In a nation where the Censor Board creates trouble with too much skin exposure and where kissing in movies is considered bold, for the lingerie market to be booming is quite a surprise. Franchising has contributed to a certain extent to this growing linge
Men steer away from lingerie stores and women are skeptical to utter ‘g-string’. These taboos might be there but one cannot deny that the market has grown tremendously and the product category has increased manifold. The Indian lingerie market today is valued at over $2 billion and is expected to increase by a minimum of 15 per cent in the next three years. The market for lingerie is a mix of organised and unorganised players. The organised sector covers one third of the market. The lingerie market is segmented as; economy, mid-price, premium and super-premium.
There has been a revolution in the lingerie market. Groversons, a brand that is over 60 years old has switched from the one-size-fits-all sizes to a special range for teens and tweens, sportswear and has further extended their products to nightwear. On any given day, most lingerie brands have products such as basic, fashion, intimate, camisoles and nightwear. Nightwear is further divided into basic and fancy. With impulse buying on a constant rise, women are looking for a lot more than black, white and beige coloured pieces.
Many foreign brands have made their way and are sitting comfortably in Indian markets. Marks & Spencer, La Senza, Triumph, Calvin Klein, Undercolors of Benetton, Amanté, Jockey, Hanes and the ever popular, Lovable. For these brands, the Indian lingerie market is still in its nascent stages but is on a positive rate of growth. The variety too is limited but not due to lack of production but lack of retail space. Amongst Indian brands, there are the likes of Red Rose, Libertina, Bwitch, Beyouty, Neva, Groversons, Juliet and About U.
The lingerie industry is constantly fluctuating between organised and unorganised. There are several brands that have set up a strong franchising network and many of them have entered franchises. Today, there are a few brands that have excellent franchise set ups.
Lovable: Lovable has been franchising for over six years and has firmly set its position in the lingerie market. Presently the brand has six franchised outlets and requires an area of 100 to 600 sq. feet. Ideally, an investment of about Rs 10- 20 lakh is what most lingerie brands require to set up a franchise outlet.
Triumph: Triumph International has been operational in India since 2002 and started franchising in 2009. The investment required to own a franchise of Triumph, is Rs 1.5-2 million and an area of 400-700 sq. feet.
Bwitch: It also extends its franchise apart from having company owned and presence multi brand stores.
Jockey: Page Industries Ltd., located in Bangalore, are the exclusive licensees of Jockey International Inc. (USA) for manufacture and distribution of the Jockey brand innerwear and leisurewear for men and women in India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh ,Nepal and UAE. The aspiring franchisee needs an area of 800-1,200 sq. feet and an investment from Rs 20-30 lakh.
Although there is a huge existing market and a large potential audience for varied lingerie styles and brands, there are still a lot of people who do not view it with an open mind. As a result, there is lack of advertising which sets the market back a great deal. Due to this a lot of brands have started online retail. For customers, the inability to try the products makes them skeptical about purchasing them. Hence the sales for these are limited and only account a small amount of total sales. There are a few stand-alone lingerie stores, most exist in the shop-in-shop format. These sub-stores are most likely on a higher floor in a departmental store and that too in one secluded section.
In addition to this, women can be ignorant of the style of innerwear that suits them. They might be aware of their size and inches but not what kind of fit they need. The industry is run by men starting from manufacturers to dealers and hence the lack of understanding is inevitable.
Considering the increasing success of online retail, some lingerie brands have also opted for online presence. saasya is in its initial stage franchising and has successfully set up an online store as well. Arun Sivaraman, Head of Strategy, saasya, explains; “The franchise is yet in its initial stage but we have the conviction that it will do well. The success of a lingerie brand depends entirely on the product it offers and what service it provides. It is a tailor made business and one cannot assume the difficulty is any lesser for this industry.” saasya’s USP is fashionable lingerie, the market for which is doing very well and will continue to grow in the future as well, adds Arun.
The brand, saasya aims at creating an experience for its clientele. Arun says; “We cater to a niche market hence the experience one gets when they visit any of our stores has to stand out. Our technology and product speak for themselves and even though we offer premium products, it is not a threat. Competition is part and parcel of any market”.
India holds immense potential for growth in the lingerie industry which has been proven by the large number of international brands that have forayed into the markets over the past few years. The markets are shifting from unorganised to organised and the changing lifestyle of people is helping them buy more, even at higher prices. The market is projected to grow by 18 per cent and will reach almost $3 billion by 2015. The premium and super-premium segments of the industry are advancing following a consumer shift from economy and mid-market segments to the premium segment, while the low and economy segment is gaining from the industry being more organised. Arun further explains that people today are ready to talk about lingerie they know what they want and are willing to try new products. Lingerie is becoming a planned purchase. As the mall culture is on a constant rise, the lingerie market should grow rapidly as well. A lot of malls have lingerie boutique stores and the new age consumer will easily overcome the stigma of buying lingerie. Soon, it will be as easy to buy lingerie as it is to buy any other garment.
Yet the forecast for the lingerie market worldwide only indicates a less than one per cent of growth in the past seven years for established brands while emerging brands grew at 14 per cent. This growth maybe slow but it is definitely steady and offers promising franchise business opportunities.