Christina Moniz, Financial Express / BrandWagon
November 4, 2022
Direct-to-consumer (D2C) lingerie brands, often credited with transforming the category and the way women shop for innerwear, are expanding their offline footprint in response to growing demand from tier-II markets and beyond. Zivame, whose journey began online just over a decade ago in 2011, has grown its offline presence to over 120 stores and also sells through over 4,000 partner outlets. In its recently concluded Grand Lingerie Festival, Zivame saw its sales grow three times,with a 120% increase in new customer acquisition. “Tier-II markets are showing massive potential and though tier-1 remains our highest revenue contributor, we are seeing significant revenue baseline shifts in tier-II locations,” says Khatija Lokhandwala, head of marketing at Zivame. The company has announced that its focus will be retail expansion in the second half of this fiscal, going beyond metros and tier-I markets.
Another decade-old D2C player in the innerwear segment, Cloviais eyeing the immense opportunity presented by smaller markets with aggressive expansion plans in place. “Clovia currently has 45 exclusive brand outlets in the country and has been diversifying its product range, with plans to open 130 outlets by the end of this fiscal. Ours has always been a mass- market brand, and most of the repeat customers come from tier-II and tier-III markets,” explains Pankaj Vermani, founder and CEO, Clovia. He notes that over 65% of its customer base is from the non- metro markets, and average order values are 20% higher in these cities compared to the metros. Earlier this year, Reliance Retail Ventures acquired an 89% stake in Clovia’s parent company (Purple Panda Fashions) for Rs. 950 crore. Vermani adds that Clovia will ben- efit from the conglomerate’s scale and retail expertise, driving up growth and love for the brand. Reliance Retail had picked up 15% stake in Zivame back in 2020.
Shaping the market
The women’s innerwear market in India is set to double to reach $11-12 billion by 2025, according to a report by RedSeer. Aside from the key segments of bras and panties, ancillary products like athleisure, sleepwear, swimwear and lounge wear are also boosting the lingerie category’s growth in the country, as is evident from the widening portfolios of leading brands. The online segment for women’s innerwear is expected to become a $1 billion market by 2025.
Experts believe there is a large opportunity for companies to grow since 60% of the $6-billion women’s intimate wear market in India is unorganised, and the category is still largely underserved.
“The lingerie market is an example of improving supply feeding into a growing demand, and the increasing demand expanding the opportunity for more brands to step in. Larger cities, with their higher income profiles and demand concentration, are the logical first-choice market for companies such as Zivame,” points out Devangshu Dutta, CEO, Third Eyesight.
The competition in the large cities is greater, with a plethora of Indian and global brands, which is why Dutta recommends that e-commerce led companies should push aggressively in smaller markets to drive sustained growth.
The fact that D2C brands have better data sets at their disposal to glean insights about Indian women and their concerns when buying innerwear has also worked in their favour.
“Intimate wear shopping can be overwhelming for a lot of women. Finding the right size and choosing styles for their specific needs requires an environment free of embarrassment and judgement. At Zivame, we help women choose the right size and perfect fit, ensuring a private, comfortable and discreet shopping experience,” says Lokhandwala.
While lingerie can sometimes be prohibitively expensive, Vermani points out that Clovia’s feedback-led design approach helps it keep pricing competitive.
The brand creates each product in small quantities, and uses technology to predict future sales based on customer feedback, thereby determining the right quantities for production. He states, “With this approach, we have created a fashion brand that is low on cost, high on consumer appeal and efficient in inventory, leading to better margins and cash flows.”
(Published in Brandwagon, Financial Express)