HRX takes the fitness test

Published On: 2015-08-24

Author: Urvi Malvania

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HRX takes the fitness test

Source: Business Standard
Date: Jan 6, 2016

Banking heavily on the burgeoning market for fitness wear, Hrithik Roshan is taking his clothing brand from digital to physical stores and extending it to accessories and gym gear

Business does not run deep in the Bollywood bloodline. Rarely have successful movie stars made the transition from screen idols to business mavens. Hrithik Roshan, the latest in the line of business hopefuls from the film industry, is keen to buck the trend. His brand of fitness wear called HRX was launched in 2013 exclusively on online fashion portal Myntra and is now being rolled out in physical retail stores. While the date of the launch is still under wraps, the company says that HRX branded gym wear for men and women should be in stores later this year.

The HRX story will be watched closely by many, for Bollywood stars have rarely made the transition from movies to business. While many have successfully reinvented themselves as brand endorsers, lent their names to real estate projects and hotels and invested in sports league teams, only a handful have walked the entrepreneurial talk. Of course, there are exceptions; Twinkle Khanna, Suniel Shetty, Sunny Deol and several others have been more successful with their businesses than their film careers.

Launching a celebrity brand in India was a gamble agrees Afsar Zaidi, director, HRX and founder and MD at Exceed Entertainment (a talent management company). However, the team had identified three key areas that needed to be ticked off. The product needed to resonate with Roshan as a public figure, had to be contemporary and there had to be longevity, beyond the individual. The brand had to outlive Hrithik's stardom.

Zaidi said, "Hrithik is very passionate about fitness. It has played a vital part in his life. So when we sat down to ponder over possible business ventures for him, fitness wear and accessories were the obvious choice." The idea of HRX germinated almost five years back in 2010. The next two and a half to three years were spent in research, in partnership with IMRB, about what audiences relate to with respect to Roshan and what categories of products could be explored for a business venture.

Research showed fitness, dance and fashion as being the key characteristics that resonated with Roshan in the audience's mind and thus a fitness and lifestyle brand made sense. Zaidi added, "For a celebrity brand to be successful, it is important that consumers see the brand fit. It is different from brand endorsement; there is more ownership here."

The brand started out as an online property, and the response the HRX team claims, has been phenomenal. According to Zaidi, HRX would touch the Rs 100 crore sales mark in 2015-16 when revenues more than doubled as compared to the previous year.

The next step would be to expand the portfolio of products under the label. Footwear and fitness clothing (leisure and active wear) collections are set to go on sale in the first half of 2016. Along with this, the women's fitness wear portfolio will also see an expansion. The team also wants to take HRX into other categories, extensions of the brand are being explored in the space of home work-out equipments, fitness and fashion accessories, innerwear, male grooming products and tech accessories/wearables.

Zaidi and his team are also planning a series of promotional initiatives. Recently HRX was associated with a mountain bike race championship, the MTB Himalaya Challenge, and with the FC Pune City in the Hero Indian Super League. It has also worked extensively with athletes in the Paralympics that took place in 2015. The next step would be to sponsor a sports event.

Roshan is not the only face that will back the brand, even though it is named after him. Tiger Shroff came on board as an endorser in 2015 and will helm HRX's campaigns that take off on dance and fitness. Shroff has been signed on for a multi-year contract at roughly Rs 1 to 1.5 crore a year, HRX is his first major brand endorsement. Going ahead, the brand may look at more television properties to associate with. It is also looking for more brand endorsers. As the team atHRX pulls out the stops to build a fan following in the cities and in small towns in 2016, all eyes will be on the dancing star's brand's new moves.