A unique business proposition is the lifeblood of any brand that wants to make its presence felt. Boundaries of customer cohorts are overlapping faster than we realize, as users with exposure to similar facilities, have similar needs. Health has become one such fundamental aspect in the daily lives of young India and HRX, since inception in 2013, has been diversifying from athleisure clothing to a spectrum of verticals that inspire people to be their best selves.
Beyond usual product launches, HRX decided to strategically collaborate with Baccarose, a globally renowned fragrance brand. The result is a successful category of HRX FRAGRANCE that is leaping fast towards the top priority of Indian fitness connoisseurs today.
Spotting Opportunity with Perfumery for Everyday Athletes
When asked how does athleisure gel with perfumery, Pallavi Barman – Business Head at HRX, shares the core concept of locker room strategy, which fuels product development bottom-up. Sports or athleisure brands predominantly cater to footwear or apparel. But HRX has been different since the start, projecting itself as a holistic fitness brand.
“When we saw the scope for value addition in sports, fitness, and lifestyle, we zeroed in on our core locker-room strategy. Picturise yourself after a swim, sport, or workout session. You’ll need towel, clothes, innerwear, fragrance, shower gel, cream, and fragrance or deodorant before stepping out,” she says. HRX found a scope for category diversification that aligns with their locker room strategy. Thus, HRX FRAGRANCE was crafted by Baccarose Perfumes that serve everyday athletes better.
Why Baccarose? It’s because valuable partnerships thrive on existing market value, manufacturing muscle, brand recall, and most importantly, a shared vision to make the most out of a particular user base. Baccarose resonated with the conformity and legacy of HRX in terms of reach, distribution muscle, and an elaborate product repertoire from entry to premium levels. What followed is rigorous research and development by both the players to create a superior mix in packaging, artwork, quality and price point. Together, HRX and Baccarose created a niche for its deodorants and Eau De Toilettes in terms of their touch-and-feel factor.
For a homegrown brand relying heavily on digital platforms and e-tailers, selling a sensitive product such as fragrance posed its own challenges on value and logistics. HRX FRAGRANCE demanded a very strong offline presence, where consumers get to try the product. Even in offline, it was a conscious call to choose certain distribution channels such as Shoppers Stop, Health & Glow, Lifestyle, and Central to introduce the product with the right in-store experience. The product also underwent significant change in appearance with the cans being broader than peer categories.
Offline worked for HRX FRAGRANCE, with the company getting reorders within a month of launch and Southern markets responding well. The next step is to bring it online where one can order boxes of deodorants, EDTs, or combos.
Building the HRX Tribe
Pallavi explains how building a community for HRX involved motivation at the heart of every communication. To tap into the pulse of their prospective audience, the brand decided to de-clutter the pre-existing segregations in the world of fitness, with special attention to the evolving Indian fitness landscape.
“Although fitness was gaining ground in our country, India took to fitness seriously post-pandemic. Looking at this trend, we identified a segment who are into athletic pursuit, sprinting, running, and racing. Studying that segment, we found that a large part of Indian fitness enthusiasts is still in the beginner to intermediate athletic zone, as compared to western countries. So, we started addressing the bottom and intermediary levels of the pyramid, meaning the everyday athletes,” she opines.
With HRX tribe, the brand created a clarion call to anyone identifying as everyday athlete, who had to qualify two basic standards. One is showing up to a particular fitness routine, applying to the beginner level. The second is sustained discipline to manage that routine, for the intermediary level. Thereafter, every category HRX forayed into started talking this language to the target audience, appealing to them and diminishing the entry barriers for both these levels.
“For instance, we do sportswear and gear in clothing, but not for professional athletes. We understand that getting into a physically demanding activity comes with a lot of baggage and demand for motivation. So, we minimize those entry barriers for our customers, be it for our smart wearables or bicycles or accessories,” Pallavi maintains.
HRX vouches for its closely-knit group of super-users, right from actor and co-owner Hrithik Roshan at the macro level, to users and influencers at the community level. “At a national level, we have Hrithik Roshan, who inspires people with his journey and stresses on the importance of fitness through hard work. At the ground level, there exists multiple communities as touch-points where the super-users coordinate with customers closely. We train with them, run with them, work out and meet very often. Over time, we have built a strong sense of belonging with the community. Some of our super-users also turn out to be influencers of the brand,” she says.
Round-the-clock Product Analyses by Super Users
In the athleisure space, it’s mandatory to track durability and dynamics of the product regularly. HRX deputes its super users to use the products, inculcate their findings, and innovate. In case of footwear, the brand closely monitors the changing dynamics of footwear after every 200-500 km run through laboratory tests. Everything from vanity to functionality matters, which reflects in the intuitive product design of the vests that accentuate the collar bone area for a better look overall. “Functionally, we discuss how breathable the fabric of the vest should be. When women run, the transparency of their vests change due to sweating, which is why fabric grammage is very important. Us super-users bring our feedback to the table for analyses,” Pallavi says.
Omnichannel Approach and Marketing
The brand inaugurated its first exclusive offline touchpoint with a boutique store at Phoenix Market City in Bengaluru. This puts HRX in an advantageous position in terms of its omnichannel journey. At times when brands go the D2C or e-commerce way, and then take the experience offline, HRX enjoys strong customer recall in a plethora of verticals already accessible offline or online since years. Therefore, it becomes easy for the brand to integrate the offerings with a grand experience at the boutique store. One can walk in, shop offline or browse through an online catalogue and shop online, having tried out the products offline, thus enjoying an omnichannel salesforce.
In terms of marketing, HRX checks all boxes from ATL campaigns to on YouTube, TV, and billboards. Word-of-mouth promotion works effectively in the community level through the insights and recommendations of key opinion makers and super-users. “We get a lot of user-generated content. People have sold their content to us and we have made beautiful films, winning awards on YouTube and many other platforms,” Pallavi says.
Growth Targets for 2023
At present, the brand has reached a 920-crore revenue and 2023, which marks the 10th year of HRX, aims at a 1000 CR+ revenue mark. In terms of market acquisition, the brand has built a focus on Middle East and several other neighbouring countries. “As far as India is concerned, the idea is to touch 1.5 billion lives across categories,” Pallavi signs off.