India’s fastest growing homegrown kids retail chain, Toonz Retail, is a one-stop shop for all the needs and occasions of kids from 0 to 12 years. Launched in 2010, the multi-brand store offers a complete range of exciting products for kids including apparel, baby care, nursery, toys and school supplies.
Apart from its flagship kids wear brands – WowMom (0-3 years), Super Young (3-12 years) and Super Young Celebration (3-12 years), Toonz Retail showcases a wide variety of other brands as well. These include Luvlap, Avent, Chicco, Himalaya, Tiffi Toffey, Mothercare, Mitashi, Funskool and Mattel.
Through its stores Toonz targets parents who are value seekers yet appreciate latest trends and don’t want to compromise on quality. In the financial year 2016-17, the retailer clocked a turnover of Rs. 70 crore and is now aiming at Rs. 100 crore in the next two to three years.
In an exclusive interview with IMAGES Business of Fashion, Sharad Venkta, Managing Director & CEO, Toonz Retail India Pvt. Ltd, talks about the kids wear market in India, while focusing on the occasion wear segment within this market. Excerpts from the interview…
Is the hypothesis true that parents have started shopping much more regularly for their kids for specific occasions?
With increase in disposable income and the penetration of the Internet, customers do not need any specific occasion to buy products. Parents, especially young parents, are buying as per their requirements, whims and fancies. They buy outfits for every occasion for their children.
Is this phenomenon restricted to just affluent sections of the society?
Everybody wants to look good and everybody wants to follow trends. They take inspiration from their favourite celebrity, fashion designer or bloggers. People want to make sure that they are party ready 24×7. This phenomenon is not restricted to just affluent classes. Rise in the consumption of mobile phones, constant internet exposure and social media influx have played an important role in spreading this phenomenon to all classes in India. Consumers today buy products and then share feedback and photos on various social platforms.
Which are the occasions – other than the wedding and festive seasons – that drive fashion consumption in kidswear?
Today’s generation does not really need an occasion to dress up. This generation believes in celebrating every day of their life. Hence, each day is like an occasion for them. Something as basic as a get-together or a house warming party may be termed as an occasion and can trigger grounds for fashion consumption. In kids, other than festivals, weddings and family programmes, various fun events at schools is a major consumption driver for occasion wear. Parents want the right apparel for every event.
How much of the overall sales in percentage is generated during the wedding and festive seasons?
October to December is the peak period where in nearly 60 percent of business is generated. Party wear is extremely popular during this season. Also, like I said, parents like to buy different outfits for different occasions. A Raksha Bandhan dress will not be repeated on Diwali, and hence there has been an increase in the quantum of kids’ fashion consumption over the past decade.
What are the major influences on the fashion choices while buying occasion wear for kids?
The first and most important criteria that is considered by parents is the comfort of the outfit. Other factors like prices, fabrics, styles and colours play important roles in determining a sale as well. Parents do look up to Bollywood celebrities and fashion designers when it comes to shopping for their kids. Kids too are greatly influenced by celebrities and want to wear outfits like their favourite on-screen idol.
How do you work towards increasing footfalls at your stores? What attracts consumers when shopping?
Understanding the minds of customers, we focus on ideas like ‘celebrating everyday’. Our entire communication is based on celebration. We do a lot of promotions and activities on digital platforms and social media to engage with our customers. When it comes to shopping for any occasion, customers will go to someone they trust, someone whose core value matches to their own. As a result, it becomes very important for brands to connect with their customers emotionally and understand their needs. A customers’ need ascribe what they are buying and where.
What are the products that you offer for occasion wear?
For various occasions including birthday parties, festivals and family functions, we offer a range of ethnic collection like kurta-pajamas, sherwanis, waistcoats, etc., for boys. Layered dresses, ghaghra-cholis, salwaar-kameez, ponchos and anarkali suits are popular for girls.
Tell us about your latest occasion wear collection and its theme. Also, share your plans for the forthcoming fall-winter season.
Our latest collection focuses on the theme, ‘celebrating everyday’, as we believe the kids to celebrate all around the year. The highlight of the occasion wear collection is the use of bright colours, which will later move to deeper shades of red and black for Christmas and winter season.
For the fall/winter season, we are planning more layered outfits. We are avoiding bulky outfits as they make the child very uncomfortable after a certain point. Our focus is on sweatshirts and jackets that are light weight.
Are you considering any new product or category expansion in occasion wear?
We have recently introduced ‘easy wear’, considering the problems faced by parents when they make their kids’ wear a particular outfit. A very simple example of the same is our waistcoats, where the ties get attached easily without much effort. This is our ready-to-wear range. Considering the age group – 0 to 3 years – kids in this age bracket are fickle minded and not easy to handle, hence we have created outfits in very soft materials.
Tell us about your retail presence and primary markets.
We had opened our first store in 2010 in Bengaluru. Through Toonz, we operate more than 100 stores spread across 65 cities in 15 states including Delhi, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab. Our core strength comes from Tier II and III towns.
In 2016, Toonz opened its first store in GCC. Internationally Toonz’s brands WowMom and Super Young are available in Nepal, Mauritius, GCC, Fiji and Papua New Guinea.
We also have a strong online presence with our e-commerce portal www.toonz.in and on leading e-commerce portals like Flipkart, Snapdeal, Jabong, Firstcry, Paytm and Amazon.
Furthermore, following the franchise model, Toonz stores are well sized between 1,200-2,000 sq. ft., catering to all the needs of a child.
What are your plans for exploring new markets in India?
India is a huge market to explore based on the kind of responses we keep getting. We are expanding rapidly in other markets on a monthly basis. We are also trying to open specialty stores. We have been trying to explore areas that have yet not been explored by any kids apparel and accessories retailer, and we are covering those cities where the reach is minimal.
What has been your progress through online retail? How is the response on occasion wear market?
The market place has always been a learning experience for us, where we are experimenting and exploring our own capabilities. In case of occasion wear, we have understood that this category is more an offline driven, unlike other product categories. Parents and kids usually like to see, feel and experience before buying products, rather than ordering online.