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New Product Development Strategies and Methods: Implications for the Indian Readymade Apparel Sector

Written By

Mitali Gupta

Submitted: January 4th, 2022Reviewed: February 8th, 2022Published: April 2nd, 2022

DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.103128

IntechOpen
Innovation, Research and Development and Capital EvaluationEdited by Luigi Aldieri

From the Edited Volume

Innovation, Research and Development and Capital Evaluation [Working Title]

Prof. Luigi Aldieri

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Abstract

Today, the intense global competition in the textile and apparel industry made the firms worldwide to be more innovative and competitive by heavily investing into the New Product Development Strategies and Methods. In this context, the present study attempts to (i) understand New Product Development Approaches and Strategies adopted by key global and domestic brands operating in the Indian market and (ii) derive lessons for the development of future models of New Product Development in the Indian Textile and Apparel Industry. The brands have been selected on the basis of their popularity and positioning in the Indian Textile markets.

Keywords

  • product innovation
  • design
  • textile industry
  • India
  • new product development

1. Introduction

Today, the global competition in the textile and apparel industry has become more intense due to the changes in the global lifestyle trends and patterns and increased per capita consumption over the last few decades. To compete in the future, the firms worldwide are immensely resorting to be innovative while reducing cycle times and cutting costs which can be achieved by heavily investing in the New Product Development Strategies and Methods, which has been termed as one of the ‘riskiest’ and ‘most important’ endeavours of the modern corporation [1]. In fact, today, the role and importance of innovation is seen to be more significant towards achieving sustainable development and social welfare than economic growth alone of a firm/country pair [2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9].

The Global Apparel market is close to 2.3% of world GDP with Europe, USA and China being the largest markets. However, the year 2020–2021 witnessed a lot of changes in the Global Apparel Industry owing to the Covid-19 pandemic which has largely impacted the domestic and overseas apparel markets of India as well. As, the pandemic forced people to stay at home, the online apparel sales surged during the last 2 years, prompting many brands to offer their unique product lines through fast-track digitization and e-commerce platforms leading largely to the occurrence of supply side innovations. Since the apparel business is considered to be one of the most challenging businesses as factors such as short product life cycle, volatile fashions, unpredictable market trends and impulse purchase nature of the customer are the ones which drive the sector’s demand at large, keeping up pace with such factors in these times of uncertainties would be an additional challenge to be addressed by both the national and multi-national apparel brands operating in India along with the strategic management of their core organisation policies.

The Indian Textile Industry, one of the oldest manufacturing sectors in the country, has been known for its overwhelming presence in the economic life of the country while playing a pivotal role through its contribution to the total industrial output (14% to industrial production and 4% to the GDP), employment generation (direct employment to about 35 million people which includes a substantial number of SC/ST and women population) and the total export earnings (17% share). Endowed with the largest loom age in the world, the second highest spindle age (accounting for 24% of the world’s spindle capacity next only to China), a strong multi-fibre raw material base, a vast pool of skilled workers, flexible production systems, a dynamic entrepreneurship together with vibrant design creativity, the Indian Textile Industry has been growing at a CAGR of 10.23% and is as diverse and complex as the country itself. India is the second largest producer of textiles and garments and sixth largest exporter of textiles spanning apparel, home and technical products in the world. According to the data from McKinsey’s Fashion Scope, India’s clothing and garment market is forecast to be worth over $59.3 billion in 2022.

However, it is to be noted that despite its substantial contribution, the share of investment in R&D per capita is very low in the Indian Textile industry as compared to the other developed countries. The industry is largely decentralised in nature wherein only 4%–5% of the total cloth production comes from the organised sector. The absence of innovation in Product Design in the Indian Textile Industry is a major policy concern where, in the globalised competitive market, product innovation has become essential for catering to consumer’s ever-changing preferences. Design thinking is now considered essential to product development and the policy implementation depends substantially on the design of products and services. In this context, it is understood that it would be difficult to sustain this sector’s growth and exports unless enterprises are enabled with a pro-active approach towards product innovation and development. Also, there are a very few focussed studies on various approaches and strategies adopted by the Indian companies and the multi-national apparel brands operating in India and their performance owing to adoption of such strategies thus providing an apt rationale for undertaking the present study in an extensive manner.

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2. Concept of product innovation

A Product Innovation is the introduction of a good or service that is altogether ‘New’ or has significantly improved characteristics or intended uses. According to the Green Paper released by the European Commission (1995:6), Innovation can be defined as, “The competitiveness of a country, region or firm now depends predominantly on its capacity to invest in research, know-how, technology and the skills which allow maximum benefit to be derived from these in terms of new products or services” [10] (European Commission, 1995: 6). On a similar note, [3, 11, 12] define innovation as “the generation and implementation of new or improved processes, products/services, production methods or single actions aimed at increasing the competitiveness of an enterprise”. Extending this definition, [3, 12] have defined innovation as “the successful exploitation of a new product, service, process, organization or a new business model which is new to a company, new to a market or new to the world”.

