Louis Philippe (LP) has stood for its excellence since 1989, the time it was launched in India. The tradition of excellence dates back to the 60’s when the brand was first introduced in England, inspired by the golden age of King Louis Philippe of France.
The legacy became a part of the brand family of Madura Fashion & Lifestyle – a division of Aditya Birla Nuvo Ltd. The brand today is one of India’s fastest growing branded apparel companies and a premium lifestyle player in the retail sector.
With 25 years of devotion towards craftsmanship and quality, LP has also contributed in the same spirit to the social and digital revolution happening in the country. Today the brand has the social media numbers desired by its competitors but beyond the numbers and contests, the digital team at Louis Philippe along with their digital agency, Jack In The Box have focused on “content.”
This pursuit of forward thinking by the brand on social media gave birth to The Label – a lifestyle magazine that talks about the gentleman’s lifestyle. With sheer brilliance of content, the magazine has an amazing readership and is pursuing to deliver content in other consumable and entertaining formats.
But, success hasn’t been overnight for LP on social and digital.
The brand started its digital journey three years ago with similar social media activities like all other brands during the time. LP had a Facebook and Twitter page with generic content push. During those days the understanding of the brand was quite nascent since the social media market was fairly new in the country. LP had a good website and the brand continued to do the regular stuff on social media for a year till the time Sridhar Rajaram joined as Marketing Head.
“About two years ago, LP was doing basic kind of activities on social media. But we realised soon that we were being left behind since that was the time when a lot of international brands who were producing interesting content, were entering the Indian market.
Besides this, since last two years, there has been a lot of consumer interest in the men’s fashion wear. Customers are more demanding and a lot of them were asking questions about a particular category,” adds Sridhar.
The brand realized the need for building a good presence on social media. The brand spent money on getting good sizeable likes and started working on producing better content for Facebook. LP received a decent response but on hindsight Sridhar thinks it wasn’t a great approach to go after the medium.
“After some time we stopped doing these regular social media activities since we felt that was something drastically wrong. Facebook was very demanding by then in terms of reach and how you control the platform,” he adds.
Thereafter, the brand started looking for answers for two big questions – 1. The consumer was a lot more demanding, he wanted to engage more with the brand, and 2. Social was itself becoming difficult to control.
The brainstorming efforts of the brand along with its agency highlighted that it was high time the brand started creating its own digital properties.
“We started from scratch and asked ourselves what we wanted to do as a brand rather than just going on doing regular stuff on a daily basis. When we did this, it was very clear that we wanted to be the largest lifestyle destination in the digital space for the Indian men’s wear consumer. This led to the conclusion that we need to invest in building our own properties,” Sridhar informs, while LP started looking at its existing properties.
LP had a decent website and the first decision was to make it better and focused to consumer queries rather than being a brand website. But then a brand website has its own limitations too, which is when the discussion of larger platforms came into discussion. The brand started looking at the things that surround or excite a man. These were spaces like gadgets, fitness, sports, automobiles, etc. and all these fit well with LP. This is when LP decided to launch a lifestyle magazine, which was coined as “The Label” in March 2013.
“We looked at the international space and there were brands who had such portals, we researched them and we were clear that if we had to launch a lifestyle magazine, we need to converse with the audience on his interest areas,” shares Sridhar on the objective of Label which was about creating content surrounding the interest areas of an LP man.
The move by the brand was a mere shot in the dark since LP hypothesized that the Indian male is looking for such content. The brand launched the magazine under four or five broad categories and to its surprise it hit a gold mine.
“As a brand, Label continued to create pressure on us to keep creating high quality content day in day out. This was one of the key elements that led to the success of Label,” Sridhar says. He also adds that there are not too many brands who have pushed themselves like LP has done for Label.
Further, Sridhar adds that with Label, the brand was not only creating good content but was investing in creating content. “Otherwise we would have invested in driving traffic to the website rather than creating quality content which was the actual need of social media. Creating good and quality content will only motivate people to read, share and write about it on social media. This also solves your 50 percent of content discovery and the rest anyways will depend on how you optimize your website, SEM, keywords management,” he informs, while discussing some of the learnings LP had with the launch of Label.
