CHANGING CONSUMER TRENDS IN INDIA
The last twenty years has seen a metamorphosis in terms of lifestyle
preferences and buying trends among Indian consumers. With the opening up of the
Indian economy in 1991, urban India embraced consumerism and a hunger for
branded products emerged. A young working population, that lives by the "work hard
and live well" mantra, has powered the Indian retail market through the first decade of
the millennium resulting in strong year on year growth over the last few years.
The change in consumer preferences is most apparent in fashion apparel.
Men were the first early adapters of western-wear in India, with many converting to
readymade garments in the early 90's. Over the last decade, we have also seen a
significant change in the way women dress, moving from traditional Indian wear to
western or fusion wear a trend that is especially popular in larger cities such as Delhi,
Mumbai and Bangalore.
The growing awareness of global fashion trends has been fuelled by the
internet and the fashion and lifestyle media. As a result, the typical upper middle class
consumer is conscious not only of the international styles but also about the lifestyle
attributes connected to the brand, leading to the significant growth of organized retail
From a business perspective, the dynamics of the Indian market offers us an
exciting opportunity to introduce collections that capture the latest global fashion
trends, whilst also ensuring they are suitable for Indian tastes.
For example, until a few years ago, linen lacked popularity in India. It was
perceived as difficult to care for and wear as it easily creased. However, the
acceptance of linen as a comfortable fabric, perfect for our warm climate, has
increased due to the development of performance enhancing fibres that make it
more crease resistant and therefore easier and smarter to wear. Recognising the
new popularity of linen amongst our customers, we have been able to stretch the
seasons through local sourcing and now offer linen products all year round in both
formal and casualwear. Most popular in West and South, linen now accounts for
15% of our total sales in India.
The popularity of international style and dressing has also seen significant
growth in the lingerie market in India worth Rs 17,470 crores in 2012 the market is
expected to grow by a staggering 54% by 2017. In the last six months, weve seen our
lingerie sales increase by a third as customers continue to look for more choice,
whether everyday underwear, clever lingerie solutions such as innovative shapewear
or glamorous silk and lace pieces. This growing demand is exactly why India was our
first choice international market to launch our brand new Marks & Spencer Lingerie &
Beauty department at our flagship store in Bandra, Mumbai.
The massive influence of Bollywood on fashion continues to be another driver
towards international styles. With almost every second movie now being filmed
abroad, it is common for stars to wear international brands on screen and off it which
influences consumers across the country. Stylish tunics, jeggings and dresses,
commonly worn by the stars, are some of our best selling products. Last month we
were delighted to be joined by Bipasha Basu and Sonakshi Sinha to celebrate the
opening of our largest store in India. The dresses they wore have been a instant hits
with our customers.
What remains clear is while there is changing behavior amongst Indian
consumers; quality and value continue to be at the heart of their purchasing decisions.
The consumer is increasingly savvy, shopping around to ensure that they derive the
best value from their purchases. This means that retailers have to carefully choose
their catalogue and prices. To cater for this, we offer our customers a variety of price
points including outstanding value basics such as M&S Collection t-shirts with
STAYNEW finish which keeps the fabric looking newer for longer and our exclusive
Savile Row Inspired collection which offers customers the very best of British
tailoring at affordable prices.
With rising incomes among the Indian middle class and continued popularity of
international fashions; we believe the demand for western-wear will continue to
increase across the country. There is a real opportunity for us, not only in established
cities like Delhi but smaller cities such as Kochi and Surat, where we are already
seeing customers embrace our clothing collections and we expect will fuel the next
wave in modern retail.