E-commerce has revolutionised India's underserved and unorganised lingerie market in the last few years. And cashing in on the awkwardness of the country's women to buy underwear in public in a deeply conservative society is Noida-based lingerie start-up Clovia, which is turning out to be a major player in a market that's projected to have $4 billion sales in the next few years.
The company, which has been in the business for the last six years, has identified the wedding season (October to December and April to July) and Valentine's Day as major growth drivers.
“We have two major seasons; bridal, which typically starts from October and ends in December and in the same month, we start our Valentine campaign which goes on till February. Our marketing budget goes up by 30% in this period. In April, the new summer season picks up,” said Rajeshwar Rao, VP, Digital Marketing, Clovia.
The brand clocked 80% growth in revenue last year and eyes the same this year. In FY17, it posted annual revenue of about Rs 40 crore.
The company, which sees 80% of its sales coming from online, is experiencing a major spike in men buying lingerie for their partners.While in 2016 therewere only 5% men buyers, the percentage has now gone up to 25%. Though men hesitate to buy lingerie offline for women, online has eased this discomfort.“Interestingly, they buy nightwear the most to gift it to their partners," he said.
The brand has always relied on the cost-effective digital advertising as 95% of its marketing budget is spent on the medium.
“Yes, we do plan to advertise in traditional media but it will not be the usual way. Our category demands that we reach our audience in a highly targeted and more personable way. We are also a very ROI-centric marketing team so all our media spends will be trackable and answerable. The rules of digital marketing keep evolving, so we also have to keep adapting our marketing strategy. You can’t really track the end-sale on TV and we don’t want to squander money. Whatever we try to do, we make sure we track.”
Why lingerie brands don't rely on celebrity endorsers
While all the lingerie brands tieup with influencers, none of them have had a woman celebrity to endorse them. Four years ago, Zivame, the leading player in the lingerie category and Clovia's main competitor, came up with its first TVC and till now, it has not associated itself with any big celebrity.
On the other hand, no men’s innerwear brand advertises without a big celebrity. Rao explains this big divide with just a word — distributor-led brands. He says traditional brands that are distributor-led will require a celebrity.
“In five years, we have never thought that we will need a celebrity. We feel our customers are endorsers. They (men’s innerwear) are traditional brands and their approach is distributor-led. We are a digital-native brand; everything we do is trackable. Celebrity-led advertising is unpredictable; however, it can work beautifully if the celebrity personally relates to the brand and is a believer in it like how various athletes endorse brands that they also wear/use for their sports. Whenever we do bring in a celebrity onboard, we will make sure that both brands (Clovia and celebrity) are in perfect synergy. We don’t want to experiment much now and one can’t be sure if getting a celebrity would give you ROI. I don’t want to explore an unpredictable channel.”
Being a digital-native brand, Clovia believes in influencers more than celebrities and doesn’t find the need yet to look out for one.