Why China is the fastest growing lingerie market and what Indian lingerie retail should learn from China?

Chinese model Ming Xi walks down the runway at the 2018 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show on November 8, 2018, at Pier 94 in New York City. Photo: VCG

 

Lingerie market in China is bigger than ever and one of the most successful industries and here is why

What makes China a leader in Lingerie market?

China has strong Western influence. Chinese women choose lingerie just like western women.  Lingerie is a new way of expression just like apparels. Chinese women spend 10% of their expenditure on underwear. Having said that Chinese women are a lot more conservative compared to French women. Foreign brands customise their products for Chinese consumers to keep them satisfied.

Why China is a highly demanding country when it comes to lingerie

1.  Adaptation of Western culture

There is more exposure to Western lifestyle in China when compared to India. West has great influence on apparel fashion in China.   India is still in a cocoon stage when it comes to lingerie market. Yet, It is a fantastic sign of exhibiting great potential to grow big in future.

2. Rising demand from Millennials

Young and enthusiastic Chinese Millennials walking on the street

Young Chinese women are knowledgeable, well aware of what is in trend and are avid users of social media. In India, except for metropolis and huge cities women are more conservative. They are hush-hush about lingerie in general. There are women who still aren’t aware of the importance of lingerie.

3. Growing number of working women

In China greater number of self sufficient working women who have forage for style and crave for comfortable office bras. They are majority in population which has given way to a soaring demand for posh lingerie. Indian women are increasingly coming out to work for themselves. But when it comes to lingerie the importance they give is much lesser when compared to Chinese women. But it is only a sign that the boom of Indian lingerie market is round the corner that it is just a matter of time for all the women come out of their shells.

4. Online shopping

China’s online retail soared to $1 trillion in 2017. Needless to say that both retailers and consumers have benefited from the growth and popularity of E-commerce. Shopping lingerie from websites is nothing new for Chinese customers. Both women and men love the privacy and experience they get from online stores. India’s online shopping habit is increasing constantly in the recent years because of user friendly interface, attractive product images and privacy.

5. Changing fashion trends in lingerie industry

Fashion events of International Lingerie brands are very common in mainland China. The external brands particularly showcase Chinese models for their lingerie shows to connect with audience. Apart from this the vast usage of social media keep the Chinese women up to date with lingerie trends. Indians are becoming progressive and open-minded. Indian women want to explore and are willing to adapt to new lingerie trends. They love comfortable lingerie. They like how lingerie makes them feel confident and beautiful in their own body. They know that lingerie improves their intimate life.  Yet, Indian women are not well-informed about lingerie and they have inadequate knowledge which makes them lag in brand and size knowledge. This affects the Indian lingerie market in a negative manner.

Foreign Lingerie Brands

In China external lingerie brands represent 60% of the underwear market. Domestic brands are only a few which accommodate only 10% of the lingerie market. And there are no significant leaders when it comes to home brands.

Why foreign brands cannot takeover Indian lingerie market in a million years?

We can name a few successful foreign brands in India. But usually these brands go over the top of a huge population. Their products are very expensive. Brand name can bring them only high end customers. Apart from that these brands know only a handful when it comes to lingerie sizing for Indian women.  Customising lingerie for Indian women is another challenge they face.  It will be difficult to subsist against the domestic brands which are aggressive competitors.  Indian lingerie market was worth around $3 billion in 2017. It is predicted to grow to a whooping $ 6.5 billion by 2023. There are a number of reasons why lingerie business in India is “The thing” right now in the market. There is a growing demand for lingerie in general.

Display of lingerie in an Indian lingerie brand store

Besides that,

  1. Increase in middle class population.
  2. Steep rise in the number of financially independent women from middle class families.
  3. Exposure to Lingerie fashion and social media is a non debatable reason for growth.
  4. E-commerce and lingerie sales go hand in hand as online lingerie shopping is desirable in many ways.

Indian lingerie market has a huge potential to grow into a giant lingerie market in the coming years. There is an increasing possibility of domestic brands with a vision of providing comfortable and stylish lingerie to win the race.

Lingerie trend

In China, the major customers are women between 23 and 36 years old. Most girls in China have cup sizes ranging between A and B. Whereas, Indian women size ranges from A to D cup sizes. The most common cup size of Indian women is C though. Chinese women like to wear fashionable yet comfortable lingerie. Also there is a demand for customised lingerie. Indian women are in experimental stage. They want to explore more and are very much interested in trendy undergarments.

 

Lingerie color preference

Best Seller Work Bra displayed on spotlight at a Lingerie store in China

Chinese are generally superstitious especially when it comes to color. Every color signifies a strong meaning in Chinese culture. They don’t prefer the color white much as it is a color of death. And yellow is a pornographic color in China. Purple signifies divinity and immortality.Yet, Chinese girls seem to like the palette in pink.

