PUMA marketer on why retail is still a priority, despite massive e-commerce push

Sports brand PUMA has revealed plans to grow its online presence in the region with the establishment of its on e-commerce set-up in early 2019. Through the move, the brand looks to launch not only its direct e-commerce site but also strengthen its relationships with leading online marketplaces.

But this doesn't take away from the importance of having a retail space, Eleanor Wang, marketing manager for PUMA Southeast Asia explained to Marketing. This is despite softening retail conditions seen in past years.

Wang explained that while online commerce is the main channel consumers go to, the company believes that the brand experience and experiential factor physical retail brings are unique. This allows PUMA to build brand loyalty and mindshare, which is not possible to replicate in an online space.

“Everyone knows the retail climate has been soft the past few years with an emphasis shift to online commerce. For PUMA Singapore, we developed our strategy by first establishing the unique selling factor for our consumers,” Wang explained.

PUMA also re-assessed its retail store network and developed various concept stores across different locations. For the company, this was well-received by consumers through the showing in sales, which it added has been “growing in double digit year-on-year”.

“Building on this strategy, PUMA Singapore will continue to expand its retail presence with more stores, alongside with in-store events and tactical promotions, to cater to our consumers,” Wang said.

The past 18 months saw the brand open four stores in various prime shopping locations such as Paragon, Bugis+, Suntec City, and its most recent PUMA SELECT concept store at The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands that showcases its designer collaboration collections. The brand also plans to expand its retail presence in the third quarter of this year by opening its first KIDS concept store in Southeast Asia at United Square. This is along with two new full-fledged stores in JEM Mall and the newly renovated Century Square Mall.

Wang said that Singapore was chosen as the launch market due to its “sophisticated consumer landscape and higher spending power community”.  The brand had also been looking for suitable opportunities to bring its global PUMA Kids’ concept into execution. This was because the market for children had always been a staple pie in the retail business, she explained.

“When the store opportunity at United Square was first proposed, we found it a good match. United Square is known for being a kids’ learning hub, with kid-friendly features such as color-themed levels, making the mall a good location for our first PUMA Kids Store in SEA,” Wang said, adding that the brand plans to create customised marketing plans targeted at both parents and children.

PUMA also aims to utilise it various concepts such as specialty store, full-fledged and shop-in-shop concepts across different locations. Its marketing campaigns will be tailored according to various product collections and its respective stores. For example, the PUMA Select store at Marina Bay Sands that carries the collaboration and limited edition range saw global collaborators Shantell Martin and Nick Diamond coming to town for a fan meet at PUMA’s recent official store opening event.

The sports brand also hosts regular fitness-themed activations to cater to consumers in the fitness community and these store-centric events are executed together with distributors and marketing partners.

In addition to retail stores, PUMA also creates thematic pop-up stores to drive a specific product category. In July, it has plans to launch the third football kit officially in Singapore via an exclusive pop-up and launch event which allows consumers get to meet the Arsenal football team in person. This is couple with enjoy other experiential perks and tactical promotions, which will be shared more at a later stage.