Walk like an “Emperor”
“Show me your shoes and I will tell you how wealthy you are”, goes a saying. Indeed, it’s so true! This is one accessory that most Men care the least about. And the issue is specific to men. Women, as anybody would guess are so fond of their footwear and it’s also a coveted purchase for them. Men always had few choices – in India, in the early 80’s, it was Bata for “office wear”, and Power for “other uses”! The early 90s witnessed the entry of International Brands, initially through the grey market and then through Franchises followed by company owned stores. Today, the footwear market in India according to an IBEF Report is estimated to be USD 2.8 Billion! Since the dawn of the 21st century, the footwear market in India has taken a dramatic shape. There is fierce competition among the players and interestingly, prices have been steadily coming down, inflation adjusted. The Indian footwear Industry is expected to grow at 20% CAGR over the next few years. At present, the footwear market in India is dominated by Men’s wear that contributes almost 60%. Since the organized footwear industry in India has remained focussed on men’s shoes, the opportunity for retailing women’s footwear is enormous. At present, most women buy their footwear from nearby stores or mass markets with very few organized players such as Soles focussing on this category.
The Men’s footwear market can broadly be classified as formal wear (office wear), casual wear (evenings, outings, etc) and sportswear. While this definition is more to classify the categories, it isn’t followed so strictly by one and all, except for the urban male and a few of his counterparts in the smaller cities. The most popular, rather most advertised include “sportswear” and the target audience is clearly the youth and young adults. After all, it’s best to “catch them young, watch them grow”. And thereby Sachin, Dravid, Dhoni and various sportspersons, mostly cricketers are the brand ambassadors. Reebok, which has close to 1,000 stores (most of which are franchised) has a market share of over 50% in this segment – a rare feature when compared globally. The brand received phenomenal upcountry publicity after becoming the official partner for Kolkata Knight Riders in 2008, the IPL team owned by Shah Rukh Khan. One of the biggest strengths of Reebok is its design capability – apparently, the brand launches about 20 styles every quarter and prices start from Rs. 1,000. Adidas has remained focussed though – style and substance put together. While utility takes the cake, it is also known for its fashionable designs. Nike, the smallest player in the market yet among the big three predominantly focuses on various sports. Puma and brand digressions such as Levis & Provogue concentrate on the fashion segment. In the formalwear segment, Bata and its brands including Hush Puppies have remained the most popular across the country. Early 2000s witnessed brands such as Lee Cooper Gaitonde and Woodlands reach the masses with their popular designs and low-pricing. Florsheim, a late entrant took the market by storm due to various innovations including the stress free footwear range that starts from Rs. 5,000 onwards! The last among the batch seems to be Samsonite, the brand known for its sturdy luggages and suit cases which has been spreading its presence across the country. Footwear chains such as Metro & Mochi and Department stores such as Shoppers Stop & Lifestyle have their own private labels and are popular in the mid-segment which looks forward to latest styling at reasonable pricing. International Premium Brands such as Tods, Jimmy Choo and others have just entered the Indian market and have limited presence in major cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore.
So, what’s in it for consumers? To begin with, a wide variety and choice of pricing! There are over 20 Domestic and International Brands operating in India, right from the neighbourhood to the nearby malls or speciality shopping areas. From as low as Rs. 1,000 upto Rs. 6,000, one can find reasonable footwear to suit the various occasions and activities that one performs during the day. The same set of footwear may also be available at a 30% discount at Factory Outlets such as Brand Factory or MegaMart, although it would be 18-24 months into the market with its design and styling. On the whole, for a little extra care, one can walk literally like an emperor! Keep Walking...