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Virtual assistant, personalisation, shop layout - Lifestyle is ticking all the right boxes

Lifestyle, part of Dubai-based retail and hospitality conglomerate The Landmark Group, celebrates its 20th anniversary this April by introducing a month long 20-20 bash. The brand has announced a slew of attractive offers across categories that customers can enjoy every weekend of April. 

Lifestyle began its journey in Chennai and has expanded to over 44 cities in the past 20 years. In those years, the company has been the recipient of numerous awards and accolades, including Most Admired Fashion Retail Destination of the Year at Images Fashion Awards for 5 consecutive years; and No. 1 India’s Best Company to Work for in the retail industry for 2 consecutive years, among others. 

“This is a remarkable milestone for us!” exclaimed Vasanth Kumar, Managing Director, Lifestyle International, adding, “Completing two decades of successful operations in the country, we feel humbled by the support we’ve received from our customers who have been a critical part of this incredible journey. We, therefore, are dedicating the whole month of April to our customers and inviting them to enjoy great offers every weekend on our new collection.” 

Bollywood Actor Tiger Shroff, who inaugurated the event in Mumbai announcing their attractive offers to customers, said, “Lifestyle is a brand that has been a part of the fashion retail story for over two decades in the country. I love their fashion offering, especially denim wear brand Forca. I am happy to be here for this significant moment and wish them many more years of similar success.” 

In conversation with Adgully, Srinivas Rao, Senior Vice President - Marketing, Lifestyle, speaks about the brand’s journey in the past 20 years and its commitment to serve the customer wherever they may be present. 

Rao has over 20 years of experience in Sales and Marketing across FMCG, Consumer Durables and Retail industries, including more than 10 years at Lifestyle. He is an integral part of Lifestyle’s growth, contributing immensely in establishing Lifestyle as a youthful brand in the country besides building several brands such as Ginger, Forca and Melange, among others. He has a keen interest in consumer behaviour, data analytics and the intricate nuances of content marketing. 

How do you view Lifestyle’s 20-year journey in India?
Today, Lifestyle has about 77 stores across 44 cities. We have an online presence – lifestylestores.com – delivering to about 26,000 pin codes. The journey has been spectacular, to say the least, largely because over the last 20 years we have been able to establish Lifestyle as a youthful and trendy brand. We’ve been able to consistently expand. We have been able to do well across geographies in the country, be it north, south, west, east or Tier 1, 2, 3. We have been able to understand Indian consumer sensibilities and we’ve been able to adapt and deliver fashion to the taste and preferences of the Indian customer. 

What’s really important is that we have evolved with the market, evolved with the customer. Today, Lifestyle is really a true omnichannel brand. We have developed omnichannel capabilities to serve the omnichannel customer. We have been able to serve our customers through all the initiatives we have pioneered until now. 

When did you launch your online store?
Our online store launched in 2017. It has kind of stabilised and is doing well for us at this point in time. 

How many brands are you associated with and what are the markets you are targeting?
Lifestyle has always been present across Tier 1, 2 and 3 cities. Even in the first phase we launched stores in many smaller cities, including Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Pune, and then went into cities like Vijaywada, Trichi, and Coimbatore. So, Lifestyle has been present across markets. We sell above 250 national and international brands across apparel, footwear, watches, fragrances, and kids wear. Of these 250 brands, 9 are our own or franchise brands. They are either brands that we have developed in-house or ones that we have franchised in India. Together, they constitute about 30 per cent of our topline and they are a significant part of our overall mix. 

What has been the YoY growth of the brand?
Our compounded growth in the last 5 years in this region has been about 15 per cent. We have added about 9-10 stores in the last financial year. This year, we plan to add another 10 stores. 

How do you plan to compete against e-tailers?
Our focus is much more on the customer. As the customer is omnichannel, we need to serve the omnichannel customer. Our focus is never on the competition. Our most important focus right now is to strengthen our omnichannel capabilities. We are using technology to serve our customers better in the store. One way is by using a Virtual Assistant, which we have launched in Chennai and Pune, where you can actually use your mobile and get a lot of style recommendations. That’s the technology that we are investing in. We are also investing in personalisation. We analyse data and are able to deliver personalisation either through the Lifestyle Buddy, our Virtual Shopping Assistant, or through communication such as email or SMS to our customers. 

As a retailer, most of the time you find your competitor right next to you. What differentiation can you bring then to distinguish your brand?
When it comes to differentiators, there are multiple. Our entire business philosophy of curating merchandise and ensuring that the merchandise is relevant to the market we are operating in, is a big differentiator. Another is the layout of our stores, which help customers navigate easily.

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