Most of the parents do not spend much on kidswear segment as kids grow out of clothes all the time. Harminder Sahni pens down his thoughts to fix this common turmoil.
One of the biggest hurdles in the growth of Indian kidswear market has been the parents’ insistence on not spending enough money worrying about kids growing out of clothes all the time. While one can always argue that everyone grows out or else the clothes wearout. So why this should be the reason for lower spending incase of kidswear? While there is no logic behind this but this issue is so persistent that I would ignore this and focus on some other ways to address this challenge.
I looked for some parallels for this problem and discovered that consumer electronics, mobiles and furniture as categories have somewhat similar issues of people not wanting to buy new cause of the cost of replacement is high and the means to discard the old ones are cumbersome. To overcome these issues, companies have come up with now fairly well established ‘buy back’ schemes where in a consumer can trade his or her old product with a new one by paying the difference between the prices of two. This works well for everyone as the consumer not only gets some reasonable value for the old item but also gets to own a newer item.
I wonder whether some thing like this can be applicable to kidswear category. Since children do grow out of clothes much before they are worn out these clothes can certainly be used by some other kids with bit of touch ups to take care of little signs of being used. Till recently lot of clothes were consumed in the hand me down chain as there were many siblings and cousins in joint or larger families and beyond that there were children of domestic help. However, with more and more families living away from their hometowns and larger families as well as in a ‘unit family’ structure, and with single person migrant domestic help, the avenues of old clothes being used are becoming rare.
In this winter season, I have been approached by couple of charitable organizations to donate clothes that they will pass on the needy families.I have seen advertisements from Lt.Governor of Delhi urging citizens to donate for homeless people. I have also seen NGOs collecting clothes for school children who miss schools during winters cause they don’t have enough warm clothing to fend against cold winds and freezing temperatures.
In this skewed market scenario, I believe there is a serious opportunity to connect the two ends of the market by making it more like a commercial and sustainable and not as a charitable activity. My belief is that in a charitable situation, the giver expects unreasonable amount of recognition and the taker’s self esteem is affected in a negative way. If a platform could be created wherein people can offload their old clothing and earn points that they can use to buy new clothing from partner brands and retailers. On the other hand, the collected old clothing can be mended and repackaged and then can be retailed through online and offline stores to whosoever sees value in it. In addition to sales, another possibility could be that people can use those points as charity and a certain amount of clothes (not necessarily the ones they offloaded) can be given to a designated charity. It could be on the lines of the way CRY (Child Relief andYou) does. A person can pay a certain amount of Rupees to educate a child for a year. In this case, it could be that you can clothe a child for a year if you give away a certain number of points.
I believe this way a certain segment of affluent and well to do consumers may change their mindset about their own children’s clothing and will not buy a bigger size to last longer or keep it unnecessarily at home in the wardrobe. They may choose to barter it for newer clothes and just give away for lesser fortunate ones.
One area where it certainly is possible is the school uniform. Millions of school children go without school uniforms as they cannot afford it or the government schemes never reach them. If there was a platform wherein “sister or bother schools” could be created. A private school with better off kids could become a sibling of a poorer school and the uniforms from last year from the former could be passed on to the latter. This way a seamless network of distant sibling schools and children could be created to connect these far sides of our own nation. It will be more like a hand me down between children and hopefully be not seen as charity. Most of the parents today don’t like to buy new uniforms every year and tend to buy larger sizes to last for two sessions. But in this scheme, it could be insisted that parents buy new uniforms every years and handover the old ones for a discount. It will certainly create a larger market and also serve larger segments