In a journey spanning over 96 years, Bata Thailand, a household name synonymous with quality footwear, has undergone a remarkable transformation to rejuvenate its brand image and appeal. The heritage brand, deeply rooted in providing affordable and reliable footwear, faced the challenge of being associated primarily with mature-age consumers. Recognising the need to align with contemporary tastes and market dynamics, Bata Thailand embarked on an ambitious venture – the “Surpr
;Surprisingly Bata” campaign. With a focus on the digital landscape, Bata Thailand strategically harnessed the power of social media, employing influencers to generate perception-altering content on digital platforms. Simultaneously, the brand introduced a new concept in its stores, physically manifesting the shift in its identity. In response to changing shopping behaviours influenced by the pandemic, the brand invested in digital capabilities, leveraging artificial intelligence and automation to offer personalised recommendations to online shoppers. To gain deeper insights into this transformative journey, we spoke with Wilasinee Parnurat, the country manager and managing director of Bata Thailand. The story so far “You should not be surprised to hear that Bata is often perceived as a local brand across various countries and we actually are proud of ourselves for being a global brand with a local presence,” Parnurat told Inside Retail. She went on to say that the company has a way of working that allows the team in each of the operating companies in each market to create high relevancy and connection and respond quickly to the needs and wants of local consumers while still respecting global practices and standards. “For example, at retail stores, we have a global guideline and frame to ensure the consistency of the brand ID and tone of voice, but the local team can also make some necessary adjustments to deliver the best consumer experience and ensure the relevancy,” she said. Balancing nostalgia and modernity Bata was founded on September 21, 1894, in what is now known as the Czech Republic, and has a retail presence in more than 70 countries. It has always been known as a trusted provider of high-quality footwear to a wide range of consumers, particularly renowned for its school shoes and comfortable sandals. With an accessible price point and wide distribution footprint, Bata’s name has long been well-established among APAC consumers. “Nevertheless, the brand recognises the need to address challenges in its perception and brand image to associate only amongst the mature consumers and is now required to evolve to be in tune more in times and consumers shift,” Parnurat said. She went on to say that this included crafting communications with a sharper positioning, enhancing its product portfolio and defining a new consumer journey to ensure the best experience across touchpoints. “We leverage on our uniqueness – being the icon that evokes a strong sense of nostalgia and the long relationship between Bata and its existing consumers – and make it meaningful and inspiring to younger audiences,” she added. On ground strategies According to Parnurat, after the pandemic, the company recognised that almost all of its stores needed enhancements and renovations, with a refresh of furniture, ambient improvements and a refreshed take on visual merchandising. “The SAM project (Store as Media) was kicked off in late 2022 to further improve the in-store communication and positioning storytelling, along with the re-merchandising to optimise a product range to suit each of the shopper’s profiles per each of the stores,” she noted. A brand transformation message was also carried out in every free-standing store. “We also started integrating omnichannel tools such as the in-store sales (ISS) which is the platform that allows shoppers to get shoes that might be out of stock. The tool can locate stocks in real time and expedite the shipment of the item directly to the shopper’s home address,” she stressed. This omnichannel platform is powered by a centralised inventory management automation tool. Parnurat added that this platform has now become one of the key growth drivers and has uplifted the total experience for shoppers in Thailand. Social media and influencers Social media and online content platforms are part and parcel of any company’s marketing strategy. For Bata, one of the priorities was to recruit younger consumers, so its communication strategy had to evolve accordingly. Parnurat said influencer marketing was high on the agenda, and the critical step was to select the right KOLs to partner with. They had to be aligned with the brand voice, relevant and inspire the target audience. Moreover, she said they had to be authentic to ensure high engagement rates. “The pandemic has accelerated digital transformation in the marketing arena, and this has led consumers and businesses to radically rethink behaviours and strategies in the online marketplace,” she said. This is why Bata had to invest in more digitally transformed marketing technologies, high-performance merchandising tools and machine-learning software to optimise its inventory management too. “With a strong base of existing fans and the constant increase in new customers, retention is one of our important KPIs. We have used technology and automation tools to boost the efficiency of our CRM activities to get clearer insights and develop better consumer journeys for each of our shopper segments,” she concluded.