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Fashion led styles gaining momentum as compared to basic styles, says Triumph's Jennifer Kapasi

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With the growing penetration of organised retail and increasing population of fashion conscious youth and an evident shift in Indian consumer preferences from price sensitivity to brand consciousness and availability of untapped markets, lingerie – once a taboo product – is expected to emerge as a promising segment in apparel retail.
The lingerie market is witnessing trends in terms of fabric design, finish application, introduction of wider colour choices and fitting. These factors have led to innovation oriented growth in the segment.
Women’s lingerie segment is vary vast as it comprises of various product categories like – bras, camisoles, panties, tees, nighties, shorts, etc. Bras and panties contribute 85 per cent of the total women’s lingerie segment. In 2015, this segment was estimated to be worth Rs 14,389 crore and is expected to reach Rs 28,941 crores by 2020.
In an exclusive interview with Indiaretailing, Commercial Director, Triumph International, India and Sri Lanka, Jennifer Kapasi tells in detail about Indian lingerie market, Triumph’s market share is India’s innerwear segment and future plans of the brand.
Lingerie is no longer regarded as just an undergarment but is worn as a fashionable article of clothing, worldwide. Has India come of age, according to you, as far as lingerie is concerned?
As a fashion statement and a ‘feel-good factor’, lingerie is gaining more and more significance among Indian audience. Innerwear today makes a big difference to a woman’s wardrobe.
Lingerie has changed from a mere functional need base to a more emotional need base. Women today do not hesitate to spend on quality lingerie, especially when it makes them look and feel good.
When Triumph first entered the Indian market, lingerie was still a taboo subject, not discussed nor advertised as it is today. Over the years, this has changed to some extent. The younger generation today is more confident of themselves and are not afraid to experiment with colors, cuts and designs; this means a greater emphasis on rich fabrics, laces, embroideries and brighter, more daring colors.
Back then, selling lingerie for Rs 1,000 was a big task whereas now, consumers are ready to accept even Rs 1,500 as a price point. Increasing awareness about right quality and the importance of lingerie along with the western influence and the influx of more and more luxury brands has added to this.
Off late, we have also seen a lot of impulse shopping due to demand creation. This is largely due the growing popularity of e-commerce websites in combination with multiple payment options, which have made it very easy for the customer to satisfy her shopping desires.
Even within our portfolio, we have seen that our fashion led styles have been picking up momentum as compared to other basic styles.
What is the demand – in terms of percentage – of luxury lingerie in India?
Though there has been positive growth in the overall industry, the demand for luxury lingerie is still small. While premium and super-premium segments are growing at approximately 20-25 per cent CAGR, currently the luxury segment is approximately 5 per cent of overall lingerie.
Generally, luxury items in India are purchased as status symbols and since lingerie is still a behind-the-scenes garment, shoppers would rather indulge in accessories such as watches and handbags rather than in luxury lingerie.
The innerwear market in India has traditionally been dominated by unorganized players. However, in the last few years, the organized segment has shown promising growth. Where, in your opinion, is the lingerie market currently headed in India?
Until a few years ago, unbranded and unorganized regional players (especially in the mass and economy segments) dominated the Indian lingerie industry, with a few home grown and international players in the premium and super-premium categories. This is slowly changing with the influx of international brands in the premium and super-premium segments. Both these segments are growing between 20-25 per cent, which is more than the entire lingerie sector growth of 15 per cent CGAR.
With organized retail paving the way and making in-roads into untapped geographical markets, this trend will continue. We will continue to see exciting developments in the next few years. For one, international brands are pushing into the market, mostly in the premium and luxury segment. While we welcome this change as an overall benefit to the market development and growth, we also need to be aware of the environment growing much more competitive. There is already a need for brands to differentiate themselves, create stronger identities and ensure they meet evolving needs and desires of consumers.
With regards to consumer trends, we have experienced a strong shift from functional or occasion led buying to emotional buying. Lingerie today is a fashion statement with a feel-good-factor. It is seen as an extension of a woman’s personality and desires. It makes her feel sensuous, elegant and fashionable and radiates her inner confidence.
What is the contribution of online and offline channels in the overall revenue? Do you see it changing, going forward?
Currently, we are present on most of the reputed platforms such as Myntra, Amazon, Jabong, Snapedal and many more. In terms of contribution to sales, it is still a much smaller percentage compared to our retail sales, but we are optimistic and expect double-digit growth over the next few years. We have to ensure that we have the right product mix on these platforms. What works in the physical store place may not necessarily work online.
Unfortunately, until recently, most of the e-commerce space is driven by heavy discounting which if unchecked will eventually erode your brand image. To avoid this, we keep a close eye on operations so that there is no mass discounting or unauthorized sales for our products. Having said that, the scenario is slowly changing with online retailers becoming more conscious of their own brand image and moving away from discount led promotions.
What is the size of the global lingerie market? What is Triumph’s share?
According to expert industry reports, the global retail lingerie market is valued at US $28 billion with Asia contributing almost 20 per cent, with Triumph enjoying a significant market share.
