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Brands unveil thrust on masks

Some stores have stocked up on the accessories while others promise an early arrival
Rows of masks on display at the Camac Street store on Wednesday.

Debraj Mitra   |   Calcutta   |   Published 27.05.20, 09:53 PM

The malls are shut but a handful of standalone apparel stores that have opened in the city are seeing only a few customers throughout the day.

Most of the people walking in have one requirement — a mask.

One such store on Camac Street has stocked up masks. Others are telling walk-in customers that masks should reach them within a few days.

Online order of masks on e-commerce platforms is on the rise, thanks to promotional messages and videos from popular brands to customers. Advertisers and marketers said the thrust shows leading brands are gearing up for life with the novel coronavirus and finding ways to leverage the crisis.

The Camac Street store of a popular brand of clothes, backpacks, shoes and other outdoor accessories had a large promotional sticker about newly arrived masks pasted on the glass door at the entrance.

Their USP: “Anti-pollution, anti-trust and anti-bacterial”, the poster said. Each mask could be used till “30 gentle washes”, said Manav Ravi, a sales associate at the store, that had reopened in the first week of May.

The masks, that came in small, medium and large sizes, cost Rs 200 apiece.

The first lot of masks, from the production unit in Bangalore, arrived within a couple of days of the reopening. On Monday, The Telegraph saw a series of cartons stacked up at two corners of the store, all fresh arrivals. Each carton had 100 masks. There were 70 cartons, said Ravi.

“We have been selling around 10 masks every day,” he said.

Awinash Kumar, who handles the backend operations of a retail store in the vicinity, was one of the buyers on Monday. “There is a trust associated with branded products. Branded masks are no different. I am ready to pay more if I know my mask is better than local stuff,” said Kumar.

A few metres away, a men’s apparel store on Shakespeare Sarani was waiting for the arrival of masks from Bangalore.

Two hundred packs, each with five masks, left Bangalore by road on May 20 and is supposed to reach here before this weekend, said Kunal Kapasi, the store manager.

The masks should be on the shelves from next week, he said. The brand is focussing on the mask as an “essential commodity” and had kept a “very competitive price”, added Kapasi.

A pack of reusable five masks of different colours will cost Rs 599.

Most stores are yet to get stocks but e-commerce platforms are selling masks. Arunava Majumder, who works in the marketing division of an online budget hotel aggregator, has just ordered a pack of five masks of the same brand whose store this newspaper visited on Shakespeare Sarani.

“I will have to start meeting prospective clients very soon (post-lockdown) and make pitches. I think a branded mask will make the same impression that a branded shirt does,” he said.

Sayantan Guha, who works in the retail assets division of a private bank, ordered a pack of five masks from another apparel brand, known for its signature “Friday dressing”. Guha said he was very impressed by a short promotional video that he got from a friend who works with the brand.

“The lockdown has crippled many apparel brands. They are now trying to leverage the Covid-19 crisis to advantage. They are trying to find ways to monetise it,” said Arunabho Sen, an advertising professional based in Bangalore, who has worked with JWT India and MullenLowe Lintas Group.

“Big players have already invested a lot in research to find ways of marketing masks. Breathing comfort, highlighting pores in the mask, is one outcome of it,” said Sen, who now looks after the marketing and promotionals of an online gaming start-up.

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