Anupama Sajeet
Dec 07, 2023

Entertainment and fashion make for a good marriage: Flipkart's Abhishek Maloo on 'The Archies' collaboration

Flipkart Fashion's senior director, customer, growth, marketing and operations, Abhishek Maloo, shares the thought behind the special collaboration with the upcoming Netflix film, and why he considers fashion as a great equaliser on a platform that believes in democratising fashion

Entertainment and fashion make for a good marriage: Flipkart's Abhishek Maloo on 'The Archies' collaboration
Brand collaborations with movies, while not new, are becoming increasingly popular. 2023 saw a slew of big theatrical releases after a few subdued years. The trend of originals on OTT continued too and hitching onto the bandwagon is The Archies, releasing on Netflix on 7 December. The Zoya Akhtar film based on the popular comic book series, set in 1960’s Riverdale has spawned a host of brand collaborations such as Vistara, Starbucks, and Maybelline, to name a few.
One such tie-up is with Flipkart’s Spoyl, which has exclusively launched the official merchandise for the upcoming Netflix film, featuring limited edition styles including a wide range of apparel, footwear, and accessories spanning retro classics and modern silhouettes inspired by the Archies gang. 
The launch marks a special collaboration between fashion and entertainment in India for the platform, where the duo have joined hands to usher in nostalgic styles centred around the iconic pop-culture characters. Shoppers can channel the style of their chosen Archies cast from Archie, Veronica, Betty, Reggie, Jughead, Moose, Ethel and Dilton.
Ahead of the film’s release, Campaign India caught up with Abhishek Maloo, senior director, customer, growth, marketing and operations, at Flipkart Fashion to get him to spill the tea on The Archies association, what it entails for the platform and its users, and more...
Abhishek Maloo
Edited excerpts:
Take us through how this collaboration between Flipkart and Netflix’s The Archies came about...
Netflix, being one of the most recognised streaming partners globally pushes the envelope when it comes to content and its shows. Shows like ‘Emily in Paris’, ‘Stranger Things’, and ‘The Crown’, all have done fantastically not only entertainment-wise but also from a fashion point of view. And, even in India, it's not an exception - as consumers out here are taking inspiration from these OTT and Netflix shows when it comes to their fashion choices. Last year we were getting search queries of ‘Emily in Paris’ on our platform, so that’s the kind of impact OTTs and Netflix shows have on the consumer choice of lifestyle and fashion.
Keeping this in mind, with The Archies film coming out we thought there’s a big opportunity in terms of having cutting-edge entertainment and cutting-edge fashion joining hands. The movie has a setting of the 1960s and it takes us back to the nostalgic times but with a modern touch and is very fashion-forward. So when we got talking with Netflix about this, it clicked, we liked each other’s idea, and each other’s DNA, and one thing led to another and here we are. It's also a one-of-its-kind collaboration from Netflix’s standpoint in the country. So very happy with the way the journey was initiated, the buildup to this and also the initial response that we have got from our users. 
What exactly do you hope to achieve through this collaboration? Would we also get to see any in-film brand integration?
No, in-film brand integration is not part of the scope. 
As far as Spoyl is concerned, it's a very young platform. When we were launching this platform earlier this year, we were very clear that we wanted to talk to the youth, the Gen Z of the country whose inspiration in fashion choices is very different from the millennials or the generations before that. We're talking about people in the age brackets 15-24 or 24-28 borderline. They are people whose inspiration in fashion is driven a lot by OTT shows, social media, Instagram and so on. The whole idea behind launching Spoyl was that one out of every three or four visitors new to e-commerce would be a Gen Z. So we need to be very relevant, and fashion-forward while staying updated with what their choices are. 
And now that we are nearly three months into the hardcore operations of Spoyl, we believe it's a good time to do collaborations to amp up our game. Also, entertainment and fashion have generally gone hand in hand over many decades now, so it's a good marriage between the two.
We found a huge benefit of The Archies as a movie and I think they also saw the benefit of shaking hands with us in terms of us bringing out the official looks for the movie. If you look at the characters, there are six to seven main characters in the film and every character is very inspiring when it comes to fashion choices. So what we tried doing is talking to the Netflix team in depth and trying to understand the inspiration behind every character. What you see on the platform right now is a curated selection of merchandise that does justice to that particular character. So from that standpoint, it's a sweet time for us as a young platform to stay fashion-forward. It's also December - the end of the year, and the entire movie has a very cosy setup with a lot of winter wear that we have from this collection in this collaboration.

