Much to the likes of Dhoni, Virat Kohli, and Yuvraj, Virender Sehwag lovingly known as the Nawab of Najafgarh too plunged into the athleisure space with his homegrown brand ‘VS’ an acronym of his name. Launched in March 2020, VS by Virender Sehwag aspires to achieve Rs 100 crore revenues in the next 3 years and wants to acquire 5 million customers across India in 5 years. The brand other than his former teammate’s lifestyle brand is also competing with international mega-brands like Adidas, Reebok, Nike, and Puma.
With gyms and sports centres gathering dust, the need to be fit and active has increased in the pandemic, and so is the demand for activewear apparel. According to a study by Research and Markets, the activewear market in India is estimated to be Rs 997.8 billion by 2024, expanding at an annual growth rate of 13.5 percent during the 2019-2024 period.
Growth Strategy of VS by Virender Sehwag
Here are some of the strategies that are likely to be adopted by the brand to expand its share in the Indian athleisure market.
- Attractive price range: Virender Sehwag himself belonging to a humble middle-class family understood there are hardly any sports brands that cater to the masses. The international sportswear brand’s steep price tags force consumers of tier-II and III cities to settle for inferior quality. The t-shirts available in VS brand costs between Rs 499-599, whereas the same shall cost Rs 3000-4000.
- Dedicated to cricket: None of his former teammate’s brands focuses on selling cricket kits and equipment such as batting gloves, bat, and pads on their websites directly, and affording the same from an international brand will be expensive. VS by Virender Sehwag offers gloves, knee pads, and gloves on its online store.
According to a study by Research and Markets, the activewear market in India is estimated to be Rs 997.8 billion by 2024, expanding at an annual growth rate of 13.5 percent during the 2019-2024 period.
- Digital marketing strategy: Virender Sehwag is famous amongst the Hindi-speaking population of India due to his comic puns on sports on social media, fun commentary during matches, and interviews that have earned him a large fanbase. On social media, he has 13 million and 6.5 million followers on Facebook and Instagram respectively. The brand plans to leverage the same to lure more customers and increase the reach of the brand.
- Going omnichannel: When we follow the omnichannel strategy, we are creating customer touchpoints and the means to move closer to them. Sales through digital channels such as apps and websites provide convenience whereas shopping from stores allows the customer to receive personalised advice. Going omnichannel offers customers a seamless shopping experience.
VS by Virender Sehwag – Physical stores till the date
VS will be launching three stores in 2021 in Vadodara, Kolhapur, and Sultanpur, his native state. The brand has launched its first store in Ahmedabad and has plans to launch two more in the same city. Gujarat has recently been birthing many young cricketers such as Krunal Pandya, Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, and the current world’s number one fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah. It has also appointed distributors Delhi, Faridabad, Bhopal, Indore, Sri Ganganagar, and Kanpur. It also plans to launch 5 stores outside of Gujarat in a few days.
What lies ahead for an entrepreneur or a former sportsperson to foray into the athleisure space?
With increasing disposable income and more inclination towards maintaining a fit and healthy lifestyle, the demand for activewear apparel will witness an uptick in demand. The Indian Cricket team’s consistent winning streak overseas and the league format matches will encourage more individuals to buy merchandise of their favourite teams. Affordable sportswear brands will have ample business opportunities catering to the needs of aspiring sportspersons belonging to smaller cities and towns, since international brands have not yet tapped that space. The rise of organised retail in tier-II and III cities will also pave the demand of branded sportswear goods. Former sportspersons leveraging their large fanbase can expand their brand awareness to the masses.