NEW DELHI: The market for sportswear in India is set to become increasingly competitive as international brand Puma extends its presence across the country.

The focus will be on physical stores rather than e-commerce as the brand seeks to attract consumers ready to move beyond basic products and for whom price is not the defining purchase factor.

"A few years ago, we saw the trend of buying any kind of sports shoes for jogging by Indian middle class families," Abhishek Ganguly, Puma India managing director, told the Business Standard. "Nowadays, they are more brand conscious, unable to compromise on quality and ready to pay premium for the sports shoes."

That means a step up from footwear in the sub-Rs 10000 bracket into more technically advanced items and at those higher prices consumers want to be sure they're getting the right product.

As Ganguly pointed out, "beginners or first-time buyers may go to online stores, but the serious, hardcore sportspersons visit our offline stores to know the specification of the high-end products". And he added that there had been a "major shift" by Indian consumers to such products.

"We see the majority of our revenue coming from the offline stores," he stated.

The location of those stores will include Tier II cities as well as metros. "We don't believe in setting up more stores just for the sake of expansion – we are looking at select pockets," Ganguly said.

He further explained that Puma was "in the process of creating a strong brand awareness through various marketing and product launch initiatives". And as part of those developments, "we want to bring our global sports assets to India".

Already, Puma has deployed brand ambassador and the fastest man in the world Usain Bolt, to launch its Forever Faster campaign in India. Puma was also the official ball supplier for the recent Indian Super League football tournament.

Data sourced from Business Standard, The Hindu; addition content by Warc staff