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No child's play this…

business Updated: Nov 01, 2007 22:23 IST
Radhika Pancholi

Time was when parents chose and children had to follow suit. Not anymore. With an increasing number of children being put through the grind and more exposure at an early age, their demands are now getting a voice. And, parents are more than eager to comply. Helping them are apparel brands, which have shifted gears to leverage the potential of the children's wear market that had been so far neglected.



This new interest by apparel majors, presently investing heavly in creating "brands", appears to have stemmed from rapid changes in the economy. The fact that most parents, "especially mothers who are clearly aware that the way a child dresses up is often a reflection of the parent's sense of style, makes it even more imperative for apparel makers to play on the 'brand sense' of the consumer," said a spokesperson for Raymond. Last year, Raymond launched its kids apparel brand Zapp, designed by the Raymond Europe Design studio in Italy, and followed it up with Baby Zapp for toddlers.



Children's wear makes up for about 8 per cent of Shoppers' Stop turnover.



"The segment is definitely on a growth path," Rajiv Nair-Customer Care Associate & Business Head - Mothercare, a brand brought to India by Shoppers' Stop, said. Nair added this was a trend across retail where kidswear makes for a very small percentage.



"The Indian consumer's potential and propensity to spend has grown. With parents earning more and spending less time with their children, the child's demands are being met without batting an eyelid," Nair reasoned on the sudden interest of big brands in this segment.



"In fact, Mothercare has seen a 400 per cent growth since its launch in India last year because of rapid expansion of our stores in the last one year," he said.



The flip-side, though, is that the organised market is still in its nascent stage and evolving. If, on one hand, premium brands such as Esprit launched their line of children's wear in October, leading denim brand Lee shut down its kidswear line that was sold under the brand Lee Kids.



"The market is still dominated by the unorganised sector and people still prefer to shop on the high street. Even though the organised market is growing at 30 per cent, it only has an 8 per cent penetration in a market that is pegged at Rs 14,900 crore," Ajay Nihalani, Vice-President, retail of kidswear brand Gin & Jony told

Hindustan Times

.



The fact that India is also a very different market from the West makes it imperative for brands to get their product mix right, especially in this segment.



"It's a very tricky market as you are addressing two kinds of customers — mothers and children. And, each zone in India has different tastes. Catering to such a diverse mix keeps us on our toes," said Nihalani, whose brand recently tied up with designer Rocky S for their Freedom Fashion concept.