World of men’s innerwear UNDERSTANDING THE DYNAMICS

November 24, 2016 written by
Future of Lingerie RetailingNischal Puri

This article marks the fourth chapter of his long exclusive, informative series: ‘What woman want’. This 6 article series will capture the insights of the Indian lingerie market and consumer trends besides noting the dynamics witnessed in this category – as a result of nation wide research by Horizon consulting India. Here as a part of giving our readers a new flavour regarding the realities of the Indian Lingerie market, we have started a column direct from the expert’s pen. With an experience of more than 20 years up his sleeves, Nischal Puri a veteran in the apparel and retail industry today,  has begun his own consultancy firm, Horizon India. After seeing many notable lingerie brands to their glorious present, Puri has now decided to add another feather to his cap and an intent to spread his extensive knowledge and understanding with the industry, he has taken up to penning down the same for us.


Men’s  inner wear segment has emerged as an high activity category in the last decade. The category has witnessed substantial restructuring and high initiatives. If last decade has witnessed category stabilisation then the next decade is expected to be one of much high octane initiatives. ‘

The traditional segmentation of the category into economy, middle, premium and super premium is loosing its relevance in the new emerging market reality. As a norm I am asked by investors trying to understand the category as to how the market is segmented and what is the growth trajectory expected, the keenness to understand the segment also highlights the growing interest amongst the investor community to look benevolently the category.

Largely the reason for this increased interest is the growing number of players who have got listed. With Page Industries, Lovable, Valentine, Lux, Rupa, Dollar being listed and couple of more players expected to get listed in the next couple of years, the hosiery segment as a industry has perhaps one of the maximum number of listed players in comparison to any other industry.

So there must be something topical about the hosiery / inner wear industry where in most players are able to gain scale and hence able to explore and succeed in the primary markets.

The dynamics of the category is indeed very conducive to scale, being a functional and primary need server inner wear segment both men and women has 700 plus labels and brands in India, while almost 80 percent of the players are in the sub 30 cr. top line bracket, its the balance 15% that has garnered substantial market share and have made the category noticeable.

So while the price based segmentation is losing its relevance as most brands have their products in more than 2- 3 segments. The economy brands have products stretching till the middle segment and the premium brands have products stretching till the economy segment. Analyses of the product price wise sales of these premium brands showcases that almost 55% of the contribution comes from economy segment products.


The tug of war

The action in the economy segment is extremely high with brands like Lux, Rupa, Dollar, Dixcy  and Amul haven perfected the distribution model. These hosiery behemoths are at the forefront of supplying to the Indian consumers. Lux and Dollar have one of the best marketing strategy in the category. These brands have at least 35% of their offerings in the midprice segments and have strategies to further strengthen the mid  price point offerings.

Product differentiation in the economy and middle segment is lowest with most brands having almost similar product offerings. Any innovation by one brand is evened out by similar launches by the other players. These segments are the Fast Moving Consumer Apparel (FMCA) wherein the role of marketing is pivotal. The battlefield from hereon will have new ammunition with most of these brands haven crossed 800 cr top line the journey to the 1500 cr topping will be very different. Marketing innovation, product newness and professionalization of the sales function will be some of the key parameters defining the emergence of 1500 cr brands.

The category witnessed lot of action in the mid  to the premium segment. New launches have been almost a routine event, its another matter that not many brands have been able to establish traction. Brands like ONN, Crusoe, Hanes, Zoiro, Chromosome did begin the journey with lot of promise but the consumer appreciation and high consumer loyalty is still eluding these brands. ONN is one of the strongest contender in the kitty, with pan India reach the brand has been slowly but surely establishing its inroads into the consumers cognition set. It is expected that the success in the middle to premium category will be dependent on how fast and how perfectly the brands are able to establish consumer connect by employing 360 degree brand building initiatives. Right from product quality, perfection of the distribution channel, consumer engaging communication and retail  imagery the sooner all the loops are tied the faster the brands will cross the 200 cr mark if that can be regarded as the first milestone.


Coming together for more

Substantial consolidation is being witnessed in the premium men inner wear segment with Arvind retaining brands like CK, Hanes, US Polo. While the consumer awaits action from the brand house, the competitive dynamics will surely witness increased churning as the years pass by. Hanes is perhaps one of the biggest disappointment in the Indian men inner wear segment, despite international lineage the brand failed to establish itself pan India. There are some pockets that are strong for the brand but overall the brand failed to establish itself as a pan India brand. One of the fewer instances in the brand’s India entry strategy wherein the brand moved from a subsidiary based model to licensing model. While the exact financial details are not available in the public domain the key to observe would be how with the new partner of the brand is planning its India strategy. Another surprise has been CK in India. while the luxury market across categories is growing the inner wear success of CK is still eluding.

While analyzing the international brands India strategy it becomes more and more lucid that not all has gone right. Be it Hanes, CK. Fruit Of The Loom, FCUK, Playboy etc, none of them have been able to demonstrate strategic perfection the way Jockey has been able to demonstrate, while the consumers have been expecting and demanding more brands in the premium segment. The brands have to still put together a workable and winning strategy.

What ever be the dynamics one thing is sure, that the segment will keep witnessing launch of newer brands and re launches by existing brands. The brands needs to develop more consumer centric strategies and ensure that they do efforts to understand the consumer more often. The analytics and consumer buying behavior has to be understood before launching a range or a brand, on the contrary its observed that newer products are launched by keeping successful products of existing brands in the centre eventually rolling out similar looking poorly differentiated products. Its no brainer to establish the fate of these products as consumer do not find any thing differentiated in them .

The category welcomes new players and new brands who can establish a perfect exceptionable strategy till then the current market leaders have nothing to worry about.


He is a successful entrepreneur and an established thought leader and consultant. He can be reached at



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