Recently, Trade Union Minister Piyush Goyal said that India has immense potential in the footwear sector and could increase production and export 10 times in the near future. He also added that India is the second largest producer of footwear and leather garments and can become the world leader and accounts for nearly 3 billion square feet of the global tannery. In an exclusive chat with The Financial Express Online, Virender Kumar, the spokesperson for footwear brand Chere, spoke about emerging trends in the Indian women’s footwear market. He shared some interesting facts and trends prevailing in the Indian market. He further pointed out that as the lifestyle and aspirations of modern Indian women transform, so too do the products and shoe designs. Excerpts:
Tell us about the overall market landscape of the footwear industry in India?
The size of the Indian footwear market is around $23 billion, according to the latest statistics from Statista. The market is growing at a CAGR of around 7%. One of the fastest growing segments of the footwear market is women’s footwear, which is growing at a CAGR of 11%. Sandals are usually at the top of the search list, while other categories such as high heels, ballet flats, slippers, sneakers, etc. are also growing rapidly. While offices have picked up, other categories such as formal wear, boots, etc. are also experiencing a recovery in demand.
There is a growing trend to strike the right balance between comfort and style. Designers and manufacturers are constantly experimenting to match the changing tastes, aspirations and lifestyle of Indian consumers. Shoes are an integral part of a person’s overall personality. Buyers want shoes that are not only stylish and fashionable, but also make someone look confident and smart.
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Do you think the government’s “Make in India” initiative has played a key role in creating a better chance for shoes made in India? How did you get the most out of it?
India is the second largest shoe manufacturer after China. GOI understands India’s inherent strength in the segment and under the flagship ‘Make in India’ initiative, providing an incentive for the sector to grow and transform. The Indian government is continuously striving to improve the investment climate in the country while systematically removing trade barriers, thereby creating an atmosphere conducive to business prosperity.
Currently, India accounts for almost 10% of the global footwear market, while China holds 54% market share (according to data revealed by Statista). However, as Indian manufacturers increase their manufacturing capacity, it may give dragon fierce competition for the foreseeable future.
Chere is also aligned with India’s vision of becoming a leader in the global footwear industry. We create premium quality shoes made in India, specially designed for the ever-changing Indian consumers. We also grow and develop through other components of the value chain and work on the initiative to design and produce soles, midsoles and upper shoes. For this, we are developing design, prototyping and manufacturing capabilities. There is tremendous opportunity in manufacturing shoe components in India as well as in global markets. As an emerging footwear brand in India, we are prepared for this and ready to step up our game to expand our presence across the value chain.
Can you highlight the key factors affecting consumer demand?
Footwear demand in India is supported by strong fundamentals such as rising per capita income and growing middle class. Indian households nowadays enjoy a much higher disposable income for shoes, clothes and other fashion items. People don’t just buy one or two pairs of shoes, but an entire wardrobe with different shoes for different occasions. Interestingly, the monumental change is not only limited to big cities, but also to small towns and townships.
The growth of modern retail over the past 10 to 15 years has also significantly shaped consumer preferences in India. Most major shoe brands are now available in the country, either in their exclusive boutique or in multi-brand outlets. This has resulted in a greater awareness of the latest trends in fashion, aesthetics, prices, etc.
Another factor strongly influencing consumer demand is the rapid growth of the Internet. With the exponential rise of the Internet, consumers can find out more about shoes with just a few clicks, find out more about the latest market trends, compare different products and make their decision to buy or not accordingly. The internet is the real game changer that is revolutionizing the whole landscape. Interestingly, the Internet is also democratizing the market by bridging the gap between big cities and small towns.
Please briefly describe Chère’s business model? Who are the brand’s target consumers?
When it comes to our business model, our value proposition is to provide Fast Fashion in footwear. We are able to do this thanks to our strength which lies in product development.
Our designs are not only in line with current trends, but are also comfortable on the foot. We firmly believe that shoes are one of the most important parts of an individual’s attire and keep this in mind as we position Chere as an opulent women’s designer shoe brand that can adorn any outfit. with confidence and comfort. It offers a range of products such as stylish wedges, plush flats, slip-on heels, stylish closed toes, chic stilettos and more. So whether it’s for a glamorous office look, a cocktail party to shine, or just a casual dinner date with bae, Chère is the perfect fit.
Meanwhile, reach is important and we are accumulating investment in our distribution channel. We continually leverage our distribution channels to aggressively connect with our consumer base. We have developed digital bandwidth driven online marketplaces as well as our own e-commerce platform – chere.in. In the future, we will add new channels to expand our reach.
The development and production of our products are supported by a prolific marketing team. He is a key resource in our growth effort and is responsible for consumer awareness and personalized responses. We have an equally effective Customer Relationship Management (CRM) team. Customer lifetime value is what we strive for through our customer relationship and engagement program.
India is a price sensitive market so how do you keep the balance in terms of product prices?
India is not only a vast market, but also a diverse and multifaceted market. Although the majority of the shoe market is driven by affordable shoe brands, there is also a growing appetite for high-end and premium products. Lifestyle changes and growing income levels are rejuvenating market dynamics. Indian consumers are willing to pay the price as long as the product meets their expectations in terms of style and comfort.
This is the segment we focus on closely. Our products are aimed at modern Indian women, who have a penchant for trendy and quality products. Our designs would not only add a touch of style to them, but they are also very functional. In a way, we reflect the changing shades of modern Indian women – elegant, stylish and full of confidence.
What is the impact of technological advancements on the footwear industry? Please shed some light on other factors influencing the growth of this industry?
When it comes to fashion, lifestyle, its ever-changing and evolving trend has always been easily accepted by the Indian market. The demand for innovative, technologically advanced yet comfortable footwear for all age groups, especially millennials, Genz is a central pillar propelling the growth of the market. Breathable soles, Smart shoes, shoes instilled with augmented and virtual reality, technologies are among the most recent technological advances in the footwear sector. Millennials, Genz, not only prefer smart shoes but also very comfortable shoes.
Previously, consumers were loyal to brands and designs, and there was limited demand in the market, but fast fashion, brands readily available in the market, has really changed the footwear industry in India. Due to growing concerns about the ecological footprint, large consumers are focusing more on purchasing sustainable products.
Additionally, some global players in the footwear industry are seeing a strong demand for innovative and eco-friendly products. These variables drive the market sales growth.