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Changing dynamics in premium and bridge-to-luxury innerwear segment in India

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Innerwear for men and for women is not just a basic necessity but something that shapes the future of their personal hygiene. The Indian Intimate Apparel Industry has evolved for better with time. However, the same industry earlier had limited the notion of underwear to bare minimum. For this industry, an underwear was functional – something that just did the job, because why pay more for something that is on the inside and not visible to anyone? Here’s a look at how this viewpoint has changed over the years, triggering a befitting change in the dynamics of the intimate apparel industry in India.

Premium and designed luxury innerwear segment for women, also known as lingerie, changed the perspective for women and turned the basic necessity innerwear to something that every woman wants in her wardrobe, making the product aspirational and a need. An Indian woman today is experimenting with brands of new age like , , , , etc., with new age innovative cuts and functional properties and thereby creating their own niche in the Rs 11,000 crore market.

The wave of premium innerwear hit the women’s innerwear segment fi rst and that is how the trend started. Designer innerwear advanced technology and industry trends, the luxury innerwear segment started gaining some recognition. The premium innerwear brands like , , and are some of the brands which are prevailing in the market providing different ranges of innerwear from affordable to premium. Some brands market themselves as brands who want to cater to the masses, while others are positioned as premium innerwear brands. It was eventually with the awareness of consumers and arrival of global brands that the gates to luxury innerwear were opened.

Innerwear category in itself is like a study to understand the consumer buying pattern as it begins at basic commodities but expands its horizons to most premium intimate wear. Consumers are more aware and flexible now because of the approachability of new trends. Brands are taking extra effort as they know that today a customer’s trust can be gained only by having products that are game changing and designs which are relevant in today’s day and age. Customers are the best reality check any brand can get, they are always honest and more fashion conscious now than ever. Customisation of products portfolios is also something which shows that how diversified and skilled the designs of the brand are. Sticking to the USPs of the product, be it colourful prints or the best fit with premium fabric has always proved to be fruitful as it gives you credibility for brand recall.

With cutting edge technology, innerwear segment is more thorough than it seems to be on the outside. Brands are open to looking at trends and processes from around the world, thanks to the advancement in technology and social media which has made advertising and marketing more transparent than ever.
Customer retention and communication has improved drastically with the help of social media and website engagement. It not only helps in building trust for a customer but it helps in making the brand more approachable. Adaptability to market trends and developing the flexibility to adjust with the prevailing scenarios should be a thriving culture of and practices in the market to steer you clear for originality and approach’s sake.

History

The 70s and 80s were the decades when innerwear brands took a turn for the better and started to evolve on the footsteps of the fashion industry.

The manufacturers and retail soon caught on to the logos trend and started using consistent names which went on to become famous underwear brands. The customers didn’t really give any serious consideration to the underwear section, it was a basic necessity earlier and people did what was the basic minimum. It’s said that brilliant advertising is not just catering to the need but creating a need in the consumer’s mind when there was absolutely no awareness of the product.

The 90s brought the consumer power in the market which changed the nature for innerwear segment. Small labels started developing into brands and correct marketing changed the course of nature for many brands. If 90s was the beginning of something game changing, it was the 2000s that showed the results of the first wave with a breakthrough.

More than 8,000 distributors are engaged in ensuring the reach of Indian Hosiery industry and the brands involved. A lot depends on the strategies and practices adopted by brands for their sales and ad campaigns. Innovative market and content trends can help the brand gain recognition and increases the organic reach according to the reliability.

Present Scenario

With so much competition in the e-commerce sector, it’s considered that the era of retail has ended.

However since the retail space is limited, there is always going to be a showdown of the best brands to acquire the space with new fervor and competition. It is expected that the innovative retail strategies will be launched to woo retailers and to make sure they are always on board with new direct marketing strategies.

The widely popular women’s innerwear market witnesses a slower pace of consolidation and it is equally slow to welcome new players. The lingerie market has well established brands and they cater to an audience of women who are not much inclined towards experimenting as innerwear is something so personal, that people go with their trusted brands for the longest time possible.

