When you live the brand it’s a lot easier to build. Simeran Bhasin, Co-Founder of Innerwear Brand, BRAG, has followed this policy which has consistently helped her gain over two decades of experience with brands in diverse consumer segments such as children, youth and luxury. After working with Fastrack from Titan, Manipal Hotels, Britannia and Wildcraft in 2014, she became an entrepreneur and launched India’s first and only brand for young girls focused on innerwear in 2016 – BRAG.
During our Webinar series, Simeran Bhasin shared their trip on working with some of the best-known brands, their insights into the success of a campaign for GenZ, and how it expanded Fastrack, Wildcraft and now BRAG at the national level. She sheds some light on her insights during her journey, believing that it is important to stay true to the essence of the brand and that every brand should find a way to become relevant to their consumers in order for them to be a success.
Was the transition from your journey with Fastrack – from watches to a lifestyle brand for the youth – easy?
“Everyone in the Fastrack team was thrilled to try something new. I always believed that we had to live the brand in order to build it and connect with it. That was our starting point. In a company like Titan, the transition was easy. Entrepreneurship is in Titan blood. It’s the organization that has allowed us to explore innovative avenues for the brand. It’s comparatively easier to build a new brand from scratch or with a relatively small brand that is adventurous. ”
What was it like to scale brands with national presence?
“It’s simply the amalgamation of universal business insight, relevant product insight, and brand insight that gives the brand nationality and scalability across the country. At the same time, it comes down to working on the other aspects of the brand to understand the consumers who help scale brands nationally. “
How did the insights of other brands contribute to the development of BRAG?
“You have to put yourself in the shoes of the consumer. We have always built a brand for ourselves. Having human bodies in indefinite shapes and sizes, producing the age-appropriate product and creating age-appropriate communication were some of the key elements of BRAG’s branding strategy. With some major hits and misses from the brand, exploring multiple channels, and taking a direct-to-consumer approach, everything was fine. “
How would you define BRAG’s vision and why did you choose this particular brand name?
“Brag’s vision has always been to bring girls’ inner clothing out of the closet onto the street”. It inspires and strives for women to speak. Product stereotype, business model stereotype and gender stereotype were the hurdles we took to create the brand. BRAG – the name was short, simple and connected to our audience. We, as marketers, need to make it easier for consumers. The goal has always been to leave a legacy and make an impact. However, we have found that the definitions of impact change every few months. The priorities shifted from a cool product to a comfortable one, it was a vertical learning curve.”
Insights, hits, misses and more …
“The approach has never been to start as a direct-to-consumer brand. 95% of India bought interior clothing from offline stores. The game has now changed. Indian retailers have always been a tough nut to crack, but they saw BRAG as an opportunity. Our greatest affirmation came from them. Soon we were on the radars of leading brands. BRAG’s best-selling product was for tweens, but we targeted teenagers. This was an opportunity for the brand that spawned Ms. Brack (beginner bra for tweens) and contributed 80% of sales. The biggest takeaway for us was to change consumer attitudes (especially teenagers) and sell the idea of ”comfort” with underwear that was common with a traditional bra. It was more difficult than convincing a beginner. The move is a very big challenge and we faced too many obstacles. The girls loved the way the product looked rather than how it felt. Some very strong cultural nuances like this would come up in conversations and reveal external buying processes. How does it fit, for example, and what does it look like during the trial sessions? So behavior changes were one of the findings. “
What do you think are the top brand building drivers for GenZ?
“Branding is not just about identifying demographics, and we are often very affected. More important is the mindset of young people in the context of the age segment. Today’s youth brands include Levis, and we’ve seen 70-year-olds wear Levis. You are young at heart. At Fastrack we have defined it as the “campus mindset” that exists in older and younger generations, but the focus of the mindset is always on campus. If we get stuck in old age, we may still go too far and not be well-defined brands. GenZ is extremely authentic and honest as a consumer and knows almost everything from gender sensitivity to democracy. When they consume content, they are much more empathetic than previous generations. “
Marketing strategies and channels – what was so different about BRAG?
“The balance between communication between teenagers and mothers was crucial. What will the brand look like when the consumer comes across the content and how would a mom see it? With tweens, it’s the mother who brings the user to the product. So we do education for the mothers, but it’s in the voice of a young girl and we have a separate brand presence on social media for it. Communication is indirectly what a mother would refer to. It has to be funnier and less awkward, all of this comes from a tween girl to her mom. Trust is built up differently, so a separate platform is provided for this target group. As a brand, we must also remember to talk to the other consumers who have their own voices (the teenagers) as this can lead to failure. The content must be relevant to both groups. “
New market segment against competition in an existing one – what do you think?
“Playing within the segment is relatively easy as we don’t have to sell the relevance of the product. For a new segment, you need to build awareness of the need from scratch. It’s very exhausting and the greatest learning for me. It’s not just about creating brand awareness, it’s also about the need. Changes in behavior require a lot more effort. The risk also lies in being in the market too early. In the case of competition, we have to convince people that what they are buying is not good enough. “
Change strategies, change times during Covid-19 – a message to brand agencies?
“Marketing is largely a variable expense. Given the fact that there are fewer brands in the e-commerce space, marketing budgets will decrease. Brands will cut projects. It’s also important for agencies to capture ongoing expenses, streamline operations, and select smaller projects to cover expenses and maintain cash flow. It’s also about finding out-of-the-box solutions for communication and media, which in the past probably wasn’t part of the mandate. Being overly supported and going beyond the original mandate is greatly appreciated. The humanization of decisions is the key to supporting employees … “
Building a brand’s digital community – what should be the starting point for this?
“It is crucial to ensure the ‘why’. Clear purpose, brand personality, brand tonality must be in place, along with a strong target audience that will streamline your communication. The hotter it is, the greater the chances of success. Every brand is online today and everyone says they are cool. We should also be clear about what we’re not going to do or talk about, and everything should be part of the brand too. ”
Can purpose become the voice of the brand?
“Yes, the purpose can become the brand voice. The purpose can go hand in hand with the personality of the brand and can be used to communicate the ultimate goal. We talk about things that are important to the brand. It may or may not speak directly about the product at times. Today we curate all of our feeds by interest, so every creation the brand creates is about interest. They will attract consumers of this type. “
Watch the full session from Simeran Bhasin in conversation with Social Beat. Feel free to drop your questions if you still have questions for Simeran.