Social networking sites drive Hidesign to tier-II cities

''More people from tier-II and tier-III cities aspire towards luxury lifestyles. Hidesign saw an increase in the feedback on social networking sites like Facebook as well as in the number of online sales from these regions," Dilip Kapur, president of Hidesign, told IANS.

"So it is essential that we go to the customer rather than expect customers to visit us in metros," he added.

This is not their first attempt to enter smaller cities - the brand is already available in Pondicherry, Goa and Cochin mainly because of the huge footfalls of foreigners visiting these places.

But this is their first major expansion plan as they feel Indian consumers in emerging cities are looking beyond essentials, with high-income households in particular showing strong buying intention, thus making a strong impact on sales growth for retail brands.

Hidesign, a one-man brand, was born in Auroville in Tamil Nadu in 1978 and has turned into a business that is growing at the rate of 25-30 percent per annum. The brand has 56 stores in India.

Kapur feels the shopping malls are a boon for them. "Malls help create space that is exciting for customers. We prefer malls as they increase walk-ins," he said.

It's a surprise that the brand has its largest independent store, approximately 750 sq ft
in Guwahati, Assam.

"A two-level store in Guwahati's old town overlooking the lake is our largest store till date. We expect it to thrive as a destination store as northeast India symbolizes nature, warmth and a sense of beauty that goes hand in hand with the ideals and values of Hidesign," Kapur said.

Surprisingly, when Kapur started this label, he did not start retailing from India but Britain and Australia where the market was in those days. It was only in the late 1990s that the Indian market became the focus.

But since early 2000, the brand gauged the growing economic scene in India and started to promote their brand vigorously.

"We have always taken innovative steps in reaching out to our target group through concentrated campaigns in the early 2000s instead of going mass with advertising, or directing marketing activities towards airports way before other luxury lifestyle retailers saw the opportunity," he said.

After this, the brand plans to open exclusive stores in Nagpur, Surat, Kanpur and Indore as well.

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