Where is Triumph ranked in the Indian market?
Triumph is always among the top three lingerie brands named by consumers and brand partners alike and we are proud to own almost 35 per cent market share in modern trade at present. In 2016, we were awarded the ‘Best Lingerie Brand’ by Shoppers Stop for the second year in a row, which goes to show the love and loyalty among consumers towards Triumph.
Triumph has been growing at a healthy rate of 40 per cent year-on-year, which exceeds the industry average by almost double as the mass-premium and premium category grown by 25 per cent. We expect to continue with this above average industry growth in this year as well.
Is your lingerie produced locally in India?
As a true maker of lingerie, Triumph has a global network of state-of-the art production centers that meets the demands of the 120 countries that we are present in.
In India, our own manufacturing facility is set up near Chennai where we make products for the domestic as well as export market. Our current production capacity lies around 400,000 – 500,000 pieces a month and can be further extended. There is no outsourcing to third parties. Our products are for the Indian market and made using international designs concepts, using imported materials to adhere to our strict global quality levels.
What innovations have you introduced in your products?
Innovation is at the core of everything we do, we never stop. Our strength lies in our excellent craftsmanship and pioneering innovations. We always combine fashion with technology to bring products that are functional yet modern and trendy.
In the 1950s, Triumph created the first stretch straps for bras, ending pinching in one stroke. The first strapless corset was introduced in the 1930s. Triumph also created the first moulded bra in the1970s, paving the way for the T-shirt bra that would dominate in the 1990s and beyond. In India, we were the first brand in 2009 to launch the seamless T-Shirt bra, and in 2014, we introduced our innovative Body Make-up TM range, featuring lightweight seamless bras and panties that feel like second skin. We have also launched our ‘Cool Sensation’ collection made from revolutionary ‘Touch Cool’ fabric that effectively reduces the body temperature by 1.27 degrees celsius.
Our biggest innovation yet is the Magic WireTM bra that has won the reputed International Red Dot Design Award for product design and innovation in 2015. This ingenious new cup design uses a soft, flexible built-in silicon wire providing all the support of an underwire without the discomfort of a traditional metal wire.
How is your collection and price point different in India vis-a-vis rest of the world?
We have a diverse portfolio with over 350 style-colour combinations, including beginner bras, T-shirt bras, sensual lace bras, minimizers, mature and support styles, maternity bras, sports bras, cotton bras, shapewear and a variety of briefs worldwide. If we compare ourselves with other countries where we are present, we still have a long way to go. Mature markets like Europe, Japan or China have well over 1,000 style-colour combinations.
Our average selling price is India is approximately Rs 1,100, where as in mature western markets it is more than 3 times that.
Who is your TG?
We cater to all women irrespective of age or lifestyle, though our core target group is women aged between 25–45 years. With a product portfolio that is extremely diverse, there is something for every woman at every stage in her life.
Please throw some light on marketing and promotion strategies of your brand.
Consumer education has always been Triumph’s focus. In the beginning of 2015, we launched our global ‘Stand Up for Fit’ campaign in India. This campaign aims at helping women to take out the time to understand their bodies, seek professional advice through our fit experts to discover their actual bra size. It also aims at breaking down barriers in the search for advice on lingerie and personal fittings. To make it a little more interesting and engaging, Triumph has gone one step further and created a special animated concept ‘Find the One’ that brings alive an emotional story of finding the right bra, in a beautiful and innovative way, with which women can easily identify. As part of this campaign, we also hold special fit sessions across India where customers can not only experience Triumph’s entire product portfolio, but also educate themselves about the right fit and how to ‘Find the One’.
In 2017, we have also signed international supermodel and entrepreneur Jessica Hart as the global brand ambassador for Triumph. The new creative concept shows just how Triumph bras support women, whatever they do, highlighting the breadth of Triumph lingerie, to help women ‘Find the One’ for every age, shape, size and occasion.
Social Media is an important part of our overall Marketing strategy. We have an active Facebook page and Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter presence. In today’s scenario, it has become impossible to ignore the power of social media. It serves not only as an advertising tool but also as customer touchpoint and we believe in maintaining a constant dialogue with our consumers. We use our platforms to not only highlight our new collections and launches but also to talk about trends, glam, personal style etc.
How many stores do you have at present in India?
We have a strong presence throughout all sales channels across the country. We have a direct supply in over 75 cities with more than 1,000 points of sale. At present, we are available in over 650 MBO retailers in addition to around 250 large format stores and leading online retailers.
Please throw some light on the expansion/ growth plans in India.
Triumph has penetrated the Indian market with a strong presence throughout all sales channels across the country. We have a direct supply in over 75 cities with more than 1,000 points of sale. At present, we are available in over 650 MBO retailers in addition to around 250 large format stores and leading online retailers. Year-on-year, we expand our footprint at about 15-20 per cent.
Our imperative is to make the full Triumph collection available across the country and reach consumers irrespective of location either offline or online. We expect to continue growing above industry average, going as high as 50 per cent but definitely not lower than 30-35 per cent.

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