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Van Heusen Innerwear: Built on fashion and innovation

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Last year, Van Heusen – a part of Aditya Birla Fashion & Retail – decided on a category expansion and decided to venture in the innerwear space in India. The move was a smart one and showed results within just one year. Since its launch, Van Heusen Innerwear has become a significant No 2 player with regard to the competition in the mid-premium segment.

“For Van Heusen, focusing on this category was a natural progression as this category had a lot of opportunity for the brand. This is just the beginning. We intend to take over a large share of the innerwear market in India in years to come. Product acceptability has been phenomenal in all our markets and we are pretty buoyed by the success,” says Puneet Kumar Malik, COO, Van Heusen Innerwear.

Despite being a new entrant in the market, Van Heusen – built on the pillars of fashion and innovation with technologically superior quality products – found it easy to deal with the competition that established brands posed.

“Our main client is the ambitious man, the on the move, go-getter. We plan to differentiate our offering to this target audience and the key differentiators that will help us win are Brand Recall, Innovation at the Core and Addressing Consumer Pain points in this category,” says Malik.

India’s Innerwear Market

As of FY 17 reports available online Innerwear market is at Rs 25,000 crore with men’s being Rs 9,000 crore and women’s being Rs 16,000 crore. This market is seeing a CAGR of 12 percent and has huge potential.

“The main reasons for this change is that category is evolving as consumers are moving from economy to premium segments. The annual spends are on apparel by consumers is now 8 percent and the segment is moving from a low involvement category to high involvement category,” explains Malik.

Marketing spends have gone up in this category, mass communication media – hoardings, radio ads, TVCs – is being engaged to reach out to the consumer. In terms of distribution, retail has started seeing more spaces being given even to men’s innerwear as the category continues to grow, whereas earlier, only the women’s lingerie segment had open displays. Retailers are giving equal prominence to innerwear as they are to other apparel categories.

“Mid premium and premium segments are seeing the highest growth in this category and trusted brands are always welcomed by the consumers. Advertising is of critical importance to stay competitive in this market as well as to make the product communication far stronger than before wherein it used to just be an impulse buy with low involvement,” adds Malik.

Van Heusen Innerwear is capitalizing on this growth environment and providing a product that is innovative as well as fashionable

Product Portfolio & Innovation

The brand’s products include a classic range which are elevated everyday essentials with timeless design aesthetics and functional finishes, a platinum range of premium underwear made of superior fabrications and a signature range – fashionable underwear –which can be flaunted. There is also an active range – sports underwear – a function driven range made with superior performance fabrics like 100 percent mesh and neon accents.

“The brand doesn’t believe in seasonality for its innerwear category. In fact, the focus is solely on creating a product that is of the best quality and design in this segment. Having said this we do constantly look up new innovation that evolves in the international market. Our effort around product and marketing are always either fashion-led or product-led and never generic,” says Malik.

VH Innerwear’s mantra is that innovation and quality are two integral parts of going big in this category.

“Our key success on innovation has been twofold. The first innovation is our ‘All Day Fresh’ technology, for which innerwear is designed to perform all day through, by preventing growth of bacteria and also by quickly absorbing the moisture hence keeping people cool and dry. The second innovation is focused on fashion and we call it ‘The Metallic’, wherein we have developed a more fashion-forward band and fabric that urban men really love,” explains Malik.

Expansion Plans

Van Heusen’s product design and R&D team is constantly churning new ideas for expansion within the category. In the immediate future however, there is a lot of potential in men’s active innerwear segment and Van Heusen is keen on exploring this segment.

“We are soon going to launch a lingerie line as well,” reveals Malik.

The brand is currently focusing on Tier I & II cities and simultaneously also getting ready with Tier III cities launch plans. It is also concentrating on increasing distribution and trying to reach a larger consumer base.

“The potential of Tier II and III cities are untapped. In some cities, brand awareness is huge but there is no retailer fulfilling this need. The most important reason for this brand consciousness rising is digital technology. With most of India being converted with Internet, the consumer has a whole lot of variety at their disposal. Price sensitivity has gone down and disposable income has gone up. This makes Tier II & III cities huge potential markets for us,” says Malik.

“Online is a space that has huge untapped potential. Van Heusen realizes this and is currently available on major e-commerce partner portals,” he concludes.

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