Schumpeter [13] originally classified innovations into five types: new products; new processes (technological process innovation and organisational innovation); new sources of supply/raw materials; new markets and new ways organisation. Gradually, OECD Innovation Manual and other such studies identified four main types of innovation based on the object of change and these are product, process, marketing and organisational innovations [3]. Further according to [14], any new product development undergoes eight stages before it is finally launched in the market. These are: (i) generation of new product ideas, (ii) screening and evaluation of ideas, (iii) concept development and testing, (iv) marketing strategy, (v) business analysis, (vi) product development, (vii) test marketing and (viii) commercialisation.

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3. Methodology

3.1 Objectives and hypothesis of the study

Based on the above discussion, the present study has the following objectives:

  1. To examine various approaches and strategies of product innovation undertaken by various national and multi-national brands operating in India to remain competitive in the domestic and overseas markets. It is hypothesised that the major proportion of development of New Product categories is being undertaken in the category of ‘New Product Lines’ followed by the ‘Addition to the Product Lines’ involved in the process of developing a new product in the Indian Textile Industry.

  2. To provide future policy perspectives on the models of product development strategies to enhance global competitiveness of the Indian Readymade Apparel Companies.

3.2 Methodology of the study

To understand the nature and various dimensions of product innovation in the Textile industry the present study follows the classification made by [1, 15, 16] in their respective papers wherein they have identified the following types of new product categories:

  1. New-to-the world products

    According to [15], these are the products which revolutionise existing product categories or define wholly the ‘new’ ones based on the ever-changing and innovative technologies. [1] identifies such products as the first of their kind and create altogether a new market and customer base. This category represents a very small share of the overall products present in the market.

  2. New product lines

    These are those products which are not new to the world but place a firm into a new product line and thus diversify the product portfolio of the company. Studies have shown that they constitute a substantial share of the overall new product launches in the market.

  3. Additions to the product lines/product improvements

    These products constitute line extensions which fit within an existing product line that the firm already produces with an aim to improve/modify the quality or standards of an existing product range. They may also provide enhanced performance or greater perceived value over the existing range of products. According to [1, 16], this category constitutes one of the largest share of overall categories of the New Product Development in the market. This process is basically about differentiating products to gain edge over the competitor’s products and usually practiced by small business firms which are constrained by their resources to create an altogether a new product.

  4. Repositioning products for a newer application or customer base

    Repositioning has been identified as a new application for the existing products, solving a new problem and or serving the new customer base.

  5. Cost reductions strategies

    These are those products which are designed to replace existing products at a lower cost while offering similar benefits and performance. These are also considered to be the dominant strategies for capturing a given market or customer base.

The present study attempts to include and capture various dimensions of the above product categories in detail by presenting the case of 12 national and multi-national apparel brands operating in India. The study has been conducted by undertaking rigorous desk research and in-depth interviews of the professionals constituting the core team responsible for undertaking R&D activities in a given company. The selection of the brands is based largely on the share of market penetration and popularity of a brand in a particular category of clothing.

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4. New product development in the textile and apparel industry in India

The Readymade Garment Sector of India is largely comprised of three main types of clothing: (i) formal wear, (ii) casual wear (which largely includes sports-wear and active wear also and to an extent innerwear/sleepwear as well) and (iii) traditional or ethnic wear. We discuss product development strategies separately under each of the above mentioned categories.

4.1 Formal clothing

Some of the major players in this segment in the Indian market are Raymond, Siyaram’s and Van Heusen and their product development strategies are shown in Table 1 below.

Strategy of product innovationRaymondSiyarams’Van Heusen
New-to-the-world products
New product lines
Additions to the product Lines/product improvement
Repositioning
Cost reductions

Table 1.

Strategies of new product development in the Indian formal clothing segment.

Source: Author’s own assessment of the Product Portfolio of the Apparel brands.

4.1.1 The Raymond group

The Raymond Group, established in 1925, constitutes one of the most respected and largest apparel manufacturers in the country reckoned for delivering world class fabrics to its customers from the past nine decades. The company has 60% market share in the overall Indian Suiting business which amounts to a total of Rs. 18,000 crores and today has become the largest exporter of men’s suits in the world. It operates through a vast network of 700 stores and 200+ cities in India and worldwide and is one of the largest horizontally and vertically integrated worsted suiting manufacturer in the world. It has its headquarters in Mumbai, Maharashtra and owns many production facilities in the overseas markets as well. The well-known brands under this company are Park Avenue, Raymond Premium Apparel, Parx, Colour Plus and Ethnix. The state of the art and wholly owned subsidiaries of the Raymond Group such as Silver Spark Apparel Ltd., Celebrations Apparel Ltd. and Ever Blue Apparel Ltd. produce crafts suits, trousers, shirts and Jeans for the leading fashion labels across the world.

