Wills Lifestyle is an apparel brand under the ITC umbrella. The company has undergone many changes over the years and now is simply known as WLS. WLS offers a large variety of clothing for both men and women. It claims to be a 100% natural company, meaning all its products are made of purely natural elements.
We shall learn more about that along with many other aspects of the company such as its marketing mix, competitors, marketing strategy, ads, marketing campaigns, and SWOT analysis in the Wills Lifestyle case study. Let’s get started by learning more about the company.
About Wills Lifestyle
Wills Lifestyle, a subsidiary of ITC, was founded in 1999 as Wills Sports and has undergone many transformations since then. The most recent and major one being its rebranding to WLS, a natural company. With this move, WLS became one of the first mainstream Indian apparel brands to embark on a journey of slowing down and reconnecting with nature.
In a world dominated by disposable clothes, fast fashion, and aggressive consumerism. This approach claimed to mark the brand’s stance in favour of timeless, high-quality, and multi-seasonal clothing, which is now gaining popularity among consumers. Today’s consumers are socially conscious and are increasingly aware and concerned about the sourcing and production methods used by companies. This is certainly a growing market the company thought it could tap.
Now that we understand the company’s business and origin, let’s jump into its marketing starting with its marketing mix.
Wills Lifestyle Marketing Mix
The marketing mix refers to a company’s range of activities and strategies for promoting its brand. A marketing mix is primarily concerned with an organization’s four pillars- product, price, place and promotion. Following is Will Lifestyle’s marketing mix:
Wills Lifestyle is an apparel retail company offering a variety of clothing options. WLS currently offers the following products:
- Men’s Clothing- Shirts, t-shirts, trousers, shorts, and jeans, jackets.
- Women’s Clothing- Tops, tunics, trousers, sweaters, jeans, skirts, blouses, and t-shirts, jackets.
Apart from these products, they also create a host of collections that are thematically curated and naturally produced. The company provides gifting and membership services as well, we talk about this under its promotional strategy later on in the blog.
Wills Lifestyle’s pricing strategy can be summed up in the following manner:
- Wills Lifestyle has positioned itself as a premium brand and thus charges high prices for its quality products.
- It also prices its products according to its market segment of natural and sustainable fashion. The clothing in this category is generally priced higher and WLS is thus able to charge a premium price from its customers.
- The price range for most of their pieces varies from around Rs.1200 to Rs.7000.
- Its pricing strategy is also developed while keeping in mind competitors’ pricing.
Place & Distribution Strategy
- Wills lifestyle has multiple stores across many cities such as Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore, Agra, etc.
- Wills Lifestyle sells through a series of speciality stores and exclusive stores in high-end malls and shopping complexes. This helps them reach their target audience that is mainly the urban population that frequently visits these malls since they offer premium-priced products.
- The exclusive Wills Lifestyle stores reflect the premium brand value that it wants to transmit to customers. Wanting to attract informed buyers who look for quality, unique designs and are willing to pay the additional premium.
- They also sell their products online, through their official website and others like Myntra, Flipkart, Ajio, etc.
- Wills Lifestyle gift cards are called “Occasions” and are available in various denominations ranging from Rs 250 to Rs 5000. These can be used on various occasions for gifting, which in turn helps increase brand awareness and customer base.
- They have a Club ITC reward system where one accumulates points upon staying at any of the ITC hotels, or purchasing Will Lifestyle clothes. These points can be later redeemed for various rewards and incentives. This encourages sales and enhances brand recognition for various ITC subsidiaries at once.
- Their physical stores have been known to provide heavy discounts and offers. Such sales promotions are widely used to promote and encourage customers to shop more.
- The company also promotes itself through creative and visually appealing advertisements that emphasise upon quality. They depict consumers in their apparel in an aspirational manner, wanting to communicate the premium nature of their products.
This concludes the marketing mix of Wills Lifestyle, detailing each strategy and what it aims to achieve. Let us now quickly take a look at the company’s competitors.
Wills Lifestyle Competitors Analysis
Wills Lifestyle has had numerous competitors over the years. This is owing to the sheer number of players in the apparel retailing industry. The industry is continuously changing and so are consumers’ desires, leading to constant competition and new entrants. Some of Wills Lifestyle’s major competitors, thus, till date are as follows:
- Shoppers Stop
- Allen Solly
- Indian terrain
- Louis Phillipe
- Van Heusen
Amongst all of these though, Shoppers Stop is seen as one of its top competitors. Shoppers Stop was founded in Mumbai, Maharashtra in 1991. The company also retails clothing and accessories, targeting a very similar audience as Will’s Lifestyle. Although these were the times a while ago since Shoppers Stop generates $218M more revenue than Will’s Lifestyle today. Shoppers Stop has been able to maintain and defend its position while Wills, in comparison has seemed to descend the spotlight especially in the minds of the consumers.
