As the pandemic continues to ravage the lives of people, one of the biggest challenges for brick-and-mortar stores has been to regain footfall. Thus, in order to remain relevant apparel and lifestyle brands have introduced a clutch of initiatives from shop from home to the launch of comfortable clothing besides expanding online presence, to get the customer shopping. “For our sub brand Label Ritu Kumar, home and WhatsApp shopping accounts for 10-12% of the store led sales. While, online sales account for 14% of the overall sales,” Amrish Kumar, managing director, Ritu Kumar, told BrandWagon Online. The company recently launched ‘Label Basics’ to cater to the trend of work-from-home, athleisure wear. The price of the range begins from Rs 1,500 and is targetted at the younger age group. Further, the company has launched ready to wear brand Aarké to tap into the mid segment of women’s wear.
Meanwhile, Forever New is planning to roll out a relaxed and casual line this summer season for consumers working from home. “Online, we have pressed ahead with discounts and slab based offers on our products to incentivise consumers as there is a dullness in the sentiment and an apprehension to spend,” Dhruv Bogra, country manager India, Forever New, stated. The company claims that sales from online accounts about 25-30% of its overall business, this is up from 15-20% pre-pandemic. Brands such as Forever New, Marks & Spencer are offering steep discounts as much as up to 50%, online. And, United Colors of Benetton, plans to launch its own portal by July-August 2021, as part of its expansion strategy. “Online business accounts for around 20% of our turnover. For us, the medium will continue to grow at 15-20% in the next two-three years,” Sundeep Chugh, CEO and MD, Benetton India, said.
With shopping likely to continue online during the second wave of the pandemic, brands plan to allocate a significant percentage of their marketing dollars on digital platforms, with most of them investing anywhere between 60-70% on the medium. “A significant share of our investments and marketing will go into driving digital engagement with our consumers, engagement with bloggers and building traffic for our website,” Bogra said, adding that the overall marketing spends for FY22 will go up by 20-25%.
Industry stakeholders believe that demand for comfort and lounge wear that is more long lasting, functional and high quality, as ‘Work from Home’ becomes the new normal, is likely to increase. Hence, brands will need to prepare accordingly. “Consumers have also moved towards healthier lifestyles and thus health and wellness has become a priority,” a UNIQLO India spokesperson said. In view of the pandemic, the brand introduced the Shop-from-Home service to deliver products to people in more than 17,000 pin codes across the country.
For Ashwini Deshpande, co-founder and director, Elephant Design, high street fashion brands need to tap into opportunities such as locality specific trunk shows in outdoor spaces, special ranges for work from home, alongside introducing more natural fabrics as the need to look crisply ironed has vanished, but need for comfort is far greater. “These brands also need to go gentler in their communication and not go too edgy. Times are tough and everyone needs all the love and care,” she added further.
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