While the men’s innerwear segment is gaining its momentum and it’s really exciting to see where the trajectory lands. The thriving intimate wear market caters to the young audience and an audience which is more aware of the trends. So keeping up and competing in a world where everything goes viral in minutes, the only key is to be on your toes and be a step ahead in the trend game.

One of the reasons that brands are catching up slow is because the market is ready to cater to the need of price and availability but misses out on the customer needs. The market is constantly in the need of an aggressive player who is inclined towards investing heavily in marketing and puts customer experience at the centre of everything it does. It might be a slow consolidation rate for some years, but it has proved to be successful for many new age home grown brands. According to the reports by Technopak, the current innerwear market size is worth Rs 27,931 crore which is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 10 percent over the next decade to become Rs 74,258 crore by 2027.

The Indian innerwear market was evaluated to be worth Rs 19,950 crore and is estimated to grow at 13 percent to reach Rs 68,270 crore by 2024. Until the 1970’s era, innerwear was still inside the closet as a basic commodity and was overpowered by the organised sector which entered the Indian innerwear market after 1990’s. It was between 2000 and 2008, that major international players owning premium brands entered the market. Later, the Indian innerwear market started expanding with the help of various retail formats such as EBOs, departmental stores and LFS.MBOs are considered as the ones selling the most in innerwear retail outlets, as it serves a larger audience.

Featuring your brand in MBOs gives you an upper hand on recognition over the other brands as you are featured among the most innovative design and trends. EBOs cater to its own audience in larger cities and with time, more and more women prefer EBOs and don’t mind walking into one.

New Fabrics & Trends

Innerwear should not just make you feel comfortable on the inside but should give you a refreshing confidence whenever you step into it.

The Indian audience is rising above the solids and boring Whites. From pop colours to luxury underwear with silver waistbands, brands have expanded their product portfolio like anything. Not only in terms of design and patterns, but there’s equal experimenting with fibres.

Technical advancements have led us to innovating in our fabric and we have moved on from basic cotton. Materials like micromodal are coming into age. It is finely extracted from the pulp of beechwood trees and then constructed into a fiber, which can put the finest cotton to shame. Advancements have been made in innerwear to give customers a better and hygiene friendly experience which can save them from yeast or bacterial infections. While a brand in US manufactures underwear for war soldiers with sensors which is helpful in preventing internal pelvic wounds during war time.

Modern-Day Customers

The exposure to various international brands and organised players has kind of contributed in the Indian innerwear market growth as it made customers familiar with the concept of luxury innerwear. Customers are well informed about the quality standards and consequently more inclined towards buying more products. With increasing number of working women keen on spending on luxury items, the market is boosted too. Adding various layers to products with more innovative colour palettes and design patterns has refined the innerwear industry to a more advanced and innovative community.

This innovativeness and ideation not only caters to every kind of audience but has worked well for the brands as well, as it brings customer retention.

Value for Money

The domestic innerwear market has been on the rise with the entry of global brands and premium innerwear brands. One thing which has really worked out for all these brands is the thriving nature to incite customer satisfaction.

Customers are looking for comfort and quality over anything, and then come the affordability parameter which filters out the kind of audience which is targeted by brands for their premium ranges. With a diverse product portfolio, brand appeals to all classes which give any customer a wider range of options to choose from. Customers do not overlook crucial requirements like quality and comfort, and don’t hesitate to pay a little more for better results. With increasing amount of disposable income, the international Indian customers are spending on innerwear more than before. Many established brands are focusing on introducing newer and better line, while adhering to customer satisfaction. The Indian consumers have come a long way from not exploring innerwear out of their neighbourhood to actually visiting EBOs and MBOs to find premium quality and fabric. Premium innerwear lies in the mass range of Rs 100 to Rs 250, and the luxury range is from Rs 400 to Rs 3,000.

Influence of Advertisement

With the “Make in India” programme, there are a bunch of rising entrepreneurs currently in the market who have understood the mantra of good advertising and importance of good products. If the products are genuine they are definitely going to speak for themselves but in this day and age of trending media, rising brands shouldn’t miss out on the race for innovative marketing and really connecting with the consumers on a day to day basis through social media.