Levi Strauss Denizen: A New Avatar


June 7, 2011

Pallavi Srivastava
New Delhi, June 2011

The jeanswear brand, Levi’s had been losing its premium image with the launch of Signature, which was launched in 2006. Making ammendments, Signature has morphed into Denizen. Is it a mere name change or are there any cosmetic changes as well? And more so, will the new branding pull the brand back into the premium league?

While Denizen carries the price tag of Signature (between Rs. 799 and Rs. 1,499), Denizen is being positioned as a youth brand targeting the 18-28 male and female. Signature, meanwhile, was positioned as a mass brand.

Also, Denizen claims to be giving a more customised offering to the Asian consumers. Sanjay Purohit, Managing Director, Levi Strauss India, says, "Denizen is the next evolution of Signature, be it in terms of product, retail or marketing. It aims to deliver to growing consumer aspirations, which are increasingly reflecting global trends and also strengthen the position of Levi’s."

Can the phase out be smooth? Devangshu Dutta, Chief Executive, Third Eyesight is optimistic. "The phasing out of Signature may cause short-term pain operationally, but Levi’s has phased out other brands earlier – even Dockers, which was a much more iconic brand."

The challenge for Denizen, however, will come from the growing number of international brands making headway into the mid-segment in India. K J Singh, CEO & Co-founder, Evolve Brands, says, "The challenges for Denizen are huge especially when all the foremost – large and local brands are vying for the same target audience and it’s very difficult to identify any specific differentiation – branding, awareness and information on the customisation."

However, Tarang Gautam Saxena, Senior Consultant, Third Eyesight expects Denizen "to strengthen Levi’s position in the affordable segment."

In the global scheme, Denizen is a brand focused at emerging markets like India, China and Brazil. In fact, it’s first time in the history of Levi’s that a brand has not been launched in the US.

Ajay Naqvi, EVP and Head of Mudra North & East, stresses that Denizen would need a sharper positioning than just the youth or the designs. "Ultimately, the success or otherwise of Denizen will depend not only on cuts, style and the pricing; but what the brand stands for in the consumers’ mind," he says.

Purnendu Kumar, Vice President- Retail & Consumer Goods, Technopak Advisors agrees. "The key for Denizen to be a success will depend on the brand’s ability to keep the product fresh and happening as this set of consumers is much more trendier and fashion forward," he says. Otherwise, Denizen may start on the same path as Signature.

And to strengthen its association with the youth, Denizen has roped in actor Imran Khan, as its brand ambassador. The company will be relying heavily on television advertising to get a fair share of consumers’ mind.

Apart from that in-store advertising, digital and outdoor too are key elements of Denizen’s marketing plans.

(This article appeared in the June 2011 edition of Pitch magazine.)