in mind for the Anushka Sharma partnership?

The only business strategy should be-mutual interests and passion. Like a celebrity, even a business venture like ours is single-mindedly focused on offering something new to the customers. It is in our mutual interest to give buyers what they don’t have. Anushka Sharma has an entrepreneurship already and we were fortunate enough to convince her to bring forth her personal styling in clothing a step forward. She understands the spirit of enterprising and was keen, like us, to lend her creativity, exclusivity and continuity to the fashion landscape of Indian clothing segment. 

How does it help to tie up with celebrities for JVs? The company has gone beyond just doing brand ambassador deals after all. How will the Anushka Sharma JV help?

In my opinion, JVs with celebrities show another level of commitment by both the parties involved in doing business. For one, they both are seriously involved in protecting and enhancing the brand image. However, even before they work together to build a brand, it is really the mutual trust and confidence which works in favour of the customers. If you ask how, isn’t it natural for the celebrity to have invested confidence in the business capacity and the market vision of Suditi and likewise, for us, to express that trust and confidence in a celebrity, who in our firm opinion, signifies the value of a contemporary customer especially the youth in India. It is a lot of investment from both sides because the customers are always on a lookout for something fresh and unique, at a time when they are spoilt for choice. That mutual trust and confidence of doing business get a strong foothold with a JV, expressing long-form vested interests.

How is the e-commerce space becoming more relevant for companies like yours? What should brands be careful about in terms of getting noticed on online marketplaces?

We already have an established presence through our wide-spread distribution network in tier 2 and tier 3 cities and towns. Yet, we found relevance in the online marketplace, since it is a new way of doing clothing business and that too, a successful way of doing business. It has been our continued endeavor to plan strategic business channel expansion and if our buyers are to be found online too, we will be there as well.

Of course, online marketspace is cluttered. To do more business, we have a battery of employees who understand the nuisances of the business and are working continuously to develop latest ways of doing business digitally. I believe brands should be watchful of how the internet users are receiving every bit of news related to clothing and fashion. After all, it is the biggest advantage of engaging with the internet audience- getting instant user feedback. 

Could you tell us about the distribution strategy of the brand and what the brand plans in the next two years?

Nush will be available at Shoppers Stop and has an exclusive launch tie-up with Myntra. We are also tapping a variety of shop-in-shop outlets across India. As we move forward, we will continue to look for new avenues and channels to optimize the brand. Like I said, we don’t follow the mantra of one-brand-strategy fits to all. For us, every new brand is unique and must be tailored in a fashion that the essence of it is absorbed by the targeted buyers. Our distribution approach is both cautionary and real-time.

Can we expect more licensed brands or will the focus be on your own brands? What are the points to bear in mind for exclusive, licensing deals according to you?

As we continue moving forward in gusto, you can expect news from us on both the fronts. Our own retail brands are doing great business and we have the ability and capacity to take it to even greater heights. Likewise, any celebrity who truly inspires us and if we continue to inspire them is destined to be our JV partner. The bottom line is- buyers should give the first signal. If they desire something new, we are ready to serve them like their favourite dish on the menu. We have the manufacturing capacity to do so and a distribution strength to reach across the diverse set of buyers.

What should be the role of agencies to promote the brands? 

An advertising agency is a creative backbone to put across the brand message to wide, targeted base of audience. Something as usual as clothing must be said in a way, to compel the audience in that few seconds, that yes-I am checking out this brand now. I think, we have it both.

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