Retail experts agree that the label needs to rebrand if it is to stay relevant and relate to the elusive millennial crowd. Dr Lewis Lim, associate professor of marketing practice at Nanyang Business School, says: "The new millennial generation has a very different concept of 'cool footwear' and the previous Bata brand image doesn't fit the modern definition of 'cool'." Bata needs to refresh its image to remain relevant in the competitive and cluttered marketplace, he says. National University of Singapore associate professor of marketing Ang Swee Hoon says the rebranding also targets a segment that spends more on shoes and clothing. "The younger generation wants more shoes - whether for work or for leisure. And for those who have not bought a house yet, they have no mortgage loans to consider. Hence disposable income is relatively high." As to whether the rebranding will succeed, experts say Bata may have to do more. Dr Lim says it cannot simply be about introducing trendy shoe designs. He says: "Young consumers are fussy about choosing brands that allow them to express their attitudes. When a young consumer puts on a pair of Bata shoes, the shoes need to say something complimentary about the person. There needs to be a level of sophistication in the brand personality." He adds that the label cannot expect to be seen as a cool brand if it is available only in neighbourhood stores. "The shoes need to hit the shelves of trendy fashion stores and be available at leading online stores where young consumers shop for apparel and accessories." Mr Samuel Tan, course manager of diploma in retail management at the Temasek Polytechnic School of Business, says the challenge for Bata is whether the re-invention differentiates it enough from competitors.
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