"Beware of Tetanus, even a small injury could be dangerous – so wear a shoe."
Are you confused by this line and wondering who does not wear a shoe?
Well, once upon a time in the Indian subcontinent, people were averse to wearing shoes, and this is the tagline of an advertisement of Bata which was published in November 1938 in Batanagar News. The advertisement stands as proof of how the 126-year old company contributed to people picking up habit of wearing sandals.
Back in the day, it was a ritual for young people to visit Bata stores before starting a new class in the school every year to buy a shiny pair of Black shoes or white converse shoes for the PT classes. People of another generation might remember the famous "Naughty Boy" shoe of Bata that was known for its durability, and the millennials might remember the tagline "First to Bata then to school" from the advertisements of Bata just a decade ago. From reliable school shoes to modern casuals, the journey of Bata is intertwined with the history of the life of the people of this country.
Bata initially started its journey back on August 24, 1894. The T. & A. Baťa Shoe Company was founded on August 24, 1894, in Zlín (Moravia, now the Czech Republic) by Tomáš Baťa, his brother Antonín and sister Anna, whose family had been cobblers for generations.
Bat'a (pronounced as Batya) succeeded in becoming one of Europe's leading shoe manufacturers in just a few decades, due to smart entrepreneurship, mechanisation and competitive pricing.
Also, it has now become the largest manufacturer and marketer of footwear in the world. Bata Shoe Organisation operates through four business units – Bata International, Bata Europe, Bata Latin America and Bata Canada. Bata's global business comprises of shoe factories, tanneries, engineering plants, quality control laboratories, product development and research centres.
Globally Bata serves over one million customers per day, employs more than 30,000 people, operates in more than 5,000 international retail outlets, manages retail presence in over 70 countries and runs 27 production facilities across 20 countries.
The impressive story of Bata and its everlasting legacy is the outcome of adopting and implementing an intricate marketing strategy, which became a worldwide phenomenon and has inspired several other models and is valid and widely adopted till date.
Since its inception, Bata offered an extensive collection of shoes, sandals and accessories while maintaining the quality of the product. People expect durability from bata as it is mostly known for it. And bata shoes are till now one of the most durable shoes available in the market at an affordable price.
This strategy of producing durable shoes at an affordable price is a hit in Bangladesh as rural citizens of the country look for durability and do not want to spend much at the same time. Bata's local manufacturing units, in this case, played a significant role. In fact, after price, the product is the strongest P in the marketing mix of Bata.
Price has always been the most vital marketing strategy for Bata. Bata uses psychological pricing as its pricing strategy. For instance, if you look closely, most of the prices of Bata products ends with number nine. Bata started this strategy way back, but they are continuing it.
Apart from this phenomenon, in general, Bata prices its shoes very moderately and keeps them affordable so that anyone can buy it easily. Even now there are rubber slippers of Bata available in the market that costs below Tk100.
Placement is another important aspect of the marketing strategy. You cannot keep the price low if you do not have a widespread distribution channel. You need to manufacture products locally for easy distribution also, to cut down the import duties and taxes. Also, Bata has a vast number of dealers points and retail shops throughout the country. As a result, people can easily access the products.
The strength of Bata is its rural distribution channel. Even in rural Bangladesh, showrooms and dealerships of Bata are available, which has helped promote the brand even further.
According to Bata, the company has a network of 261 retail outlets located strategically in different parts of the country. Additionally, 13 wholesale depots cover Bangladesh. Under these depots, 471 Registered Wholesale Dealers and 690 Dealer Support Program stores are operating.
Bata, since its inception, has not spend extensively in media or related public promotions. Instead, it believes in the brand equity to draw more customers to the showroom. And Bata's legacy to produce durable products helps a lot.
Though Bata from time to time has given advertisements in the media channels, it is mostly to introduce its new products or to circulate the discounts. As Bata spends less on promotional activities, it can keep the price of its products at a lower range.
However, with the presence of more prominent brands and cheap Chinese shoes in the country, the brand equity of Bata seems to be on a falling curve.
High end brands
Bata also features high end brands in their product line. Brands such as Marie Claire, Ambassador and Weinbrenner belongs to the high end range. Apart from these, Bata also imports Adidas shoes in Bangladesh.
Lost brands of Bata in Bangladesh
Brands are essential for any companies as it defines the behaviour of the consumers. Bata has thus created many brands and labels under its shed. However, once popular, many of these brands and tags do not exist in Bangladesh anymore. Brands such as Kingstreet, Hawaianas, Sandak are now lost. Sandak was once very popular amongst the women during the 80s.
Though there is no clear explanation why we cannot find these brands anymore in the country, however, the change in consumer behaviour and their ability to buy high end products migh be a reason.
Though Bata is an international shoe manufacturer company, its presence in Bangladesh for around 58 years has made it into a local company for the people of Bangladesh. It has been operating since 1962 and has two manufacturing plants in Bangladesh - one in Tongi and the other is situated in Dhamrai.