As the consumer needs or the sales platforms changed, so did the methodology to create the lifestyle brands. Lifestyle brands started taking prominence 25 years back. And since then, in every five years, the brand building process has become more challenging. While there could be deviations, however, here is how the majority of the brands saw their success.
Most powerful brands, especially in the apparel/lifestyle stage, have been around for 20 odd years. That was the time when brands were made by offering tangible quality better than the unorganised market. Quality was the main differentiator!
Arrow came from Arvind Mills; Louis Phillippe, Van Heusen, Allen Solly came from Coats Viella, a yarn company. The strength to leverage for brands was the ability to produce better quality. Other examples being Fabindia, Bata, Mufti jeans, adidas, Park Avenue, ColourPlus, etc.
Quality + Price
Consumers assumed quality as a given aspect of any brand. They started to seek quality at an attractive price. About 10-15 years back, national brands were created through an anchor of price.
Large format stores played a significant role in the same. Melange, Rangmanch, CODE, Aurelia, Duke, campus, Peter England, John Players, etc., emerged and became prominent brands quickly.
Quality + Price + Convenience
E-commerce came into India about a decade back. It was a new and powerful channel of sales. Growing at a very fast pace and still expected to grow at 25 per cent CAGR for next couple of years, it opened another platform for brands to be created.
The next set of brands are also coming from the e-commerce sector. The huge opportunity gave wings to labels which were willing to make fashionable supplies, at attractive prices, and help consumers look good. They relied on styling, fashion, better looks over better quality, etc. Wrogn, Shree, Asin, HRX, Roadster, Imara, Symbol, Abof, Anouk are few such brands that saw phenomenal growth in a very short period of time.
Quality + Price + Convenience + Instant Fashion
As consumers became more educated and demanding with time, they started expecting hot fashion off the ramp walks, in their wardrobes in no time. And this led to the emergence of data-centric, AI-driven brands.
The task was tough. Yet, markets responded and created a very nimble and agile supply chain which was ready to experiment with smaller quantities and then make larger quantities of bestsellers. India brought real fast fashion to its consumers. And these brands were able to give a tough fight to international brands/formats. Now fashion has become instant with the coming up of names like FabAlley, Indya, Moda Rapido, Highlander, Tokyo Talkies, 20 Dresses, The Garage Company, etc.
Quality + Price + Convenience + Instant Fashion + Community Endorsement
With such rapid influx and creation of brands and the incessant messages, notifications, pop ups, consumers have become confused and suspicious, as to whom to trust and what to buy.
Efficacy of direct marketing has dropped and surrogate/indirect marketing has improved. Influencer marketing, user generated content, video commerce, Live commerce, social commerce are all originating from the need of consumers to get suggestions from people they can trust.
They could be fashion experts with a fan following upto a million or designers with a couple of millions of Insta followers, or TikTok/chingari artists, who in pursuit of promoting themselves, also promote the brands as well… Friends also take opinions on WhatsApp/social media… Collaborative buying is the new trend.
Shein is one of the glaring examples. With US $ 13 billion worth of sales and more than US $ 100 billion market capitalisation, Shein has created an agile supply chain of fast fashion and then leveraged social video platforms such as TikTok, YouTube, influencer Instagram to become a brand/site of choice. Although it’s banned in India, in the US, every third person is an active user of this brand.
Large e-commerce portals have invested into social commerce, like Meesho, Dal share, M Studio by Myntra, etc. Last year in November, M-Live by Myntra started to attract consumers and Flipkart came into video commerce through Moj, etc., early this year.
In these times, chances are that the brand’s life is shorter. And the brands would emerge faster. However they may give space to new brands quickly. So, what would be needed?
Brands would have to develop deep insight into storytelling, community building, consumer service and consumer-generated content which should be authentic and raw. Besides, they have to learn new ways to provide an enticing story to the consumer.
Brands would also have to keep on developing a supply chain which is nimble, cost-effective and may be digitised. Given the amount of developmental work required, either brands would have to invest in the designing and sampling facility or enrol and enable the manufacturers to do the same. Speed has become immensely important.
Indian factories have not invested enough in the capability of quick and wide sampling and smaller lines. And hence there are only a few factories which are gaining from their professional/new adaptive approach. Factories can possibly create agile set-ups which cater to this demand.
It’s difficult to replicate the Shein model in India, because of the limitation of an inflexible supply chain.
India has shown incredible innovation in ethnic space, from Surat, Jaipur, Kolkata…. However quality and consistency remain a concern. In my personal view, if these sectors also build predictability of quality and delivery, India would churn out a couple of very large brands in times to come.
Metaverse has started to impact the brand creation process. And the digital avatars of models, garments may end up creating new ways of digital brand creation. Perhaps, the future of brand creation would be even more fun and interesting.