4.1.1.1 Major innovation strategies

  1. New-to-the-world products: The Company has recently launched a first-of-its-kind, anti-viral technology-based fabric–VIRASAFE, which has been proven effective to fight against bacteria and viruses and also is an anti-odour fabric. It also pioneered the innovative concept of ‘Customised Clothing’ via launching of ‘Raymond Made to Measure’.

  2. New product lines: Since inception, Raymond has been heralded for creating numerous pioneering innovations in turn creating a leadership position for itself in the market and specifically catering to the mass and premium class of customers. The company has strong fibre-to-fabric manufacturing capabilities and is a textile powerhouse with state-of-the-art modern infrastructure and led by the strong product development team with collaborations with Italian designers. Raymond has on offer a wide range of quality shirting and suiting fabrics across a plethora of options such as Worsted Fabrics, Cotton, Wool blends, Linen, and Denim. It has also emerged as the largest over-the-counter (OTC) branded shirting player in the domestic organised market since its launch in 2015. The company recently launched ‘All Black Collection’ which has been the most comprehensive collection ever launched with over 1000 styles of black suiting fabric and it was like a poetic ode to the black fabric.

  3. Repositioning: The company, in the last 5 years has set its target to attract young consumers especially millennials and the corporate travellers whose preference has shifted towards smart, casual and ‘wrinkle-free’ fabrics.

4.1.2 Siyaram’s silks

Siyaram Silk Mills Ltd. (SSM) is part of the Siyaram Poddar Group, which is a small cap company with a market cap of Rs. 936.75 Cr. In 2013 the company was voted as the most trusted brand by Economic times and Nielsen Media Research. It is headquartered in the Kamala Mills compound, Lower Parel, Mumbai and has an integrated distribution network of over 0.1 million retail footprints and 170 branded showrooms spread across the country. It is India’s largest producer of blended high fashion suiting/shirting fabrics in India and enjoys the unparalleled legacy of being the most preferred brand of both urban and rural India for four decades now as it has carved a niche in the wardrobe and hearts of its elite loyalists for creating a melange of cultural intricacies and avant-garde which has been synonymous with high quality, continuous innovation and iconic futuristic designs that are local at heart and international in appeal.

4.1.2.1 Major innovation strategies

  1. New product lines: With a firm belief in business ethics and corporate sustainability and its cutting-edge in-house research and development team, Siyaram’s ably houses an annual production of over 80 million meters of fabrics annually which provides a diverse range of fabrics such as polyester, viscose, polyester cotton, 100% cotton, 100% wool, 100% linen, TR, etc. Being an ISO 9001:2008 certified company, Siyaram’s has garnered an expertise in every facet of production including weaving, dyeing, finishing, and garmenting. In 1991, the company ventured into the readymade garment segment by introducing Oxemberg, in 1995 launched J. Hampstead in the market with 100% pure worsted suiting fabrics in India and in 2001 it launched Mistair, a premium suiting brand meant particularly for high end class. In 2004, the brand launched its new product lines in the form of uniform, children’s clothing, and a women’s brand named ‘Siya’ and further plans to develop an exclusive range of fabrics in long staple cotton, Giza cotton, linen, wool cashmere, wool-silk-linen, silk, wool blends, and jacketing fabrics in linen. Later in 2015, the Company announced its global venture with a prominent Italian brand, Cadini.

4.1.3 Van Huesen

Van Heusen is India’s premium fashion brand for men and women from Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail Limited and is all about modernity, sharpness, energy and heritage with its stylish, exclusive and trendy designs.

4.1.3.1 Major innovation strategies

  1. New-to-the-world products: The brand is credited with the launching of several innovations in the market such as ‘best white shirt in 2015’. Recently, the brand has launched another innovative solution that has revolutionised every consumer’s wardrobe which is labelled as `MYFIT’ Collection whose USP lies in creating the perfect fitting garment across every body type, a brilliant feat achieved by any readymade apparel brand for the first time in the country. The brand is getting 100 orders every day under MYFIT Collection within 3 months of its launch. Yet another innovative range of formal wear Collection was launched by the Company in the form of 7-in-1 Suit Collection, which happened to be a unique concept. The collection allows flexibility for the wearer to get seven different looks from a distinct suit combination which comprises blazer, a reversible waistcoat and not one but two knitted trousers. With the launch of this bold and impactful range of occasion wear the brand has challenged the stereotype dressing (that a single classic suit can be donned not only once but multiple times during separate occasions, taking the fashion quotient to a new high). Featuring a repertoire of colours in warm earthy tones to colder shades of blue and stone, the collection highlights the dynamic transformation, efficiency and power.

