As per a recent report published just after Diwali, it was noted that apparel sales had gone up during the festive season. However, lingerie and undergarments did not feature in this list. The industry leaders in the men’s undergarment category had confirmed the drop in sales and most of them major attributed it to the poor health of small, local retail shops that sell undergarments, which according to them has failed to recover from the double blow of demonetisation and the rollout of the goods and services tax (GST)
On the contrary, a Technopak report published in 2014 mentioned that the growing fashion consciousness among men and women, is pushing up undergarment sales. The report commented that the underwear category will be a prime contributor in the apparel category over the years, contributing to most of its sales number.
Aside of the festive numbers, we wanted to understand the frequency and the shopping trends men follow, when it comes to men’s undergarments.
“New collection reaching the market is a quarterly trend, which gets altered every quarter. On the other hand, the buying trend is mostly dependant on the need and customers below the age of 30 want to buy international brands or brands that are more recognized. Apart from this, majority of the other fraction of TG wants to buy underwear that fits into their pocket. The budget is definitely a concern. But the market is evolving and today along with budget, customers want to keep an eye on the comfort factor and the brand. The preferences can be divided in 60:40 ratio, wherein 40% want to purchase based on brand loyalty and 60% as per budget,” explained Ashok Mukherjee, GM North and East, Zoiro and Amul Macho.
“Today there are more styles than ever before in this segment. The men’s innerwear industry has exploded with innovations and technology. The surprising number of different styles of innerwear is too many to count. For example, now briefs come in low-rise, medium-rise, high-rise, multiple cuts etc. Men’s innerwear styles now also feature a never-ending list. We had a good season and expecting an increase growth in the upcoming season also,” commented Sheela Kochouseph, Chairperson, V-Star Creations Pvt Ltd.
The category thanks to higher purchasing power and better economic capacity is not only exploding with options but the frequency of purchase is also getting moderated each passing year. What was initially a yearly sojourn is now more occasional and frequent.
Evolution of taste
“Indian consumers tend to buy underwear every 3 to 4 months on an average. However, there is a certain category of people like farmer, daily wage earner, etc. who use their innerwear as their outerwear due to their line of work. They rely on innerwear while working. So, in their case the need to change underwear is more frequent. The market has greatly evolved over the years. With changing times, Indian consumers have become more fashion conscious. They like their underwear to be stylish and colourful. North India is the most frequent buying market followed by East, West and South. Our products like Dollar Bigboss, J-Class are for the mass segment, whereas our product like Force NXT competes with brands like Park Avenue, Van Heusen and others, comments Vinod Kumar Gupta, Managing Director, Dollar.
He further adds, “Brand loyalty has been defining sales to a great extent. We have been growing all through the years only because the consumers loyal to the brand have been repeatedly purchasing our product and showing their loyalty towards the brand. Additionally, promotions by our brand ambassador, Akshay Kumar must have pulled a good number of his followers too. Thus, significant branding leads to growth and sales”.
Talking in perspective of celebrity endorsement pulling sales, Sheela Kochouseph mentions, “Celebrity endorsement can help create brand awareness in a way that establishes the brand as a cut above its competitors. With our latest campaign, we joined hands with Shikhar Dhawan as part of our strategy to maximise our presence in the men’s innerwear segment. Looking at the preliminary results, I can honestly say that our approach has really paid off. The growth rate that we have achieved in these past few months has been through the ceiling. So yeah, to answer your question, I believe that celebrities can go a long way in not just maintaining, but increasing the brand salience as well.”
While pondering over the innerwear market in general, she mentioned “The market segment at this point of time is not at its best. There is a very slow footfall across the markets. Despite of this slowdown, the innerwear category, estimated at Rs.27,931 crore, accounts for 10% of the total apparel market and is expected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 10% over the next decade to Rs.74,258 crore.”
In a nutshell, even though the men’s undergarment buying fascination and choices have evolved over the years, but the market as a whole needs more traction to grow in the years to come. As compared to the women’s lingerie segment, the men’s underwear market is still awaiting a marvellous boom in the country.
We conducted a research among consumers across 4 different metros in India, Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, and Kolkata by studying undergarment habits and preferences of more than 1400 men with researchers checking out their purchasing habits from MBO’s, LFS etc. within the age group of 20 to 30 years and 35 to 40 years.
Here’s what we found:
• Premium innerwear imagery, style, international lineage, availability, wear-ability and moisture resistant seems to be the key drivers for selecting a brand while making a purchase for vests and briefs
• 70% men want functional, quality, branded underwear. While 62% have commented that pricing for them also is an added factor apart from these parameters.
• In Delhi, Premium innerwear imagery, innovative designs, superior fabric quality, differentiation, affordability, customization to Indian needs are the key parameters of evaluation while buying vests and briefs.
• In Mumbai, a good innerwear imagery, fashion oriented, 100% cotton blends, celebrity endorsed brand, affordable, exclusive brand, and moisture resistance and anti-bacterial feature are the key parameters of evaluation while buying vests and briefs.
• In Chennai, a good innerwear imagery, innovative designs, trendy colors, celebrity endorsed, exclusive brand, customization to Indian needs and wear-ability are the key parameters of evaluation while buying vests and briefs.
• In Kolkata, a premium innerwear imagery, style, used materials, international lineage, modern and aspiration lifestyle, availability, moisture resistant and wear-ability are the key parameters of evaluation while buying vests and briefs.
• Men generally, tend to buy underwear in single units. Rs.350 is the average a male want to spend on their briefs or boxers.