|The sociological shift
The Hindu Survey of Indian Industry 2011
The fashion scene in India has changed with subtle niches catering to various consumer needs and desires, writes Pranab Barua.
THE Indian apparel Industry has come a long way from the tailoring market to ready-made garments. This can be attributed to a perceptible shift in the Indian consumer psyche. Higher disposable incomes, greater fashion awareness and the need for self expression has created an environment where fashion can thrive.
Fashion in any form reflects a state of a society at a given point of time. Who thought a regular week day like, say Friday, would have a dress code associated with it. The concept of Friday Dressing is now a synonymous with casual / informal but smart dressing. It has now become an accepted norm the world over. Even fashion advertising has matured. From displaying garments as commodities, today, a fashion brand has a string of brand virtues associated with it.
Like in the west, the fashion scene in India, has changed with subtle niches catering to various consumer needs and desires.
The consumer today, is a lot more granular in his or her needs and demands customisation. Further, the brand experience and touch points are critical success determinants in the fashion business.
The overall metric of brand experience still borders around customer delight. Today, it’s not about reaching your customers, but it’s about how you reach them, where you reach them and what happens after you reach them.
Fashion Industry bullish
What initially started as a small scale industry to support the industrial revolution; today has turned into one of the major drivers of growth for the Indian economy and GDP.
According to the annual report 2009-10 of the Ministry of Textiles, this industry not only contributes 4 per cent to India’s GDP but also 14 per cent to the total industrial production and about 17 per cent to the total export earnings.
These figures and numbers draw a picture that does speak more than a thousand words. Starting off as a secondary industry, the textile and apparel industry has gone through a whirlwind of change through the years. Initially, just an exporter of raw materials and cotton, today the textile segment not just exports the same but also finished apparel and this adds about 27 per cent of its total foreign exchange from the exports of the textile industry.
What has lead to the phenomenal growth of this industry? With improved standard of living, favorable demographics, higher purchasing power the consumer is demanding more than just products leading to brands satisfying latent needs. This can also be seen in the growth of the premium and the luxury segments.
This change in the consumer mindset has given this industry the fillip it needed. It is believed the next level of growth is waiting to happen in the Tier 2 and Tier 3 towns .
The basic promise of the Indian textile industry is and will be quality. This has provided a major stepping stone, in becoming one of the leading exporters of cotton yarn. Apart from cotton yarn, India’s production of various other yarn like linen, polyester, silk and viscose, acrylic and multiple blends has made us a critical player in the global market. Various multinational brands are now using Indian fabrics thereby positioning India as a global sourcing hub.
In the last one year, post the recession period, the branded apparel business has grown at an average rate of 25 per cent. And in the coming year it is expected this trend to be maintained.
The next time you are out in a mall or just out shopping, take a look around: you will see an increasing number of international brands all over.....from shoes, to accessories, to clothing to lingerie, they are there everywhere. India is the perfect market for these brands. Indian brands will also benefit from this trend. However, they will need to upgrade in terms of product and retail experience. The ability to provide the consumer with right priced products that are in line with international fashion, combined with a high quality of retail service experience will make the difference between leaders and the 'also rans'.
The Indian fashion industry can be credited with a series of innovations that have captured the consumers’ mind space. Lycra for example found its way in jeans and other garments making it the most versatile value add of all time. Similarly, concepts like wrinkle free shirts and trousers, stretch trousers, best white shirts have made its mark in the retail space. Its no surprise today that fashion houses spend an increasing portion of their dollars on R&D activities to bolster their competitive edge. Who knows as we speak, there’s a new fabric waiting to be launched.
Fashion marries social media
With new media emerging, namely, internet and social – the mechanics of promotion have changed dramatically. Today any fashion product that is launched would need to have a social component attached to it. The social media has given rise to a new trend in fashion marketing. Fashion merchandise being high involvement products have a social voice – participants in the digital world today expect the brand to have a voice.
In film advertising
The fashion industry and the film industry are two industries that work in tandem. While the film industry brings to the larger audience the latest trends in fashion at a much faster pace, the fashion industry is quick to reach its consumers by producing and marketing fashion trends to its consumers. In India, the film industry occupies a special role in every Indian household. What better medium to reach its consumers through the film and its script. Film production houses have capitialised on this win-win situation and thereby create opportunities for brands to be integrated in the film script.
Fashion houses thereby are able to cater to its audience by supporting the film, its characters and the looks created in the film by producing, promoting and selling the merchandise in its exclusive stores. The latest example was the Aamir Khan look in Ghajini with his famous haircut and the waistcoat that become an instant hit with the consumers. The fashion industry in India is poised for rapid growth with newer categories and newer fabrics on the horizon. India’s demographic advantage - burgeoning youth market – coupled with ever increasing disposable incomes is a perfect platform to make a difference to the life of the consumer.
The contents of this message do not necessarily represent the views or policies of Aditya Birla Group.
The author is CEO, Textiles & Apparels Business, The Aditya Birla group.