    The brand has always been developing new apparel technology to enhance the quality, comfort and style of its existing ranges. Some of its popular product lines are: (i) Van Heusen Commuter: power to move with built in Flex technology representing versatility, comfort and style whether running between boardrooms or jet-setting the globe; (ii) Van Heusen Performa: suits crafted with cutting edge Nano-Technologies and high-twist yarn to help one handle the tough times of life; (iii) Van Heusen Move: this collection was introduced with Future Fit Stretch Technology for unrivalled flexibility and freedom of movement in business wear by blending 98% wool with 2% elastane for enhanced flexibility and (iv) Van Heusen Evercool: this collection combines two revolutionary technologies to bring to the customers one of the ‘coolest suit’ in the market which was developed in Switzerland through Scholler technologies and cold-black technology that enables dark fabrics to reflect UV and Infrared heat and light.

  2. New product lines: Seizing the opportunity of ‘Work from Home’ due to Covid-19, Van Heusen has recently launched its ‘sub-brand Denim Labs’ with a new campaign featuring actor Jacqueline Fernandes in the ‘new blue’. Van Heusen’s product design and R&D team is constantly churning new ideas for expansion which has launched its range of Innerwear, Athleisure, Active wear, lab-licenced masks (with germicidal technology that claims to disable the Sars-Cov2 virus on contact).

  3. Repositioning: With these new lines of production, the company attempts to target consumers in the age group of 20–35 who majorly happen to be youngsters entering the job market as mid-level and senior-level professionals.

4.2 Casual/sportswear/active-wear

Some of the well-known brands under the category of Casual/Active/Sportswear in the Indian market are Mufti, Indian Terrain, Flying Machine, Provogue and Allen Solly (Table 2). Their NPD strategies are discussed below.

Strategy of product innovationMuftiFlying machineAllen Solly
New-to-the-world products
New product lines
Additions to the product Lines/product improvement
Repositioning
Cost reductions

Table 2.

Strategies of new product development in the casual/active-wear clothing segment.

Source: Author’s own assessment of the Product Portfolio of the Apparel brands.

4.2.1 Mufti

4.2.1.1 Opportunity identification

The 90s was a period where India was going through a transition in fashion and the creators of this brand, Mr. Kamal Kushlani saw an opportunity to create a casualwear brand which became the first global fashion brand with Indian roots. Mufti was launched in 1998 with one driving ambition, to provide an alternative dressing solution, that did not conform to the ‘uniform’ codes of mainstream fashion. It currently retails through more than 1500 points of sale across India and has its own website to offer products via online shopping all over India. It has also implemented below-the-line approach in terms of niche marketing and distributed flyers at high-traffic routes, motels and malls. The company has been continuously putting out new designs without any substantial repetition which has gained it a huge recognition among the casual-wear oriented youth consumers and it soon became the most edgy casualwear brand even picked up by the celebrity stylists. The designs have been inspired through a rich interaction of culture, travel, people and places which are quite imaginative and convey Indian spirit with International codes of fashion.

4.2.1.2 Major innovation strategies

  1. New-to-the-world products: It introduced club wear, street wear joggers from denim and turn-up sleeves which were hitherto unknown in the Indian market and was the first to make an entire range of jeans in stretch (for men), that was later adopted by the world. The brand revolutionised the basic category of shirts, which were of free-size and silhouette in the late 90s by shortening their length and making them tapered at the waist. After a couple of years they started selling jeans with Lycra and went against the conventional rough and tough denim fabric to suit the needs of the travelling and active consumer.

  2. New product lines: When athleisure fashion spread in the market like wildfire with sudden influx of joggers, Mufti started creating denim joggers to provide durability to this popular product category.

4.2.2 Flying machine

Flying Machine is India’s first home-grown denim brand owned by Arvind Mills’ garments division and one of the coolest youth apparel brands in the country. The company was launched in the year 1980 when only smuggled jeans was available in the market. By 1994 it had become a leader in branded jeans in India and is still seen as a trendy and premium casualwear brand. The brand chooses to be a trendsetter rather than a fad-follower and this attitude is reflected in each and every of its products. Flying Machine is primarily a B and C town brand and has been synonymous with authentic details, original graphics, first in class urban innovation and true Italian styling.

4.2.2.1 Major innovative strategies

  1. New-to-the-world products: Flying machine has attained 23 times rise in its Gross Merchandise Value (GMV) by deploying Rubicon technology which has not only increased its online visibility, but also strengthened its marketplace business and sales quite significantly.

  2. New product lines: The Company follows the fashion cycle and plans only 60–70% of their collection in advance and do the rest 30% on the run. It recently launched the ‘Young and Bold’ Collection targeting the college students and early first jobbers between the age group 15–21. They have recently launched women’s wear and party wear and related accessories which is also receiving a good response from the customers. In 2007, as a part of its re-launch phase, the brand roped in Italian designer Chicco (pronounced Khee-co) to help reinvent its design philosophy to be able to cater to an all-new Indian consumer. While Chicco was brought on board to take design to the next level, JHP-London was signed on to partner the brand’s transformation at the retail level. As a result, the brand achieved a remarkable makeover through a new and urban store-format across the country.

