Fashion has seen a consumer shift. From showrooms to web rooms and mobile rooms, from high-fashion to high convenience, and from luxury to home comfort. Cost, convenience, and comfort are sustaining & driving the growth of India’s apparel and fashion market.
‘Lockdowns and more lockdowns’ has been the story of India’s Covid-19 battle with an adverse effect being felt by the country’s retail sector. The apparel market witnessed a 27 percent drop in sales - down to Rs.3,022 billion in 2020 from Rs. 4,129 billion in 2019 - finds a BCG study. An ICRA report states that “A full recovery for big apparel players is likely to be delayed to 2022-23."
Amidst these dark clouds, however, there is a silver lining. While the sales of big fashion labels have dropped, consumer demand hasn’t dried up. It has simply shifted from showrooms to web and mobile rooms, from high-fashion to greater convenience, and from luxury buys to home comfort. This shift can be seen in the form of an uptick in e-commerce sales. Propelled by lockdown-induced demand, India’s e-commerce sector is likely to grow by 84% reaching $111 billion by 2024, says a report by Worldplay FIS.
As the pandemic affected disposable incomes, the apparel category saw a host of new trends. For starters, spending became utility-driven and functional rather than occasion-led, consequently, apparel purchases are now aligned with the new, work-from-home (WFH) lifestyle. For instance, casual wear is now a large part of both men’s and women’s shopping portfolios, with nearly 13% of the total apparel sales being casual wear, says the BCG study.
There has been an upward trend in ‘Zoom fashion’, i.e. more demand for top-wear to suit virtual meetings. With fitness and personal safety coming into focus, athleisure, sportswear, and masks are more shopped for items online. Comfort designs and outfits made from stretch and breathing fabrics are hits in the WFH lifestyle segment. Perhaps, that’s why palazzo trousers have gained over skinny jeans.
However, Bollywood fashion continues to mold the fashion sensibilities of a young and connected audience and India’s fashion brands have been quick to roll out these trends across fast-fashion products underlining the “chic meets comfort at an attractive cost" approach.
Buyers’ focus on value
Post-Covid a common theme that cuts across classes and categories in the apparel industry is 'value buying' Shoppers are looking for clothes that meet their quality & utility expectations and wallet-share has moved from expensive brands to affordable value-for-money labels. As per market estimates, more than 85% of Indian consumers do not prefer to spend on big brands. This is also due to an increase in the number of first-time buyers, leading to more demand at entry-level prices.
Snapdeal’s approach to fashion is based on key factors such as its utility, styling, and sizing - all designed to align with the fashion sensibilities of India. For instance, Snapdeal now launches fresh products every month across categories. It offers seasonally relevant collections, like the ‘summer cool’ range that comes with light fabric quality and soft colours. It has value-buys in ₹249 to ₹499 price range, attractive collections for GenZ and Millennials, and various combo packs, thus making shopping satisfactory and wallet-friendly for all buyer classes.
To support these consumer advantages, Snapdeal focuses on new product development and sourcing. It onboards established and upcoming brands, manufacturers, and exporters from various textile hubs to meet the quality and budget expectations of buyers. It keeps a high bar on quality by onboarding quality-conscious sellers and relies heavily on technology to offer personalised recommendations to buyers to showcase relevant and fresh merchandise.
The results are self-explanatory. In men’s fashion, Snapdeal has grown 2.25 times during the first half of 2021 with T-shirts, polos, shirts, and athleisure apparel leading the way. In women’s fashion, Snapdeal has witnessed 2.5 times the growth during the same period. Some fast-growing items include Kurtis, dresses, nightwear, and activewear. Snapdeal’s value e-commerce strategy has placed it on the fast lane to success. Its Brand waali Quality and Bazaar waali Deal seem to be striking the right chord with India’s fast-growing online fashion buyers.
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