Anima Sana In Corpore Sano, meaning ‘A Sound Mind in a Sound Body’ is an old Latin phrase from which ASICS is derived and the fundamental platform on which the brand still stands, the company’s profile says. Rajat Khurana, managing director, ASICS India explains that even before the brand established its distribution channels in India, it made sure to have a presence in the country’s running/marathon circuits.
Founded by Kihachiro Onitsuka in 1949, the brand has a long heritage in sports based on the founding philosophy of the company. It operates on the belief that sport has the power to change lives. It launched in India in 2015, and has since then aimed to highlight this brand message through its products, marketing campaigns and collaborations. Part of this has been achieved by partnering with athletes across the spectrum of sports with most of them already representing India at various events.
“Our association with the Mumbai Marathon for over 10 years has demonstrated our commitment towards the sport of Running and we continue to engage with the runners in India to improve our product offerings accordingly,” he adds.
Mostly recently, it launched the joy of Running campaign which marks a national call for people to get inspired to run without a finish line and propagate this habit if not for anything else, for the joy of running itself. The brand aims to promote this ideology by engaging with their in-house coaches, fitness influencers and nutrition experts of the ASICS Running Club in different cities across India.
This holistic approach to sports marketing has also meant that the brand has been able to rope in up and coming faces from India’s growing non-cricket sports portfolio, along with newcomers on the cricket field.
“ASICS takes great pride in providing best in class products for professional athletes across the world. We aim to show this commitment in India too where all sports verticals and not just cricket are gaining massive popularity. Therefore, we are always at the forefront in supporting athletes from all fields and this is evident in our signings of over 10 athletes this year itself,” Khurana says. The brand has signed on athletes like Rohan Bopanna (tennis), Jinson Johnson (athletics), T Gopi (atheletics), Sakshi Malik (wrestling), and Bajrang Punia (wrestling) this year. Earlier, it roped in Karman Kaur Thandi (tennis), and pacer Bhuvaneshwar Kumar.
Apart from engaging the sports eco-system, the brand also has a spate of consumer facing initiatives that it relies on to gain brand recall, and salience in the Indian market. “Our Sports marketing initiatives help establish our philosophy of a ‘sound mind in a sound body’ through our leading associations with Running events in Mumbai and Bengaluru. We have also brought our most innovative FOOT ID analysis to India in our retail stores which provide our consumers with first hand knowledge of their GAIT and hence take informed decisions regarding their footwear purchase. We are now looking to foray into grass roots activation in sports like Tennis and Cricket to further improve the consumers experience of the brand,” Khurana informs.
Going into 2020, the brand has much to look forward to on the engagement front. The Olympics take place on ASICS’ home turf next year, and the brand hopes to make the most of the opportunity. Khurana says that the brand will be heavily invested in the event, supporting athletes from around the world, including India. While it not an official sponsor of Tokyo Olympics 2020, it has different initiatives in various global markets, which it will amp up as the event draws closer.
“We want to be sure that our fans and consumers have a greater insight of how the brand functions and the innovative technologies involved in producing our marquee products. We are working on our “I MOVE ME” campaign for the next year which shall give a strong message to our consumers on a Global scale,” he adds.
Recognizing the need to cater to the evolving nature of the sports apparel adjacent category, ASICS recently also announced the launch of its new athleisure range. The brand brought on board actor Tiger Shroff, for what it calls its ‘Sportstyle’ offering.
Khurana explains that brands have witnessed a shift in the Indian fashion scenario towards comfortable yet stylish clothing which has resulted in the rise of the athleisure category. Add to that the fact that people are also getting conscious about fitness, and the kind of top to bottom look they want to sport. “This amalgamation of function and fashion has given rise to ASICS Sportstyle globally and India is no different,” he says.
The brand will mobilize its network of 41 stores across 27 cities in India to market the new offering. ASICS’ venture into the category however comes after many of its peers, and some celebrity led brands have already entered the market. It could prove to be an uphill task for the brand to make a mark in the category, and may have to devise a dedicated marketing strategy to break the clutter, as it did in its core category.
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