  3. Additions to the product lines: Flying Machine’s five-pocket jeans with elaborate washes, for graphics, cut and sew details are the most popular under this category.

4.2.3 Allen Solly

The Aditya Birla apparel brand ‘Allen Solly’ is one of the exclusive brands that entered in the Indian market in 1993. Founded by William Hollin in 1744, Allen Solly is an extensive brand focussing on western style dressing and has set the trend in the changing workplace culture by introducing casual work apparels for working men and women. This product concept became very successful in the Indian market as work culture in India became much more relaxed than before, with the advent of the multinational companies into the Indian market which started relaxing their formal dressing norms worldwide. The company works extensively work over new designs with changes in fashion trends and with the extensive dynamic market in the textile industry, the brand has maintained its brand image with maintained quality and customer services. The brand can be best seen as ‘comfort wear’ for the young working professionals (in the age-group of 24–28 years) primarily based in Metro and Tier-I cities.

4.2.3.1 Major innovation strategies

  1. New product lines: Recently the brand has launched the ‘Go’ trousers – a combination of stretch and wrinkle-free work trousers. The brand has also added new categories to its product line – tee shirts, winter-wear, suits, blazers and basic accessories such as ties, belts and socks. Recently the brand has introduced the concept of ‘Friday Dressing’ for women also which represents more of a relaxed work wear rather than strictly being formal. Ideas of ‘Friday dressing’ was specially introduced to target working people and their need of looking cool on Fridays in the office. Infact this is the only brand so far in the Indian market which is specifically focussed on women’s professional as well as comfort dressing.

  2. Cost reduction strategies: The strong supply chain network of the Aditya Birla Group has largely helped the brand to minimise its costs and deliver its products at an affordable price range as the brand targets young customers majorly.

4.3 Traditional/ethnic wear

Among the traditional clothing segments the most popular brands in the Indian market are Biba, Manyavar and Fabindia (Table 3).

Strategy of product innovationBibaManyavarFabindia
New-to-the-world products
New product lines
Additions to the product lines/product improvement
Repositioning
Cost reductions

Table 3.

Strategies of new product development in the traditional/ethnic wear clothing segment.

Source: Author’s own assessment of the Product Portfolio of the Apparel brands.

4.3.1 Biba

Biba was first launched by Meena Bindra in 1988 with a small boutique in Mumbai. Today, it is a market leader in affordable occasion wear and with a legacy of over two decades, has been the emissary of evolving fashion for the modern Indian women of substance and strength by presenting them with beautiful and elegant ethnic wear which are much more than just traditional silhouettes. Biba became the first national brand to be recognised for its ethnic wear and ethnic-western mix and is currently available in 230 physical stores across 105 Indian cities and is also planning to take it to the overseas market as well. The label has been growing at a CAGR of more than 30% for the last 5 years and has also partnered with major retail chains such as Lifestyle and Central.

The brand has recently launched a new logo which has been inspired from a ‘peacock feather’, representing elegance and pride. The font has also been changed while the red colour has been retained from the old logo as it sits very well with the fashion codes and has a very rich association with Indian beauty and glamour. Anjan Roy, Director, Elephant Delhi, the branding firm that has worked closely with the key stakeholders at Biba to develop the new identity informed that, ‘the typography of the new logo has been made more classic, so that it endures the test of time and still stands out as a young, vibrant and fashionable identity’.

4.3.1.1 Major innovation strategies

  1. New product lines: The brand has recently introduced a children’s wear range and also sells textiles. It also launched its first-ever brand campaign conceptualised by Lowe Lintas Bangalore. BIBA believes that there is a lot more to a woman than just her beauty, and that’s what inspired the brand’s Spring Summer 2017 Collection – “Who’s that Girl”. In the due course of time it has also launched Sleepwear and Loungewear Collection which are targeted for the mid-level segment of women who look for style, comfort and quality. The sleepwear category is emerging as a trending fashion, with bridal sleepwear and sleepwear for themed parties gaining increased traction, which acts as a key driver of the market. It recently forged a joint venture with designer Manish Arora, picking up a 51% stake and the new contemporary Indian wear collection would be known as ‘Indian by Manish Arora’. The company also plans to expand its premium collection ‘BIBA by Rohit Bal’.

  2. Repositioning: After completing nearly 20 years, the brand is now segmenting the market by entering the luxury and bridal segments. It plans to further segment the estimated Rs 90,000-crore ethnic market by entering the mass market with either a new brand or through an acquisition. Gradually it launched a value-fashion brand Rangriti, which offers daily/casual wear in the range of Rs. 500–Rs. 2000, to appeal to the masses, which has generated Rs. 60 crore of the sales already.

