Jul 24, 2008

Mktg - No Child's play this

Catch ’em young, could well be marketers’ motto! With children representing a significant demographic segment to marketers and pester power influencing purchase decisions, kidswear manufacturers are wooing young consumers with an array of products.
Besides retail expansion, kidswear brands both Indian and foreign are marrying psychology and marketing to create brand loyalty among the young audience.
“Children not only influence parents’ buying decisions but are also the consumers for the future. Hence, it is important to capture the market slowly,” says Ashwani Chawla, Chairman, Catmoss, a leading kidswear brand.
The kidswear market, stretching from zero-14 years, is currently dominated by players such as Lilliput, the Lakhanis-owned Gini & Jony, Raymond-owned Zapp, Weekender Kids and Catmoss besides international players such as Disney, Freelook and Benetton.
According to a KSA Technopak report, the kids’ apparel market in India is worth about Rs 27,000 crore of which only about Rs 500 crore is accounted for by the organised sector. It is growing at an average of 30-35 per cent annually.
Not surprisingly, marketers are salivating at the sheer size of the industry and devising strategies to expand not just through the retail channel but also through branding and channel communication.
Catmoss is expanding its retail footprint across the country. Besides adding 225 new stores by the end of this fiscal, Catmoss has also partnered with Yashraj Films for film merchandising. “We are the official licensee for apparel and merchandise for Bollywood’s first animated film All About Roadside Romeo. We believe this will give us significant exposure to the venture,” he added.
While issues such as functionality in kids’ garments are of critical importance, retailers are devising plans to drive up volume. With the emergence of kids’ TV channels such as POGO and Hungama TV, the fight for eyeballs is likely to be intense. This too is becoming a major plank for retailers to market their products.
“The biggest task lies in capturing the imagination of the child with innovative eye-catching design. The branding and communication has to be so catchy that children are instantly attracted to the brand,” says Sanjeev Narula, Founder Chairman, Lilliput.
Kidswear prices range from Rs 150 to Rs 5,000. This includes apparel, accessories, shoes and belts. While a majority of the retailers source apparel from markets such as China, Thailand, Egypt and the US, a slew of companies also design and develop their own range, especially ethnicwear. “We experiment with fabric and create designs which are fast moving, depending on the seasons,” explains Chawla.
Companies are also increasing the emphasis on new format stores such as Shoppers Stop, Lifestyle and Westside besides adding to the number of company-owned outlets. Cross-merchandising and loyalty programmes are also used extensively to woo new consumers.
Meanwhile, international brands are looking at the franchising route to expand its presence in India.
Advertisers, on the other hand, believe the marketing needs to be very crisp and clear to reach out to children. “Fashion is very seasonal and marketers need to add zing to their products to retain interest. Besides children outgrow clothes very fast hence new offerings have to be cost-effective and sustainable,” said an industry analyst.
Stating that multi-brand outlets can be explored by retailers, analysts note that the shop-in-shop model can also be explored to step up the volume and create growth in the category.
“Most childrenswear is bought from the neighbourhood shops. But high streets are becoming increasingly popular destinations for shopping for kids’ garments,” says Jiggy George, Executive Director, Cartoon Network Enterprises, India and South Asia.
Cartoon Network Enterprise (CNE), a specialised licensing and merchandising division of Cartoon Network, is beefing up its brand portfolio by branching into the kids’ merchandise business. The company, which entered the merchandise business with Bollywood film Bhootnath, said it is highly bullish on the growth of this division.
George says CNE is also eyeing the ‘character licensing business’. A range of toys will be developed around popular characters such as PowerPuff Girls and Johnny Bravo.
“The product life-cycle is getting shorter and it is especially true of the kidswear segment. It is important to market the products before they become outdated,” he adds

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