The movie has also signed up with a host of other brands for collaborations. How do you plan to break through all the noise to stand out?
Honestly, the attempt is not to stand out. We at Flipkart believe in democratising fashion for the country. We are a platform where we have millions of users coming every day and we have access to 20,000 pin codes across the country. We make fashion accessible and affordable for pretty much the entire country. That’s what the DNA of Flipkart is at large and with Spoyl it’s the same. The collaboration with Netflix is no exception. We don't want to stand out in the marketing activity, we want this collection to be accessible and affordable to the country at large and that’s what we have been able to do.
We have more than 250 styles of The Archies collection live on the platform, across men's wear, women's wear, accessories, shoes, etc. The whole idea is that we want to convert this whole buzz around the movie into a product and commerce. And that's been the entire journey of taking inspiration from the characters and from the Netflix team who were behind designing the costumes for the characters and the celebrities and making them available for the country at large. So if you want to carry a look of Veronica – who’s one of the main characters from the movie, Flipkart gives you the option to buy a dress for under INR 1,000 and you have that accessibility. That was the whole idea.
What benefits - economic or otherwise- does partnering with films have against signing celebrities up as brand ambassadors?
Spoyl is a young platform where we're trying to address the youth of the country whose fashion choices or inspiration for fashion are very different. So keeping that in mind one choice is that we sign up a brand ambassador and they become the face of the brand. The other idea is they keep collaborating with us through such associations. And to be honest, this is one of the first collaborations that we are doing for Spoyl. And I don't think there is any trade-off for either or that we are averse to having a brand ambassador or are more prone to collaborations. As a new platform, we are open to everything. In the next two or three months, you will see many more such collaborations happening from the fashion world from our side. We're also very open to the Instagram world. Influencer marketing is a big economy as we all know. Also, the fashion choices of this particular cohort come a lot from the influencers.
At this point, we are not taking any one choice. We will be trying out multiple stuff and see what works for us.  
Flipkart fashion’s current consumer demographic comprises shoppers in the 15-24 age group which accounts for over 57% of engagement on the platform today. How’s the split between urban vs rural households/ metros /tier 2/tier 3 towns? 
The good part about Flipkart Fashion is that we have access to probably every internet user in the country at this point given our app installation figures. A large part of our consumer base still sits in the ‘tier 2 plus’ towns of India. So while we do good business in metros and top 10 or top 20 cities, a large part of Flipkart fashion business also comes from towns with a population of less than five lakhs or two lakhs each. And we are very happy with that because that's the whole idea of democratising fashion and making it way more accessible where it is just not there. Also if you look at the people who are coming to the e-commerce funnel for the first time, fashion happens to be the first category. One out of every two or three new-to-e-commerce visitors to the site comes around to Flipkart Fashion as a first preference category from a trial standpoint, all thanks to the kind of price point that we operate in and the heterogeneity of the fashion business that we have on our platform. 
For Spoyl, it is way more over-indexed on the age group between 15-25 and maybe 30. It is even more over-indexed towards women than men which is not the case in Flipkart Fashion. So there are differences between the two platforms as a universe. And that's also intended because here we want to focus on the 15 to 24 age group, on women, on metro and tier 1, and so on. 
How’s Flipkart ramping up its go-to-market strategy to leverage this association, how does it plan to amplify its connect with Gen Z specifically?
Flipkart has a huge consumer base sitting on the app right now, which we leverage in a big way. A lot is going to happen on the platform with the film release. We are leveraging our app in terms of merchandising in CRM (Customer Relationship Management) and reaching out to the consumers by notifications. We're also able to reach out to our Gen Z target group because of data, and we send them targeted communication to tell them about the curated collection in a personalised and tech-enabled manner.
Because we know that this audience is sitting on Instagram, the platform plays a big role in our marketing strategies and in the next few days, you will see influencers talking about this collection on Spoyl. That is another route that we have taken that works for us. 
CGI (computer-generated imagery) is another thing that we are exploring. We will be using CGI videos - maybe not for this collab as I'm not sure we'll be able to meet the timelines - but for the next one for sure because that's another innovative marketing stuff that we would like to explore. 
What are some of the consumer trends that are driving Flipkart Fashion/Spoyl’s growth? 
I think in general there has been a little bit of sluggishness in the market for fashion, and a bit of revamp happening in terms of consumer demand as well. From the trends standpoint, I think it's very topical. If we talk about the consumer insights we have got for Spoyl although we only launched in August this year, before that we were working for a good six to eight months just on the research. We met a lot of consumers across the country, mostly in small cities to understand their fashion taste and a few of the things that stood apart was that this generation likes to browse a lot. So it has to be way more engaging, way more inductive. This generation also understands the beautification of commerce a lot better. 
From a trends standpoint, we did not see a lot of difference between what's happening in a Mumbai or a New Delhi, versus what's happening in Kota or Ajmer or Jaipur and the smaller towns. We found how fashion can be an equaliser, like today what Gen Z in smaller towns are shopping for is very similar to what the trends are in metros- whether its K-pop, or entertainment - people are getting influenced by either Bollywood or the Western world or the Korean dramas, and of course from what's trending or topical on social media. And that is why we have a dedicated team that keeps track of these trends every week.
Considering that it's a very young platform that just started, what would be the marketing roadmap for the platform in the coming year?
The short answer is ‘we don't know’. But directionally, we will continue to leverage the parent brand which is Flipkart. and the kind of eclectic audience the platform provides. You'll find in the coming months more and more innovative ways of discovering Spoyl within the platform and that's just one part of it. 
From an off-platform marketing standpoint, our preferred choices will be digital at this point because we need to put the money where our target audience is -that’s going to be a large part of the strategy. Influencers are something that we are looking forward to, and we are in talks right now with a few. We are taking this quarter by quarter, to be honest, and we don't want to commit to a one-year-long strategy because we also want to see what will work and what will not work in terms of the kind of collaborations, influencers and Instagram marketing we want to do. 


Campaign India

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