4.3.2 Manyavar

Known for offering exclusive ethnic-inspired clothing at affordable prices, the brand caters to confident, charming and stylish men who proudly flaunt their ‘desi avatar’ on weddings, parties and other special occasions. There was a huge void in the men’s ethnic wear segment in India and it was over-looked by all the big existing players in the market. No brand considered ethnic wear as ‘fashion’ or even a category to start with. It is in this period that Manyavar was launched by Ravi Modi in 1999 by bringing in some of the country’s finest fashion designers and artisans under one roof. The philosophy of the brand is to transcend cultural and ethnic sensibilities to establish Indian wear as a widely accepted and preferred clothing not only in India but at the global level. The brand has also won several awards and accolades for its pioneering efforts in revitalising ethnic fashion and achieving several milestones in retail business. Today, Manyavar sells its gorgeous sherwanisand kurtasthrough more than 400 outlets located across 200 cities worldwide. The brand garnered INR 820 crore in revenue during FY19 and has been growing at CAGR of 20 percent in the last 5 years.

Each of its products is a signature product; it is a manifestation of in-depth research, creativity and design, workmanship, technology and benchmarking. Off-beat colours like pastels, which were never seen in a groom’s palette, have acquired a large space in men’s ethnic wear range. The brand also incorporated in its design asymmetrical cuts and hemlines which have been recently trending and making the whole range of men’s wear all the more exciting and innovative. It should be noted that Manyavar is one of those rare brands that started advertising through theatres, first in the year 2014. Its early video campaigns were made exclusively for theatre consumption – pre-movie campaigns and interval spots.

4.3.2.1 Major innovation strategies

  1. New product lines: Manyavar started with wedding wear and has over time forayed into celebration, festive and casual wear and later on developed fusion wear. The modern-day brand not only targeted the man of the house but expanded its focus on the whole family, introducing newer collections and also sought to popularise Indian wear for everyday use through lines of cotton kurtasand pyjamas. In the same year, in a breakthrough development, Manyavar launched its women’s ethnic wear collection – ‘Mohey’ which was created to sell particularly traditional wear like lehengas and saris for women. Not leaving behind juniors, the brand also started with Kid’s Ethnic and Fusion Wear line and launched premium men’s wear brand – Twamevlast year. Apart from this, the timeless celebration collection of the brand includes exquisite Sherwanis, Indo-Westerns, Royal Bandhgalas, Classic Kurta-Jackets, and fashion kurtas.

4.3.3 Fabindia

4.3.3.1 Opportunity identification

During the British rule, the handloom industry of India was badly affected due to the advent of power-looms and heavy taxes. Post-independence, the Khadi movement launched by the Father of the Nation, M. K. Gandhi did revive the handloom and textile industry to a certain extent however, with the deepening industrialisation and power looms, cheap and convenient cloth became the norm of the working class. This even caused the weaver population to diminish significantly while forcing them to change their professions as agricultural labourers, daily wage earners making them more and more desperate and vulnerable.

This was the time when Fab India was founded by John Bissell in 1960 who saw a tremendous potential in the handloom textiles of India. The Company started as an Export business at John’s home in New Delhi, exporting furnished goods and subsequently hand-woven fabric to the overseas customers. In 1998, John Bissell passed away, letting his son William Bissell take over the reins. Today Fabindia has become the largest retailer for handloom and handcrafted products in India with more than 300 stores worldwide, an interwoven network of more than 50,000 weavers and 90,000 artisans scattered all over India.

The brand has a unique marketing strategy of connecting with customers through meaningful stories rather than spending big budget on advertising. It organises crafts mornings where artisans speak about their art and experts are invited to speak on importance of using organic products and environmental production. Fabindia has been a brand which is a blend of urban contemporary designs with traditional craftsman techniques, which attracted the urban populace and gave popularity to Fabindia over government owned emporiums. The company has been involved in various CSR activities and is one of the most known brand in India for its work towards the society and has won many awards and accolades for it.

4.3.3.2 Major innovation strategies

  1. New product lines: Its portfolio is broadly categorised into traditional women’s, men’s and kids’ clothing and accessories. The brand also offers western dresses under Fabel brand.

  2. Cost reduction strategies: The target customer of company is middle class consumers in cities of India and abroad and that is why it has adopted competitive pricing for most of its products. However, Fab India applies product line pricing for each of its product wherein a base price is set for the high price sensitive consumer segment and higher quality products are marketed to less price sensitive consumer segment at a premium over the base price. It also does promotional pricing by offering its product at discount prices for a window of time.

4.4 All categories apparel brands

The major brands under this category are Westside, Pantaloons and Zara (Table 4).

Strategy of product innovationWestsidePantaloonsZara
New-to-the-world products
New product lines
Additions to the product lines/product improvement
Repositioning
Cost reductions

Table 4.

Strategies of new product development in all categories apparel brands.

Source: Author’s own assessment of the Product Portfolio of the Apparel brands.

