A look into your cupboard will prove to you that you no longer own ‘basic’ pairs of shoes. There’s one for your office, one for that party you wanted to go to, a few for daily wear and so on. The weight of this change of course, rests with the retailers in the footwear industry who have gradually upgraded their stores and stocks keeping in mind the growing awareness among the customers.
The Indian market is flooded with internationally renowned brands like Nike, Reebok, Carlton London, Franco Leone, Adidas, Puma, Converse and many more. Adherence to fashion trends and a good design sense is what that makes international brands popular with the customers. The current demand for cleaner, casual and contemporary style is something that retailers can keep in mind when stocking up their inventory.
Its not men vs women
Possession of a variety of footwear was something often associated with women. Things have changed now. Arshit, 27, working in an MNC owns nearly 20 pairs of shoes, in different colours and styles. “I have to keep up with trends and I cannot afford to look mismatched at office or at parties,” is Arshit’s defence of owning so many pairs. Often seen in either brown or black shoes, it is not a rare sight to see men sporting coloured shoes in hues of lime-green or red and even silver. Both the genders are conscious of the need for more than just two or three basic pairs of shoes.
The realisation of working people, to make a distinction between office wear and casual footwear has come about in a large way. Along with this, has come the awareness to own accessories which are different from their co-workers. The workplace now has become a place where people experiment with the way they dress and how they look. Formal footwear, although, not available in many colours, nevertheless, have a variety of styles, like moccasins, slip-ons, brogues (for men), dress shoes etc. A noteworthy fact, although, is that the unorganised footwear industry still rules the roost in the formal footwear category.
The media has brought the whole world closer and has heightened the fashion sense of the customers by lending an exposure to international lifestyles and dressing styles. Cable television and the onslaught of the movie world have jolted people into the reality of the importance of looking and dressing well. And footwear forms an important part of this. Some time ago Reebok launched the ‘Goal’ collection. A movie based on football was just the right kind of coverage a sports shoe brand needed. Recently, Disney Consumer Products (DCP) tied up with Yash Raj Films to launch merchandise products for its animated film Roadside Romeo. DCP tied up with Lakhani for the ‘Roadside Romeo’ footwear collection.
Despite the presence of a large number of brands, both national and international, unorganised players of the footwear industry still reign supreme over the market. The simple reason for this is their affordability and proximity to the customer. Purnendu Kumar, Associate VP Technopak informs, “The unorganised sector of the footwear industry holds almost 60 per cent of the market value.” Inexpensive price tags and availability at local markets are key reasons for this.
MBOs and EBOs
A significant fact worth attention is that in spite of brands opting for EBOs for their products, MBOs offer a wide range of brands and are high on the popularity quotient with customers. An EBO presents the customer an exclusive brand with varied styles, but an MBO with its varied styles, more brands, although with a limited collection works as a one-stop-shop for a customer.
A vast scale of opportunity lies for retailers wanting to venture into the footwear industry. Regardless of the competition faced from international brands or the unorganised footwear sector, India’s burgeoning middle class with its disposable income surely presents a profitable picture for the footwear industry.