Lingerie brand Clovia has made a mark in the Indian lingerie market. Pankaj Vermani, Founder
and CEO, Clovia, shares the company’s retail strategy and plans forward.
By RN Bureau
What are your views on the growing lingerie market in India?
The lingerie market, which currently stands at $ 4 bn and is expected to be $8 bn by 2020, is still
so nascent in India. It’s a market with huge potential, waiting to be tapped. While the overall
apparel market is growing at a CAGR of 8-9%, lingerie market is expected to grow anywhere
between 15-22% per annum.
Can you share details of your customer profile?
Our TG is females from the age group 18 to 35 years old. We further split the TG into 3
categories; first from 18-24, who are mostly college goers/first jobbers, who are mostly very
experimental in nature. Then we have 25-30-year-olds who are more mature and evolved TG.
Also, have a good number of newly married females. Then over 30 who are the mature
customers who are more aware of what size and fits work for them and for whom money is not
How has technology enabled you to scale up your venture?
Being majorly online has given us an edge to use technology extensively for our customer
choices. We are based on an amalgamation of fashion and technology. We have built a
proprietary technology engine known as ReX (or ReqS, i.e. Short for Requirement Simulator).
We have patent-pending algorithms that help us gauge the customer purchase pattern through
our sales channels and track their feedbacks fast. It helps us know which product, design and
color are being purchased more and also more importantly, which products have a high
satisfaction score. This helps us provide better products and also plan our inventory
accordingly. We also use smart technology and big data analytics for smart management of our
inventory ensuring we have the industry best inventory holding, one of the most critical
parameters for scaling an apparel business. The term fast fashion is a fact now. With the speed
with which trends are changing, one needs to leverage technology to the fullest. It’s a brave
new fashion world and the brands that are the fastest in listening to the end customer and
acting on it have the best chance of winning. Innovation is the only word relevant in today’s
What’s your omnichannel strategy to serve the new-age consumer?
We started with an online store initially to understand customers need and started catering to
them as per first-hand response. Gradually when the business started to grow, we realize we
are missing on a huge chunk of customers that are not on the internet or may not comfortable
buying online. As the product-market fit has been a roaring success for us and the feedback and
customer response/retention is epic, the focus now is primarily to meet demand and ensure
growth on all channels of distribution. We are currently expanding both in the online and the
offline space with equal vigor and as we evolved our focus was reaching out to the customers
through an omnichannel strategy and be present at every customer touchpoint. The fun for a
brand is to understand the audience and nuances of each channel and ensure a true Omni
experience for the customers and the sellers.
Are women spending more on lingerie these days? What is the average ticket size?
According to the Boston Consulting Group and Retailers Association of India, the female share
of internet users is pegged at 29 percent whereas the remaining 79 percent are men. While the
report projected that the gap will shrink with women users increasing to 40 percent in the
coming years, couple it with the rising youth population, the rise of women spenders,
increasing disposable income and a need for more solution-based approach – you witness
growth in this segment. Nowadays, with so many media around, women understand the
importance of lingerie – how it can make or break the look of their outfit. Hence, they are
definitely willing to invest in lingerie as much as they are investing in their outerwear. About
75% of our online customers are women and the average order value for online is over Rs 1,000
What innovations have you introduced in terms of the window display, in-store merchandise,
Our window display changes every two months. We have a very quirky store design with bright,
inviting colors and colorful merchandise. We also have an open display of merchandise instead
of packed boxes, where women can choose from a variety of products.
What are some of the challenges that you face? How do you overcome them?
In the lingerie industry, standard production runs are of a few thousand units and therefore a
brand could not offer more than 100 styles in a year. Our major challenge was to build a supply
chain that can churn a large number of styles every week to keep up the freshness of our
catalog. We had to launch 100+ styles every month while keeping a tight control on inventory.
Therefore, we had to convince our production partners to work on this seemingly crazy
production plans. However, we could show them on how by using technology, we could come
up with optimum production plans. Now we offer more than 200 styles per month and over
75% of our inventory is less than 30 days old.
What are your future plans?
In the next 5 years, Clovia intends to be the largest lingerie brand in India. While we are steadily
on that path, we’re also encountering a host of organic/inorganic opportunities to grow
internationally, which we are exploring and the next 4-5 years will also see Clovia’s presence in
at least 4 more geographies.