4.4.1 Westside

In the late 1990s, the popular Indian female attire the salwar kameez completely changed its look. The dupatta was set aside, ‘the bottom’ evolved to what is now known as the leggings, palazzos and pants, while the top metamorphosed into the era-defining garment, the ‘kurti’ which completely changed the Indian female ready-made garment sector. Leading this fashion revolution – from a store in south Mumbai’s Hughes Road precinct – was Tata group’s flagship retail store Westside. Westside was established by Mrs. Simone Tata when she acquired the Littlewoods in 1998. Twenty years on, the retail store is now a chain of large-format department stores with 28 in-house brands and 132 stores across the country and constitutes about 96% of Trent revenue, the retail arm of the Tata group.

While an exclusive range of own branded fashion apparel continues to be the mainstay of the chain, the Westside model involves active control all across the value chain including branding, sourcing, logistics, distribution, pricing, display and promotion of almost 90% of the product range retailed. Priced moderately, Westside, over the years, has garnered its own set of loyalists, who prefer the blend of cutting-edge fashion with a touch of Indian-ness. The styles that make it into the shopping basket go through a rigorous process of approvals, starting with the blue seal, silver seal and the final gold seal – each seal, a level of approval for pattern, design, colour palette, etc. The ‘value for money’ tag still sticks, but the styles have gotten bolder, cuts edgier and colours funkier.

4.4.1.1 Major innovation strategies

  1. New product lines: Recently Westside has launched trending-across-the-globe ‘mini-me’ range for children: chino trousers and polo necks for kids who want to imitate their dad’s Friday-dressing or Utsa dresses for little girls.

    Some of the key brands in women’s wear segment are (i) Bombay Paisley: chic, western and contemporary ethnic wear for the experimental and vibrant youth, (ii) Gia: a fashionable casual collection for the curvy women, (iii) L.O.V: is a smart, casual, feminine offering for the 25-plus women and (iv) Zuba: silk and handloom blends with handcrafted embroidery. Other noteworthy brands include Wardrobe, a trendy 9-to-9 fashion for women and Nuon, a young casual fashion brand. In the men’s category, Westside has Ascot, a modern classic lifestyle brand for the discerning man, E.T.A, understated casual wear for contemporary men, and West Sport offers functional and stylish casual mens apparel. In FY’15, the chain launched four new brands, exclusively available at Westside stores. It brought in Wunder Love, the chain’s in-house lingerie brand and Sassy Soda, Westside’s collection of trendy clothing designed for the curvier youth. Apart from tying up with renowned designers such as Narendra Kumar, Priyadarshini Rao, Krishna Mehta, Westside has also tied up exclusively with international brands such as Italian kids wear brand Chicco, Woolworths Bath and Body.

  2. Additions to the product lines/product improvement: Westside took fast fashion a step further by being the first Indian company to launch the Fast N Fab concept.A capsule collection of three to four looks in each brand hits select stores on the third Friday of each month. Sophisticated fashion forecasting models; designers travelling to fashion capitals across the globe to imbibe ideas and styles; teams sourcing raw material from the remotest parts of India; buyers meeting artisans and vendors across the country has made it possible for Westside to remain fast and fashionable.

4.4.2 Pantaloons

Pantaloons, a division of Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail Limited (ABFRL) Group, has been one of the strongest and most preferred brand in the Indian fashion retail industry among the large retail format stores over the past two decades. Over the period of time, it has evolved into a progressive style partner for the fashion seeking shopper by positioning itself as a spontaneous, playful, vibrant brand which is at the forefront of all fashion trends across all categories. It has built one of India’s widest retail network with more than 340 large format stores. This year, Pantaloons focused on growing Pantaloons.com, its online store which recorded 2.3 times of sales over the last year. Pantaloons reported an annual revenue of Rs. 1859 crore, down by 47% from last year, while the EBITDA1 margin stands at Rs. 276 crore compared to Rs. 563 crore last year and was positive (14.8%) for FY21.

With good design capabilities, innovative product development, agile supply chain and customer-centric processes, Pantaloons delivers an enhanced Omni-channel shopping experience to its customers. Today, the Company is at the cusp of a strategic shift of its missions from process-centric to product-centric approach2 from 2020 to 2025, where products will be at the fulcrum of the Company’s sustainability strategy. The Company has also built on its Digital Trade Show platform, replacing seasonal tradeshows, which have been the mainstay of the industry. This has helped completely transform the product development lifecycle, right from the design stage. While the Company celebrates a leadership position in the fashion segment and continues to grow brand equity and consumer base, the Company is always working towards giving back to the environment through ‘ReEarth’ sustainability philosophy and has won several accolades for it at the international level.