There were times that Indian women used only white lingerie especially bras; and, dark undies to go with it. Skin colored bras were a trend as it is well hidden under their apparels. E-commerce played a big role in changing the scenario. Websites with models sporting luscious underwear with vibrant attitude must have brought changes in their lingerie taste. Nowadays, Indian women understand the concept of luxury lingerie and are not hesitant to buy the same.

 

Social Media Influence

Chinese women are very active in social media. Chinese fashion bloggers use Twitter and Instagram to showcase their lingerie fashion sense. Women dedicatedly follow these Instagrammers to keep up with their lingerie fashion sense. They are very much interested in knowing what their idols and celebrities wear.

Indian social media followers still needs to break the barrier and to voice out their opinion and preference about lingerie.  There are bloggers and websites bringing the latest lingerie on stage be it twitter or Instagram. But sadly they reach only a lesser number of audiences in India.

Demographic conditions that favour Chinese lingerie market

China is a vast land and hugely populated. High economic and techno metropolis like Tianjin, Sichuan, Hubei, Shanghai, Sentenceghai, Shan Dong, Fujian, Zheijiang are the regions where people are more interested in buying expensive luxury lingerie.

The sales of lingerie started to boom in China since 2008. In 2013 Lingerie market transformed into a roaring $17.8 billion industry. Growing economy is one of the reasons. Apart from that, the demand for good lingerie has swelled in the recent years.

ETAM

When it comes to China’s apparel market it is inevitable to talk about ETAM. ETAM is Europe’s first and largest women lingerie retailer. It is one of the first international fashion companies to launch ETAM group in China in 1994. In 2017 it focused exclusively on lingerie to get back on growth track. ETAM has nearly 3000 stores in China including apparel outlets. ETAM stores in China are more luxurious than in France. This signifies the awareness about lingerie among Chinese women. It is evident that how much west has influenced Chinese lingerie market.

Victoria’s Secret store at 4F WF Central, Dongcheng Beijing China.

Apart from this La Perla, Italian luxury fashion house has 8 stores in mainland China. Recently, Louis Vuitton opened its store in Beijing in 2018. Next, Victoria’s Secret followed suit and opened its flagship store in the same year. It was on cards leading to heavy anticipation while in 2017 Victoria’s Secret jazzed its way to China for Annual fashion show.

China is a potential land for foreign brands to grow and it is a safe bet to nurture lingerie business there.

Domestic Lingerie brands in China

China’s own brands are Beijing aimer, Maniform and Ordifen to name a few. They have improved their quality to compete with overseas brands. They are also started targeting high end customers now.

With all these developments it is predicted to grow to a whooping $33 billion worth industry by the year 2020.

Indian Lingerie Brands

Attractive visual merchandising of a foreign brand store in India

Most of the foreign lingerie brands in India work on joint venture, and franchise model. Triumph is a German lingerie company. There are French lingerie company Enamor, and Canadian brand La senza. Amante is a Sri Lankan brand which has joined the wagon to offer lingerie for high end customers.

 

Captivating website page of multi-brand online store www.Shyaway.com

But most Indian women purchase their lingerie from Indian stores and websites.  Our own brands offer affordable lingerie for the mass without a compromise on quality.

Online Lingerie Shopping

China’s Online Lingerie Retail

There are considerably a large number of Chinese men who purchase for their women online. They like online shopping more than going into a physical store. Chinese women appreciate the privacy that online stores offer.

In China, foreign brands like Etam use only regional language Mandarin on their websites, not English!! They optimize their websites for Baidu search engine and not Google. The websites support most commonly used mobile payment methods in China. They still send emails to customers for follow-ups and promotions on a regular basis.

India’s Online Lingerie Retail

There is no second thought that E-commerce has been a game changer in the Indian retail sector. An online lingerie store is more than what Indian women could ask for. It’s a blessing in many ways. Online shopping has increased the awareness about lingerie and the way we looked at lingerie.

Yet, Indian online websites should work towards offering a hassle-free shopping experience for customers to stay on top in a competitive market. Images are the first invite to a website. Stylish and high resolution images pull the customers towards buying the products. It’s important for Indian online lingerie stores to keep new and trendy products in the pipe line.  The products should be available on the website for the customer to purchase. We didn’t know that social media would gain so much importance in a few years. Nowadays Pinterest’s buyable pins and Instagram’s shoppable feeds are easier ways to make the customers to visit websites.

Conclusion

There is no another thought on India transforming into a top potential lingerie retail market. Yet, we have to study retail markets of other countries especially China to gain more knowledge in lingerie retail business. It will help the Indian market grow in a steady manner and offer unparallel lingerie products in the future. In fact, India can rule the lingerie empire with its own domestic brands unlike China.