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Clovia: leading fashion, lingerie and personal care brand in India

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Clovia has always been a mass-market brand and most of its repeat customers come from tier-I and tier-lll markets

By N. Bobo Meitei

Back in March of this year, Clovia made headlines when Reliance Retail Venture, an arm of Reliance Industries, acquired 89% in the Purple Panda Fashion-owned intimate brand. The oil-to-retail conglomerate made the investment in the form of secondary share purchase and primary capital infusion. The brand, started by Neha Kant, Pankaj Vermani and Suman Chowdhury, is the third intimate brand to have been acquired beside Zivame and Amante. Recently, the direct-to-consumer lingerie and personal care brand has roped in actor Shraddha Kapoor as its first brand ambassador. 

Products and retail footprint

“Clovia has always been a mass-market brand and most of its repeat customers come from tier-I and tier-lll markets. Average order values are 20% higher in tier ll and-lll as compared to metros. Over 65% of Clovia’s customer base comes from non-metro cities, Soumya Kant, Co-Founder of the brand says. About Clovia’s retail footprint, Soumya maintains that the products are available in 47 EBOs, 250+ multi-brand and big format retailers, and more. Today, it offers more than 6,000 product types which are 250 new styles a month and in 75+ sizes, supported by its ‘Clovia Curve Fit Test’ and based on a feedback-led design strategy that analyses more than 1 million product reviews and 140 million additional user profile data points. The co-founder says that the business ships about 700,003 items each month, selling one every three seconds. She claims that there are more than 3 million clients of Clovia both online and offline, spread throughout 2500- plus cities.

Recently, it diversified its product portfolio by unveiling- Skivia, which, she claims, is designed to give customers naturally infused and chemical free products in skin care and hair care range.

Factor enabling growth

In addition to the rising number of working women and their disposable income, she attributes the brand’s growth to its products. “We source raw materials, develop internally, manufacture in facilities operated only for us by third parties, guarantee our own 4-level quality controls, and market through a variety of direct sales channels. Every product we develop is initially created in small batches, which are then tracked by cutting-edge backend technology that forecasts future sales (based on sales trends and consumer feedback) and suggests what additional amounts should be produced,” Soumya elaborates.

The results, she says, is low cost, as middlemen are eliminated, high on consumer appeal, and super efficient on inventory, leading to better margins and cash flows even in a high number of stock keeping units/sizes business.

If brands were affected in Covid19-induced lockdowns and found it difficult to bounce back in post-lockdowns, for the lingerie brand it has a different story. Soumya says, “Despite the lockdown, where the businesses across sectors were impacted, Clovia in FY’20 recorded a 50% growth over FY19 with 85% sales coming from online channels. Work from home further contributed to the sales to a large extent with a high demand for sleepwear, loungewear and activewear clothing.”

This consistent growth journey seems to be validated by the brand’s retail growth and its plans. Clovia plans to triple its offline store count in the upcoming year, the cofounder shares. Its greater ambition is to keep expanding into new product lines to take advantage of a variety of organic and inorganic opportunities in order to expand internationally.

Challenges

Lingerie has never been a comfortable topic in the Indian traditional societies; the stigma associated with it comes with challenges. “In our nation, lingerie has always been discussed in whispers. Women have long found it difficult to purchase at local establishments because they are typically managed by men. We’ve all heard tales of ladies finding themselves in amusing or humiliating situations at their local lingerie shop,” she reasons. We felt that the evolution of this category in India had not kept pace with the fast-changing outerwear fashion, she laments. “Our biggest issue when we first began was that clients had trouble understanding bra sizing, particularly the cup sizes. Women needed to be taught how to select the proper cup sizes,” she shares. The answer to the predicament is its applied algorithm, which is based on “Clovia’s Fit Test.” How it works? After conducting a thorough investigation, it creates a test asking a woman five questions about her body shape and then suggests the best bra. Here, we have a very high rating for client satisfaction, Soumya who is also the brand’s Chief Growth Officer remarks.

Inventory and styles

On inventory and styles, she says “Initially, the lingerie industry manufacturing ran very limited to a few thousand units. At that point the brand could not provide more than 100 styles per year.”

‘Every month, we had to debut more than 100 new models while closely monitoring our inventories. Therefore, we had to persuade our collaborators to work on these illogical manufacturing ideas. More than 75% of our inventory is currently less than 30 days old, and we now provide more than 200 designs per month,” she stresses.

Future

Fueled by rising number of working women and increase in disposable incomes of the target group combined with greater awareness and education around the right and fashionable lingerie, the size of Indian women’s innerwear market is expected to double by 2025. According to a report by RedSeer Management Consulting, it is slated to grow to $11-12 billion by then. The Indian market has witnessed the emergence of several direct-to-consumer brands in the early years of the past decade, some of which have gained a significant scale.

For the D2C fashion, lingerie and personal care brand the main focus now is on meeting demand and ensuring growth across all channels of distribution. It is growing both online and offline. “The fun for a brand is to comprehend the target market and specifics of each channel and make sure that buyers and merchants get a true omni experience. For the next five to six quarters, this will be Clovia’s primary priority,” she avers.

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