The Indian lingerie market has been experiencing phenomenal growth during the past five years. From 2009 to 2014, the industry registered an average annual growth of 18.3%. For 2014, total sales are expected to reach Rs 18.3 bn. Although the mass-market and economy segments constitute the largest segments of the market, the super premium and premium have registered the biggest growth in terms of revenues. The top segments are expected to grow from 15.8 percent, to 28 percent.
Traditionally, this kind of growth has not been sustainable. However, the market has been fueled by new forces which were not evident before. Primarily, these are the increased disposable income of young adults, and the new salaried middle-class. Related to the first, is the new-found financial independence and buying power of women. In terms of actual numbers, this may be a small portion of the mid-level lingerie buyers; however, their shift to high-end and expensive items has been felt and has been growing aggressively. Most of the women buy lingerie online in India for the sake of convenience.
Trends and Opportunities
So far, the trend is towards more diversity, with an emphasis on expanding the premium and super-premium lingerie market. This segment of the market has created a lot of attention. For one, it has the biggest growth in online sales. At the same time, the segment also offers the biggest margins for the vendors. This is an almost untapped market for Indian manufacturers as the majority of the items priced in this segment are from foreign brands.
In terms of delivery, online stores have made it a point to be discrete with their packaging. Those who have taken the trouble to ensure prompt overnight delivery have been getting the bigger share of the pie. Mainly by word of mouth, their service has pushed these stores as leaders in online sales. Overnight or same day delivery has become a big selling point, and online stores which have not taken advantage of this service usually end up as second or even third choices.
The lingerie market more than doubled between 2009 and 2014. This growth rate is expected to hold in the immediate future. During the same period, the premium and super-premium segment for the online stores has outperformed the market as a whole. These two segments are usually the ones which are heavily advertised and displayed on online stores. Online stores have geared their marketing efforts and their sales pages towards pushing more of these high ticket items.
With the above mentioned primary reasons for the growth of the Indian lingerie market, there are only a few questions which need to be answered:
– Will there be consumer’s disposable income continue to grow?
– Will the purchasing power of women change?
For the foreseeable future it seems that the economy will hold up and this translates to more disposable income for wage earners, specifically, the young adults who seem to be fueling the lingerie market growth. This is also related to the increasing purchasing power of women, as a whole. There seems to be no end in sight for the increase in women consumers’ purchasing power.
The answer is clear, that the consumer base, who buys lingerie in India, will continue to grow. However, nobody knows when the bubble will burst. This is a good thing for the overall short term. For the longer term, it seems that this is another advantage for online stores which do not carry large inventories of their goods.