Reebok India claims marketing revamp has worked

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BOMBAY -- Reebok India Co., a troubled subsidiary of U.S. athletic footwear and apparel marketer Reebok International, will break even in the next fiscal year, according to a projection by Muktesh Pant, CEO of Reebok India.

The company launched in the subcontinent over two years ago as a joint venture 80% owned by the U.S. marketer and 20% by New Delhi-based footwear maker Phoenix Overseas.

Lured by India's burgeoning middle class, Reebok entered the market with a $5m investment to market big-ticket footwear priced upwards of $56 a pair. But marked reluctance by local consumers to pay such high prices led the marketer to drastically alter its pricing and marketing strategies.

Part of Reebok's turnaround strategy includes a new focus on lower-priced footwear ranging from $28 to $42 and a wider distribution network. International rivals such as Beaverton, Oregon-based Nike and Germany's Adidas, both of whom have local subsidiaries, have also revised their strategies for India after suffering a similar fate to Reebok.

Chaitra Leo Burnett, New Delhi, handles Reebok India and McCann-Erickson India, New Delhi, has the Nike account.

Pant, a former PepsiCo executive, admits the market for premium athletic footwear in India is not very encouraging, however. Reebok sold only 250,000 pairs in India for the year to March 31, 1997, compared with the 300,000 footwear pairs sold each day worldwide by Reebok companies.

Copyright August 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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