Global sportswear brand Puma on Wednesday launched Pulse XT, a fitness shoe exclusively designed for women. Having gained huge popularity overseas, Pulse XT - priced between Rs 5,499 and Rs 5,999 - is touted to be Puma’s ‘best foot forward’ in the space of women’s fitness and training. “Pulse XT is extremely light-weight and flexible. It can be worn for indoor as well as outdoor activities, and that is its USP,” Abhishek Ganguly, MD Puma India, told Forbes India on the sidelines of the launch.
Puma has also roped in actress Jacqueline Fernandez as its training ambassador. “Puma is a brand I wear for my regular workouts. As an avid runner, basketball and badminton player and Zumba enthusiast, I find Pulse XT just right for my training needs,” said Jacqueline. The company believes the actress is the “natural choice” for its products as she is glamorous as well as a dedicated sportsperson.
Fitness is the buzzword today and Puma has been quick to harness this trend into sales. “In today’s time, there is an increasing interest in women’s training. Pulse XT is a versatile shoe meant for all kinds of workouts,” said celebrity fitness trainer Eefa Shrof. “Pulse XT is great value for money.”
Pulse XT comes with Puma’s EverTrain Footbed technology that makes it more resilient. It is a stable, comfortable and technology-oriented product that has been engineered to fit all uses. “As more and more people start getting into fitness training, they need to realise that it is extremely important to use the right footwear. A fitter India is a better India,” said Ganguly.
Puma has recently increased its focus on the women’s fitness category because it believes more women are entering the fitness space than men. Pulse XT is designed exclusively for women as there is a need for a women-centric product to cater to their varied fitness needs. Ganguly said the company aims to target those women who want to be fit while still looking fashionable. Pulse XT caters to the ‘fashion’ aspect by offering a varied colour palette – from bright to subtle.
The company’s women’s fitness and training segment growth over the last year has been about 33 percent. Ganguly said that with the launch of Pulse XT, he expects to end the year with over 50 percent market chunk in the women’s fitness category. Puma has grown 13 percent in like to like stores since 2014. While most competitors are concentrating on online growth, Puma says it will continue its expansion via physical stores. At present, Puma has 340 stores in 115 cities and more are on the anvil.
“We have a multi-channel approach in this market. Puma is one of the biggest brands online. Offline, there are various channels of distribution: Exclusive stores, partnership stores and multi-brand sports outlets. It depends on the product category,” said Ganguly. He believes that there is a need for channel management, but one need not come at the cost of the other. Puma’s user base is concentrated in Delhi, Bengaluru and Mumbai. But it has good sales in tier II and tier III cities and towns, according to Ganguly.
The touch, feel and trial aspect is a very important element of this product and hence, it will be sold primarily via Puma’s exclusive stores. Puma’s association with Arsenal has helped boost its sales in the Indian market, “Outside the UK, Arsenal has the largest Facebook fan base in India,” Ganguly told Forbes India.With multiple launches, celebrity ambassadors like Jacqueline and actress Lisa Haydon, and its association with Arsenal and Indian Super League, Puma is bullish about the Indian market. “We have planned a very aggressive autumn and winter and will continue to launch global innovative technology-oriented products suitable for India,” said Ganguly. “You will see a lot more of us.”