Starting from a magazine, Marie Claire has set benchmarks while expanding to various segments, lifestyle being one of them. The brand is looking to India as a potential market and hence, has appointed Bradford License India as its licensing agent for India operations. In a conversation with License India, Fabrice Taupin, Vice President – Licensing, Marie Claire Group talked about the journey of the brand from glossy pages to lifestyle, the expansion plans through licensing in India and the preferred markets for Marie Claire.
From magazine to a brand in various verticals, how has been the transition?
The Marie Claire brand is a very famous magazine worldwide talking to women. We have 36 international editions across the world. Besides, the magazine business, we also started a licensing program in 1982 in Japan, when we first launched the Marie Claire magazine. Since then, we have developed a very big programme in Japan working with 35 different companies and making over 50 different products.
In Japan, these products not only cover women’s wear and accessories, but also men’s wear and men’s accessories as well as the kids. We have various programmes in home decorations and tableware as well as furniture for example. And we have big extension plans in cosmetics, skincare, makeup, perfume.
We are also thinking about the new development in servicing areas such as Marie Claire Spa or hair salon or men’s saloon for example, or Marie Claire café or wine bar.
What innovative categories are you looking at and who are the target groups?
As a magazine, Marie Claire is really close to women and we follow the desires of women and their well being is a very important part of that. And we believe we can, with the knowledge we have from around the world, we can bring special treatment and new ways of relaxing and this is why we have been recently thinking about making the concept of spa to be more technical like what we call Thalassotherapy which is using sea water within hotel complex.
What special do you do to derive the DNA of women into women centric categories?
Well, we have around 14 million readers, women readers around the world and we communicate with them on monthly basis. So, we think that we know a lot about the women around the world. Using this information into bringing modern products, updated products with good quality and reasonable price, this is what we are doing at Marie Claire.
Are geographical boundaries and distinct culture a challenge?
This is the advantage of licensing that we are working with local companies who also understand the differences in terms of cultures, because you can have colour, perception which would be different in different areas of the countries, but also sizing and shapes can be different. We already have this situation in China because of big differences in women’s shape and culture in north, which is close to Russia to the south of China. I think this would be the same in India.
You took time to enter Indian markets. Why is it so?
Well, we took time to come to India. The first important thing for us was to find an Indian partner who can understand the DNA of the brand and represent Marie Claire efficiently in India. Then we have decided to work with Bradford Company. Thanks to our partner Bradford, that we are able to launch the first Marie Claire products which will be women’s wear and also lingerie.
What are the strategies to address the Indian women? Will you be customising the products as per the market?
What is important is that we at Marie Claire know the DNA and brand concept which we are bringing to the Indian market. Of course, we are a French western brand, but through licensing and through local partners, we want to adopt the French style to the taste of the Indian women because again, there are control differences. What is important is to keep the flavour of the brand through the design, because the design will be coming from our designers in France to give a French touch, a western touch to the Marie Claire partner.
What were the initial challenges while coming to India
The first challenge for me was to really understand the different levels of retail and where we could position the brand keeping the value of Marie Claire and targeting the right women. I was greatly helped by the Bradford team in this effort. So now we have a clear idea of what we should be doing.
What is your preference about retail – online or offline?
Well eCommerce, I heard there are about six players. So, the goal is to make six shops, trying to recruit all the licensees, current and future licensees under Marie Claire brand and work with the major players. As for offline retail, I think the shopping centres are interesting for us and also distributors like Shoppers Stop, Lifestyle and Pantaloons for example, will be right target for Marie Claire.
Of course, the mall is more responding to international standards and it is important for a brand like Marie Claire to be there. But we are not ruling out the high streets.