Kidswear market: retailers' new interest

With all the top-notch apparel players entering kidswear market, kids are sure to have a gala time. Cluster of brands including Allen Solly, Arrow, Reebok, Puma, Woodland and Marks & Spencer are ready to make their foray into the lucrative kidswear market. Some international players like Benetton, Pantaloon and Reebok have also roped in characters like Pucca, Ben10 and Power Rangers to tempt the young customers.

Joining the bandwagon 

With most of the leading retailers being part of the kidswear bandwagon, competition has now become tough for all of them, as enticing kids is no more a child’s play. Serious advertising and marketing strategies are required to lure the young customers. While German lifestyle brand Puma announced its entry into the kidswear segment earlier this month in collaboration with Gini and Jony, UK-based retailer Marks & Spencer recently launched its kidswear range.

“We cater to 0-16 year olds, which includes babies, younger boys and girls and older boys and girls. Our range includes a wide variety of styles and we keep refreshing the offerings each season. We have also expanded our range recently to include undergarments, accessories, books and toys. For example, at the moment we supply a wide range of winterwear that include jackets, pullovers and fleecewear, etc. that are unique, for both boys and girls,” said Nandini Sethuraman, marketing director at Marks & Spencer Reliance India.

Sports goods major Reebok launched its kids-wear brand Reebok Junior mid last year.

“We at Reebok realise the growing potential of the kidswear segment. Kids are the ones who have sports on their mind all the time.  We also understand that today’s kids are sporty and conscious of what they wear, so our products are stylish and cater to the needs of the kids and help them fulfill their desires. Junior’s stores will provide a one-stop-shop offering an ever exciting and attractive themed product line for kids. This initiative also reinforces our commitment towards inspiring kids to take up sports,” said Mr Puneet Sewra, Senior Brand Manager, Reebok India.

Today’s kids want options and are more fashion-conscious than what retailers think that is why retail outlets like Reebok Junior keeps on changing their looks, every three months. Zapp (kidswear range from Raymonds) have igloo shaped trial rooms to attract the young customers.

Big task to woo li’l ones

Clearly, the kids are hard-hitting customers and selling to them is no child’s play. Lilliput has recently got into an alliance with Cartoon Network to get their merchandise licensed. Merchandise licensing is a new trend among retailers looking to attract little customers. United Colors of Benetton has capitalised on the Pucca character; Pantaloon has pinned its hope on Disney merchandise; and Reebok too has a deal with Cartoon Network for animated properties such as Ben10, PowerPuff Girls, Johnny Bravo and Dexter.

“We rely on the quality and value of our products to speak for the Marks & Spencer brand and we know that once our customers buy our kidswear range, they keep coming back based on their experience with the same,” said Ms Sethuraman.

While Reebok is trying to attract kids by their Loyalty Programme, it has launched a Juniors Loyalty Card for kids in the age group of 4 -14 years. The program is designed to recognise Reebok’s most valued customers - kids. Kids are the ones who have sports on their mind most of the time, aspiring to be a leading sport star. Thus, Reebok aims to support such kids in bringing them closer to their dreams. Every child who purchases juniors merchandise at exclusive Reebok Juniors store can apply for the card and become member of the young champ privilege club. Members will enjoy a 20 per cent discount at any Reebok Juniors store and also receive regular SMS and e-mail updates on the latest arrivals and exclusive season preview of collections. In addition, the members will also get special privileges to meet cricketers, and attend special sports camps etc. Even Marks and Spencer forms licensing tie-ups time and again with characters that are popular with children. In the past, it had licensing deal with Hello Kitty, Thomas the Tank, and Bob the Builder, etc. and these change frequently based on their global licensing arrangements.

Why kidswear section is booming

Apparel retail industry was once restricted to the men’s and women’s wear only, many major international and national brands tried making their foray into the market, completely neglecting the kidswear section.  But since past few years, apparel retailers have understood the true potential of the kidswear.

“People tend to buy kidswear quite often as children grow rapidly through certain stages. Also,  depending on the location, people buy with changing seasons as well. Today just as parents buy more apparel to keep up with fashion trends, they tend to do the same for their children too, particularly as income levels are on the increase with the growing economic prosperity of Indian customers,” says Ms Sethuraman.

Growing trend among children to go for the branded clothes can burn a hole in their parents pocket but it works as a boon for players in the kidswear industry.

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