Lingerie has been an intimate part of a woman’s life since long. The lingerie of yore was home or tailor made. It was uncomfortable and sometimes painful to wear. Over time, things have changed and lingerie has become not only comfortable and sensuous, but also a brand in itself. “Apart from being a bare necessity, lingerie has quietly slipped into the luxury bracket,” says Nischal Puri, MD, Brands India.
Puri says the Indian lingerie market has undergone a transformational phase over the past few years. During this time, there has been much innovation in the making of lingerie and technology has also influenced this. Growing number of working women, changing fashion trends, the increased awareness about better fits, quality, brands, colours, styling, increasing per capita disposable income, rising level of information and media exposure and the entry of a large number of foreign brands have given the industry a new dimension. Indian women have become choosy and give importance to lingerie, as discernable from the increased spend on it. This changed attitude is also because of changing dress codes and the transformations in social mindset. The modern woman is boldly going where no woman has gone before, and her lingerie naturally follows.
The lingerie market in India
The lingerie market in India can be classified into super-premium, premium, mid-market and economy and mass market segments. A major share of the lingerie market is held by the mid-market and economy segments, in terms of both value and volume. The super-premium and premium segments are relatively smaller, but fast-growing segments. In the present scenario, the premium and super premium segments of the lingerie industry are advancing following a consumer shift from economy and mid-market segment to the premium segment.
Sales channels that are capitalising on the growing Indian lingerie market are the Multi Brand Outlets (MBOs), hosiery products outlets and large format stores (LFS). Top lingerie manufacturers in India have an entrenched and a strong presence in MBOs and LFS serviced through network of distributors or directly from warehouses.
The influx of large international brands in the Indian market, the growth of organised retail and more choices for the Indian women have helped the Indian economy in witnessing a phenomenal growth. The advent of international brands in the Indian market place has brought about some realignment in the fragmented lingerie market. The brands have started advertising boldly through advertisements, fashion shows, etc, and are trying to understand the consumer’s preference. This, perhaps, is the reason why the premium and super-premium segments of the lingerie industry, with brassieres priced above Rs 200 and mostly characterised by the presence of international brands, are witnessing higher growth as compared to mid-market and low/economy segments.
According to a research report by CARE, in volume terms, the women’s lingerie segment holds a 52 per cent share of the total innerwear market in India. In value terms, the women’s lingerie segment holds a 66 per cent share of the total innerwear market, thereby enjoying a higher Average Selling Price (ASP) as compared to the men’s innerwear market. Overall, the lingerie industry in India is expected to grow at a CAGR of 18.3% over the period 2009-2014. It is currently estimated at INR79bn and is expected to be worth INR183bn in 2014. It may not be an exaggeration to say that Indian lingerie might become the next fashion fad in India.
Trends and growth prospects
One of the most visible trends that have been observed in the last few years is consumer neutrality and consumer apathy towards the pricing of innerwear. The aggressive growth observed in the premium and super premium segments is testimony to the fact that consumers have moved beyond their over-sensitivity to pricing.
With the rapidly spreading mall culture, the Indian lingerie market is all set to grow further in the future. With the popularity of lingerie boutiques in shopping malls, the stigma of buying and wearing lingerie is now a thing of the past. Times are changing and young women want lots of varieties, styles and colours in their wardrobes. Hence, taking over dull monochromes, a lot of overtly feminine shades have appeared in the market. Companies are constantly bringing out new lingerie collections that make women feel comfortable, and at the same time, look stylish and glamorous. Intricate detailing and decorative seams are also the in-thing in lingerie today. “Fabrics like Italian silks, satins, chiffons, French and Italian laces are extremely popular,” Puri says.