toniQ Retail Brands prefers brick-and-mortar over online retailing

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Accessorizing has always been a very important part of fashion as it adds incredible value to a person’s look, apart from helping underlining individualistic style. The demand for accessories in India have been on the upswing as consumers and their fashion sensitivities have been constantly evolving.
The Indian fashion accessory retail market is worth Rs 15,557 crore, growing at 18 per cent to 19 per cent and is expected to touch Rs 25,306 crore by 2017 according to India Retail Report 2015.
The presence of brands is extremely limited in this sector as the most of the market is dominated by unbranded players. Taking advantage of the situation, sister-brother duo Sonali and Sohel Lalvani launched their first women’s accessories brand, toniQ, in 2010.
At present, the company portfolio consists of four brands – toniQ, Fida, Pulse and Bro Code – all within the fashion accessories space spanning over different market segments.
In an exclusive interview with Indiaretailing, Co-founder Sohel Lalvani spills beans over the growing accessory market, consumption patterns and a lot more.
The accessory market in India is still in nascent stages. What, according to you, is its potential? What has the consumer reaction to all your brands been?
We are at a nascent stage of a potentially large market. The customer has just started understanding the design potential. India’s organised accessory market is well behind the international market standards as far as designs and collection is concerned.
Each of our brands – toniQ, Pulse, Fida and The Bro Code – are directed to different demographics. To begin with, toniQ aims at providing discerning fashionable women across the country aesthetic and trendy accessories. On the other hand, Pulse, the entry market level accessories brand aims to target younger women across Tier II and Tier III towns. Fida, which is all about handcrafted jewelry and craftsmanship, was launched keeping in mind the modern Indian woman. The Bro Code is a first of its kind men’s accessories brand that was launched to cater to an emerging male segment that is slowly but steadily embracing accessories as part of their personal style statements.
Retailers across the board, have started realizing the importance and potential of the accessories segment and now they understand the dynamics of how it complements the apparel segment, and how it is the perfect add on to increase the average transaction value.
Since your company’s inception in 2010, how has the consumption pattern changed?
In a single word, completely! Initially, the customer wanted designs that had an Indian touch to it, whereas now the consumer wants to adorn pieces that are trendy and are in vogue. Whether it’s the use of new materials or the inclusion of bold designs, the evolution has been continuous.
It’s our job to always watch, listen and act. Observation is the key to success. We are consistently mapping international trends and we take pride of be pioneer in bringing it to the Indian market.
What are the basic accessory trends that rule the market?
The evolved customer of today wants to find value in her or his purchases. The particular style must win the heart of consumer in terms of design, price and functionality. The Indian consumer needs functionality. They prefer to use it, and be able to use it again and again.
What is easier – catering to online consumers or offline customers?
Our experience and belief has always been towards offline retail. We believe the emerging online market is a compliment to the offline market, but it cannot replace the brick-and-mortar retail.
We believe that brands are built offline. A brand is built engaging all the senses, touch/feel – sound – sight and scent. Globally brands and malls spend a great deal of investment making the offline retail experience worth remembering. They ensure that they spend a great deal of time to visually merchandise their product, display packaging and dress up the mannequins. While doing so, they also learn from customer reactions, expressions and buying patterns.
On the other hand, the Indian online customer has been spoiled with free returns, discounts and other gratifications. The buying pattern in the e-commerce space is led by price. Lower the price and higher the chance of their sales.
So, we love catering to the offline customer.
What is your digital strategy? How much does e-commerce contribute to the overall revenue of the company?
We believe in giving the customer a wide choice of designs. We do not play the discounting game. Despite that, we are there on Jabong, Myntra, Amazon, Flipkart, Wooplr, Roposo and Limeroad.
In an attempt to make our designs known to an emerging set of audience, we are also present on various social media platforms like Facbook and Instagram.
From this segment, our revenue accounts to 20 per cent of total revenue, but we believe this will grow to 30 per cent towards the end of the financial year.
How many international players have forayed into the accessory space in India? How do you view them in comparison to Indian players?
Over the years there have been a few standalone accessories brands who have entered the Indian market, and are doing well. There are other brands too, but these brands add accessories to their fashion apparel segment. Both these segments produce their designs for the global market.
Our biggest advantage is each style is created keeping the Indian consumer in mind with all aspects of size, design, look, price, colour and functionality.
What are your future plans for the brands?
Our goal has always been to take each of our brands to the top of the customer’s mind. We are looking at increasing our point of sales, within emerging MBO’s. We are also looking at newer markets. North East India, for instance has a huge potential for the fashion category, so does Tier II and Tier III cities in India. We will also be looking at identifying pop-ups at prominent malls across the country where we can showcase our products.
Expanding the reach of our own online platform
Maximising on 3rd party marketplace platforms
Expand the category line for toniQ
Expand 100 locations across India
Mark our presence in Tier II and Tier III cities
Grow to 100 doors
Foray into international markets like UAE, UK and US
Increase to 200 new designs a month
Enter into newer price segments
Bro Code
Expand category line
Tie up with more strategic partners to roll out in new cities
Grow our styling service

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