Indian fashion is at crossroads as consumer profiles are getting blurred. A consumer in a metro / Tier I city is no different in terms of aspirations and spending power from consumers based in Tier II cities. The increase in consumption and awareness of fashion can be attributed to factors like immense penetration of the Internet as well as increased disposable incomes. The easy access to the Internet and the increase in traveling has made Indian consumers technologically informed, aware of what’s in vogue and hence, highly demanding. The shift in buying power and expectations of new-age, evolved consumers has compelled fashion retailers – both online and offline – to better cater to their desires.
According to Amar Nagaram, Head, Myntra Jabong, the next wave of growth for fashion e-commerce is going to come from non-metro and Tier II and beyond. He says this on the back of an in-depth analysis of Myntra’s 20 million+ customers spread over 23,000 pin codes across the length and breadth of India. Nagaram was speaking to IMAGES Retail Bureau at the sidelines of the 20th Edition of India Fashion Forum, held at Hotel Conrad, Bengaluru on December 17-18, 2019.
As per him, the days of serving the same trend to all of India are in the past.
He feels that people want to be noticed and fashion is a great way to get noticed. Retailers need to provide discerning consumers with the right kind of fashion basis the what’s in vogue at a particular type and also as per the area these consumers are in.“The kind of experience that exists today in Tier II & III is not going to be acceptable a year from now. People are expecting services on the likes of Tier I and metro and this is an area of investment for retailers and brands. This is an area where we have also made some progress but there is a long way ahead of us. We have revisited our network design and inventory placement,” he adds.
Deep Discounts No Longer a Game Changer
With drastically changing behavioral patterns due to growing incomes, discounts offered on products are no longer the primary differentiator for consumers in India, who are ready to spend more for high quality products. According to Nagaram, brand preferences and particular designs have instead, become the prime factors people consider while buying.
“If you look at Myntra’s journey in the last nine months, we have consciously pivoted from deep-discounting to more brand-led, style-led kind of conversations, right from our marketing campaigns to the kind of brands that are coming on-board,” he states. He illustrated with an example, saying that when Myntra had recently launched H&M on its platform, the full-price, in season launch, was an instant hit among consumers.
“It turned out to be one of the biggest brand launches the country had ever seen online and the kind of revenue that we made in the first 7 hours was more than some of their physical stores do in some of the biggest markets across the globe” Nagaram states.
He, however, says that Myntra does follow an affordable pricing strategy, which is very different from a discount-led pricing strategy. The online giant is continuously partnering with brands to see how it can make collections more affordable to consumers in Tier II & III cities and towns.
Emerging Needs of Millennials and Gen-Z Millennials and GenZers are highly dependent on digital technology, buried nose deep into their phones at all times. According to a Myntra study, 2 out of 3 Gen-Z Myntra users – despite being in a physical store – visit the Myntra app and 1 out of 6 actually end up buying from the app.
“Millennials and Gen-Z consumers prefer listening to the advice and reviews of strangers. A like and a comment on social media matters to them more than any guidance family members could give,” states Nagaram.
To connect better with these consumers, Myntra has introduced video cataloguing, helping the online giant become one of the most viewed apps in the country.
“There is no way we can translate all the catalogue into different languages across the country, so instead we introduced videos which drove the adoption of the products much more than what we had anticipated,” he explains.
Technology: Driving the Future
Using technology to democratise fashion and lifestyle and help people look good is the mission of Myntra. The online fashion behemoth has made serious investments in technology and is one of the main reasons why it is now the preferred platform for buying clothes for the younger generation.
The brand doesn’t want to be just a buying and selling platform. It aims to be recognised as a fashion-tech platform for both consumers and brands and Nagaram is convinced that technology is what will help Myntra reach the next level of success. Even, the selection of brands on Myntra is data driven. What users type in the search-bar reveals their expectations and on the basis of this, Myntra finalises which brand to get on-board.
“We are trying to build an eco-system of fashion in this country where we want all of the players in the eco-system to benefit. We understand our consumers and we share this understanding with our partner brands, for we want our brands to be successful. This is how we see ourselves being successful,” he says.
Upgrading Services: Secret to Win Consumers
We solve problems, we take initiatives and since we mostly think ahead of the rest of the players in the field.
“When we start looking at some of the problem statements, we see how we are not there yet with respect to that problem statement. We take initiatives to solve that problem and as we are thinking ahead of rest of the players, it can be termed as an innovation, but that is not the intent,” Nagaram says.
“For example, we have recently launched ‘alteration at doorstep’. Now this is not an innovation, however, this is something that has been done for the first time in the e-commerce space. We just had to figure it how do we do it in a way that it blends into the user experience,” he explains.
The ‘alteration service’ by Myntra is live across 13 cities in partnership with around 500 tailors. With almost 150 alterations taking place per day, Myntra has observed that the rate of returns has gone down significantly.
Myntra & its Recipe of Success
Myntra plans to continue operating in the premium segment, offering the best to consumers. It is also introducing luxury brands on its platform whenever the opportunity presents itself.
“We want to actually focus on getting the best global international brands and Indian brands on Myntra. We are also looking at some adjacent categories which are fast growing and high-margin categories like beauty and kidswear,” Nagaram says.
The e-retailer operates in a very unique segment which is the premium segment catering to a very specific set of user behaviour. This is a set of users who are very high-demanding and less-forgiving. The experience matters to them, more than price or discounts.
Aside from this, its in-house brands are doing roaring business and some – including HRX, Roadster, All About You and House of Pataudi are going international, launching their wares in markets like Canada. Offline, Myntra is working with brands like Lifestyle to do a store-in-store concept where Myntra brands will be a part of some of these stores. The end game, however, explains Nagaram, is to understand what consumers want.
“Investment in understanding these consumers, along with investing in technology to meet the ever-increasing demands of these consumers,and finally equipped with the best talent has helped us weave a success story in India,” Nagaram concludes.