This reflects in their sales volumes despite their rebranding and rigorous marketing efforts of as late as 2018. The company has lesser product variety, store locations and a less active digital presence as compared to Shoppers Stop presently. If Wills Lifestyle wants to revive its peak position in the industry, it needs to take heavy measures to improve and rework its lagging areas. And then build a competitive edge that will allow it to retain the positioning.
Let us now discuss the company’s existing marketing strategies so far in the next segment of the blog.
Wills Lifestyle Marketing Strategy
In this section of the blog, we shall briefly discuss Will’s Lifestyle’s STP i.e. their segmentation, targeting and positioning. Wills lifestyle’s target market can be defined as people looking to find premium quality clothes and ones that don’t mind spending a little extra money to find products that align with their needs and values. Will’s Lifestyle positions itself as a premium high street brand, one that is sustainable and creates all-natural products.
Their buyer profile can thus be classified as follows:
- People trying to find smart and fashionable clothes for each occasion.
- Fashion-conscious people.
- Environment-conscious people
- Young executives
Their STP, thus, gives us an insight into the market they wish to capture. One major way companies accomplish that is by carrying out innovative marketing campaigns. Let’s see how Wills Lifestyle has managed to do that.
Wills Lifestyle Marketing/Ad Campaigns
Consumer goods companies, especially clothing retail businesses largely use marketing campaigns and creative advertisements to display their products and communicate the brand image to the audience. Wills Lifestyle has conducted various campaigns over its long-standing existence in the industry. We shall discuss some of its most memorable ones in this section.
This was one of Wills Lifestyles’ most memorable campaigns. The company fused technology and fashion, introducing the most unique and innovative way to showcase its Autumn-Winter collection Live from the runway, giving mannequins a break. The campaign’s main goal was to show off the festive collection in an exclusive and unique way to their target audience, as well as to highlight their technology-enabled marketing by using holograms instead of traditional mannequins. The holograms as opposed to the usual dummies intrigued window shoppers and made them curious to learn more about the brand. This helped them achieve their goal of standing out and reeling in customers. The campaign’s execution was documented on all of their social media pages.
ITC Wills Lifestyle’s digital marketing agency, Social Kinnect’s Delhi team, conceptualised and implemented the campaign #InLoveWithSanganer. Wills Lifestyle and Social Kinnect collaborated on a new story-telling technique to engage with their audience on social media. Sanganer is a town in Rajasthan known for being the home of the Sanganeri hand-block printing technique, being a hub for craft workshops. ITC Wills Lifestyle’s Sanganer Collection launched with these authentic hand-block prints, exploring the 500-year-old art with a contemporary take.
Wills Lifestyle collaborated with Radhika Apte and lifestyle influencers like Sarang Patil, Riaan George, Varun Verma, and Manav Chhabra for the Sanganer Collection. The brand successfully used digital media platforms to raise awareness for the collection and tell the Sanganer tale. With the launch of the Sanganer Collection, the brand’s social media accounts exploded, with interactions up to seven times higher and reach and views up to five times higher. It was certainly a great way to market its newest collection and increase brand recognition.
Lastly, with all the research we conducted and information that we gathered, we conducted a SWOT analysis for Will’s Lifestyle, to sum up their position and functions.
SWOT Analysis of Wills Lifestyle
A company’s SWOT analysis identifies its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, all of which can contribute to its deterioration or upliftment. It is a method of strategic planning that aids in determining a company’s position.
Following is the SWOT analysis of Will’s Lifestyle:
- Differentiated offerings
- Focus on sustainability
- Strong backing of the parent company, ITC.
- Customer loyalty programmes and memberships
- Technology embracing company
- The company has not captured the market well, or to its maximum potential.
- Low brand awareness
- Lacks customer loyalty
- Increased e-retail presence
- Expansion of product portfolio
- Poor stock availability and inventory management
- Increasing competition in the segment, leading to losing the edge on brand differentiation.
- E-commerce giants like Amazon and Flipkart offering a variety of products at significantly lower prices
- History of losses leading to rumours of the brand shutting down
The company needs to heavily work on the weaknesses and threats mentioned above to be able to come back to its golden period. There are many opportunities and re-marketing techniques available today that have enabled a lot of brands to re-structure and bank on their market niche once again.
Wills Lifestyle has been around for quite a while and was once at the accomplished position it aimed for. The company has tried many different strategies regularly, such as re-branding, product differentiating, collaborating with agencies of repute, trying the latest marketing trends and tools, to name a few. But in the recent past, it has not been performing well and continues to shadow off from the consumers’ minds.
Their previous marketing campaigns and strategies were fairly effective in increasing brand awareness and calling consumers’ to experience their offerings. Their marketing mix showed all signs of well planned retail strategies and production too. But with progressing times and extreme competition, especially in the form of easily accessible e-commerce apparel, the company’s seems to be moving downwards.
If Will’s Lifestyle wants to revive its once at-peak position, it needs to go full-throttle with its business and marketing efforts that are known to work for the company.
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