With the support of Jack in The Box, a team of content creators are churning out one good story every day across any of the categories for Label, informs Abhishek Razdan. Over the years the agency has been responsible for content creation as well as managing the social media properties of the brand.
As on date the magazine is subscribed by three and a half lakh readers. On subscription, a reader gets a digest of all the stories published by Label in the week.
While LP was investing in content rather than content discovery, the content was also targeting brand conscious consumers. The way it happened was that while content was being created on Label, the team started collaborating with a lot of other well known brands in tech, sports, gadgets, etc.
Citing a recent example, Sridhar shared that a well known luxury car manufacturer approached LP after seeing the quality of content at Label. “Since the brand had different cars positioned in a man’s life like LP has different apparel in a man’s life, it asked whether LP could create a visual story getting both the brands together. This gave us similar other opportunities to attract a new set of audience for LP,” shares Sridhar.
In another example Label did a story with the author William Dalrymple. The historian who has 22K followers on Twitter picked up the story and re-tweeted it. This gave a new audience to Label at zero cost.
Over the last year LP has invested in setting up a good team at the agency’s place, recruiting senior personnel and looking for content creation opportunities. Besides collaborations in the online world, Label has changed the way LP looks at collaborations in the offline space.
“Now whenever we go and discuss opportunities around an event our focus is no more on normal marketing discussion. We now focus on content for marketing associations. For example, last December, LP sponsored a TED talk series in Bombay and one of the key deliverables of the association was that LP gets a chance to create interesting videos with the speakers for the Label,” Sridhar informs on the way marketing associations are revolving around content rather than simple mentions.
Today we have realized the true value of social, states Sridhar. He believes that platforms like Label allow a brand to do a lot more things with social acting like a secondary medium to help the content to reach out to a larger audience.
LP’s focus today is clearly on investing in Label but there are challenges, which the brand has to overcome in the near future. One of them is introducing different formats of content for Label. Video will play a key role in content; in the next six months LP wishes to have bigger and interesting video stories in Label.
Mobile is also a key player for Label and while it has a mobile adaptive site, LP has invested in mobile discovery for Label’s content. For example LP has tied up with players who make their content visible to consumers, when they are sitting and browsing at the airport with the free Wifi zone or sitting at a mall and accessing internet.
“We have tied up at the Bombay airport so if you log into the Wifi then the first story you are most likely to see is a story from the Label. To us mobile is allowing us to deliver interesting shop content to our consumers when they are on the move and also when they have time to go through some of the articles,” informs Sridhar on the value mobile is driving to Label.
Mobile is also helping LP to build long term relationships with its customers. Sharing the flow of activities Sridhar states that all the print creatives are augmented which allows the customer to go to Label and read a particular article.
“At this point, we know it very well that the customer is a very involved one so the second time may be the next week the customer receives a notification about a latest content from the brand on his smartphone. Since we understand the customer is interested in the content, he receives notification every week and if he is not interested then he clears the notification without LP intruding in his space too much,” informs Sridhar.
LP isn’t focusing right now on mobile advertising but pushing itself on content. Going further LP might think of having a mobile app in the future.
Besides this LP is also working on ways to integrate its own loyalty program ‘Upper Crest’ with Label. There could be a possibility that the brand might create exclusive content for the Upper Crest members.
Revenue generation from Label isn’t on the cards right now since it is still an idea. According to Sridhar, down the lane, this idea of Label could lead to an offline set of deliverables for a consumer, may be a separate merchandise line or an offline brand by itself. So the possibilities for Label are endless, states the proud digital manager who thinks the magazine to be a strategic initiative for LP.
Sridhar accepts that ultimately LP would like to drive footfalls from Label but the initiative is also a brand building exercise which positions a brand in a certain way. LP has a very subtle way of linking Label with the brand and at this point of time the brand wishes to keep it the same way.
“Label for us has an extremely higher purpose in establishing and positioning the brand as a true lifestyle one and we don’t want the objective to become secondary in our push to sell more. So footfalls are almost a secondary objective towards launching a portal like Label,” adds Sridhar.
Abhishek also adds that today the content at Label is extremely aspirational thereby helping LP’s brand equity. Label has a consumer centric approach rather than a product centric one that has defined its success as of now