4.4.2.1 Major innovation strategies

  1. New product lines: In line with its strategy to increase its private label share, Pantaloons launched new categories including Home, Sarees, Bags and other Accessories and has also unveiled exclusive brands in women’s ethnic wear. The year 2020 was the turning point in its ethnic strategy when the company acquired Jaypore brand while in 2021, with two fresh partnerships with Tarun Tahiliani and Sabyasachi, the company now boasts of the most comprehensive portfolio of iconic ethnic wear brands across price points in the domestic markets. Furthermore, the Company announced new strategic investments in luxury couture Sabyasachi, and men’s ethnic and ceremonial wear by Tarun Tahiliani. Some of its brands include: Ajile, Bare Denim, Indus Route, People, Richard Parker, Rig, SF Jeans and Urban Ranger.

4.4.3 Zara

Zara is the well-known face of one the world’s most innovative retail groups Inditex (world’s largest fashion and clothing companies). Zara is a Spanish clothing and accessories retailer based in Arteixo, Galicia, Spain and founded in 1975 by Armancio Ortega. The philosophy of the company is to get new fashions fastest to the market as it just takes less than 4 weeks for the company to take its designs to the store shelves. During the 1980s, Zara started changing the design, manufacturing, and distribution process to reduce lead times. This allowed them to react to new trends in a quicker way, in what they called “instant fashions.” Zara has been famously described by Louis Vutton designer, Daniel Piette as “Possibly the most innovative and devastating retailer in the world”.

The company has already gone global while selling on all the five continents and generating great economies of scale. There are over 2000 Zara stores located across 88 countries. The process of innovation at Zara does not apply only to products but also towards streamlining and optimising manufacturing, supply chain management, data tracking, inventory management, store layout and staff operations. From its humble origins in 1975 in Galicia, Spain, Zara developed a successful strategy that has led it to rapidly design, produce and distribute fashionable clothing to the customers worldwide. Gradually it also developed in-house capabilities in design, low-cost production, supply chain optimisation and effective feedback loops to ensure that it continually delivers great products to its customers.

The Zara design team consists of 350 people who are completely anonymous and are charged with generating and delivering 18,000 new product designs in a year. At Zara’s headquarters in Arteixo La Coruna, Spain, there are 25 full-size shop windows with differing displays and lighting which enables the designers to look through the format of the retail stores and design accordingly. Zara also has a flat hierarchal management structure with designers empowered to make fast decisions. Only 15%–25% of clothes are produced before the season and 50%–60% at the start of the season. All of these competitive advantages have led Zara to an enviable position where it does not need to advertise. Its core values are found in four simple terms: beauty, clarity, functionality and sustainability.

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5. Conclusions

5.1 Key policy perspectives for the future

The present study attempted to examine various strategies and methods towards New Product Development adopted by some of the prominent global players operating in the Indian Textile market. Some of the important observations are summarised below.

Firstly, if we analyse the segmentation of the Indian clothing market, we find that it is majorly flooded with men’s apparel segment while almost completely neglecting the women side which may seem to be a huge gap to be addressed and infact probably somewhat been seen as an opportunity by the multinational brands who have exploited it in the later part of the 20th century. Infact the formal clothing segment as represented by two major Indian players: The Raymond Group and Siyaram’s particularly cater to the men’s clothing range only. With the advent of the multinational brands like Allen Solly into the Indian markets, we could find women’s formal as well as comfort casual clothing range has been given due attention over the period of time. It may also seem that women’s apparel garments only came into being after the substantial rise in their numbers in the workplace otherwise their might be a connotation in the minds of the companies that formal wear is only about men’s clothing and perhaps the monopoly of it.

Secondly, the casual/comfort wear clothing is the largest category in terms of market size and a lot of small and large players have come up which though not mentioned in the current paper but constitute a substantial market size in the Indian Readymade Garments Industry. Thus there is a lot of scope in New Product Development in this category of clothing segment which so far has not been done by the Indian brands which have largely followed the trends and patterns of international brands.

Thirdly, the discussions in the above sections have confirmed the hypothesis that the most sought after strategies of New Product Development has been launching of the New Product Lines followed by the Additions to the Product Lines/Product Improvement. New-to-the-World Products has been particularly pursued by the multinational brands like Van Heusen. Apart from this, it is also to be realised by the apparel brands that apart from the elite section, India has a large middle income segment which can be cashed on to the fullest potential. But so far the brands only have capitalised on the premium and elite class.

Thus there is a need for the Indian brands to catch up with the multinational brands so as to become more competitive in the domestic and overseas markets which would only be possible by developing an extensive innovation culture and capabilities of the small innovative firms on the part of the policy making institutions in India.

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Notes

  • EBTDA stands for earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation. The EBITDA margin is a measure of a company’s operating profit as a percentage of its revenue.
  • The product-centric approach for any company attempts to identify key focus areas for improvement and develop interventions for each life cycle stage of the product, including upstream and downstream operations.

Written By

Mitali Gupta

Submitted: January 4th, 2022Reviewed: February 8th, 2022Published: April 2nd, 2022