Abstract: Fabindia, which was founded by John Bissell, believes that the it should act as a marketing instrument for the rural craftsmen and reach the customer at reasonable price. The company have been successful in their vision in fulfilling the need of the rural artisan by helping them in marketing their product with modern designs which customer accepts for their aesthetic values. However, for few years, Fabindia has been facing challenges, in terms of less profit.
The genesis of Fabindia goes way back. During this British rule, the Indian artisans and handloom weavers faced an extremely difficult situation since they were made to pay heavy taxes, a situation only worsened by the coming of mechanization of textile mills, which happened during those times. The traditional handloom weavers and artisans suffered heavily which erstwhile used to create and supply handloom-based fabrics to different classes of people in our country. In 1960, keeping this in mind, John Bissell started his own company ‘Fabindia’.
Initially, Fabindia was engaged in exporting furnished goods and then hand-woven fabric to customers abroad. The economic scenario drastically changed after in the 1990s with India opening its economy and following the policy of liberalization. The reduction in the import duties along with freeing of the markets made it easy for many companies to now target the Indian Middle-class Indian consumers with more disposal income. This encouraged Fabindia to adopt a new set of strategies. Side by side with more opportunities for foreign companies to come to India and get connected with source of the items. Later, after John Bissell’s demise, his son William Bissell went for a completely different business model and a changed marketing strategy for the future which would focus on creating a unique identity for Fabindia.
The strategy was to open more boutique stores in India focusing on domestic market. By 2001 in Mumba, Kolkata, Chennai and Bangalore a couple of such stores were opened and in the year 2004, the company opened more stores to increase their geographical presence in other cities with 20 stores in various parts of the country. Fabindia had 75 such stores in India, by 2007 .Fabindia is at a crossroads today. The company, especially in the post-pandemic business environment, under the able guidance of the Chairman William Bissell, must face new challenges with the changes in the market conditions and address the changes in customer tastes and preferences and invent new ways to fulfil the current demands, without losing its identity in the highly competitive and differentiated mass market.
Learning objectives: The readers will study the journey of Fabindia and learn how Fabindia can take a call to strengthen its competitive positioning in the market. Given the fact that the models, discussed in the case, are useful to provide appropriate frameworks for adopting strategies against various stakeholders to remain profitable in business, various macroeconomic and other factors in the actual operating business also needs to be assessed before applying any model as a strategic tool in the real-world context.
The reader will also note that Fabindia is at a crossroads where it must face new challenges with the changes in the market conditions and changes in customer tastes and preferences and invent new ways to fulfil the current demands without losing its identity in the highly competitive and differentiated mass market.
Based on the above, the reader may look at whether Fabindia needs to focus on changing its branding, and promotion and price strategy by keeping the buying behavior of Indian consumers.
This case can be used a a resource for courses, such as, Strategic Management, Marketing Management, Ethics, CSR, and Corporate Governance.