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India’s fashion retail market is itself expected to grow to US$115 billion by 2026 (Forbes India 2018). However, Indian fashion and textile brands need to warm up to the emergence of a new connected customer – one who’s well-synced with the latest in the global apparel and fashion trends – if they want to capture their due share of this growth.

2019 finally seems to be the year when India will set its image as a global fashion hub. Programs such as ‘Make in India’, ‘Skill India’ and ‘Digital India’ have pushed forward revolutionary policy changes for the business community and fashion industry as a whole.

This being confirmed by the ‘State of Fashion 2019’ survey issued by McKinsey. As per the survey, as manufacturing strengthens, and the middle class expands due to higher incomes, India is sure to become a crucial point for the fashion industry.

People no longer consider apparels as a durable item, to be shopped seasonally; instead, they are now chasing the latest trends and hunting for better bargains. Clothes are seen as disposable, and the modern consumer’s closets are full of many impractical and infrequently-worn items.

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Source: file:///C:/Users/abcd/Downloads/role-of-digital-marketing-in-retail-fashion-industry-a-synthesis-of-thetheory-and-the-practice-2168-9601-1000279.pdf

Digital marketing in the Fashion industry can be identified as a form of direct marketing that connects the buyers with the sellers electronically, through interactive technologies such as, emails, websites, social networks, online forum, as well as newsgroups, interactive television, mobile communications etc.

According to the high level of connectivity, digital marketing facilitates many-to-many communications, and it is normally used to promote products and services in a timely, relevant, personal, and cost-effective manner.

The world of fashion is emerging due to the fortification of digital marketing together with branding, and the innovative usage of technology embedded with the most recent fashion trends.

With the extensive development which has been undertaken in today’s world, digital media has made it easier for people to be close due to the easy access they have to the internet. Fashion is an industry which has a very short product life cycle, and is totally dependent on fast-changing trends.

Marketers should be able to analyse and forecast the fashion trends before the customers switch to the competitors, so that the fashion marketer becomes a trendsetter, and digital media becomes the best platform to acquire and convert customers. This can be done through measuring and optimizing digital media with the purpose of satisfying loyal customers and retain them for all their life.

Digital marketing is a turning point for the fashion industry, because, in the current business world, it acts as an excellent medium for consumer’s attention, interest, desire, and action towards a particular product or a brand.

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The emergence of fast fashion

Apparel brands are forced to embrace ‘a new design paradigm’ to create collections faster, and at lower Research and Development (R&D) costs. The traditional design process with a 3-6 months’ time frame was designed for seasonal collections.
It has now given way to a ‘curation over creation’ strategy for monthly collections, that has a shorter time frame of two months. As a result, brands across the textile value chain must reduce lead times.

Rise of ‘fit’ customer and wearable fashion

Rise of the ‘fit’ customer is another mega-trend which is fuelling the demand in active-wear and sportswear. Worldwide, there is a cultural shift toward sports, including running, as a part of growing emphasis on fitness.

Technology is now being integrated as part of wearable fashion. There are smart clothing items in the market with embedded health sensors, as well as medical monitors. Outside of apparel too, fitness wearables that sync to your smartphones have gone mainstream.

This digital transformation in the fashion industry emphasizes the strategic importance of digital marketing plans. Brands today need to realize the importance of digital platforms like social media, in order to reach out to their targeted consumers.

Sustainable Fashion

Apparel companies are now also addressing the latent consumer demand for environment-friendly clothes. Sustainable fashion is clothing that is produced in a manner that there is no, or very little impact on the planet. It involves different elements right from sourcing eco-friendly fabrics, dyes that involve zero chemicals, recycling the water used in manufacturing, and also improving social working conditions in factories.

Upasana is a fashion brand based in Pondicherry, India, that believes that the process of design needs to be creative, and at the same time, help in solving real problems. They use design for real changes like empowering farmers, weavers, and dyers through their textile work.

Out of real problems like farmer suicides, weavers losing their jobs, and post-tsunami trauma, were born real solutions,
like Varanasi weavers – a project with the weaving communities of Varanasi; and Tsunamika – a tsunami-related project providing livelihood to fisherwomen; and many more.

More and more brands are coming up with such initiatives and ideas. Hence, it’s crucial to have a digital marketing plan be set in place in order to effectively inform and influence people.

Preference to product personalization

Product personalization is going mainstream rapidly, creating whole new revenue streams and possibilities for agile brands.

Brands have embraced smartphone-based personalization for suits, shirts, and jeans – customers provide measurements and place the order via the internet, and get the products shipped to their doorstep. Bombay Shirt Company in India is one such company that has embraced product personalization.

Fulfilment of personalized fashion requires brands to re-engineer their entire value chain, use cutting-edge technology for collaboration and communications, and forge new types of vendor relationships to ensure express deliveries. Customers, obviously, want quick delivery.

Diversifying product segments

‘Indian women’ and ‘kids-wear’ categories are growing faster than menswear. The per capita apparel spending is also the highest for kids, followed by women, and then men.

Further, within women’s wear, western, and Indian ethnic segments are growing faster, with 21% and 17% projected CAGR between FY 2015-2020, as compared to sarees, which is growing at CAGR of 6% (Forbes India 2018).

Indeed, Indian companies like Garden Vareli have already diversified their product portfolio to include non-saree ethnic and western wear.

Globally, too, apparel brands have sought to diversify products across customer groups, and at the same time, they are trying to mitigate single-product risks.

Embracing digital technology

India’s fashion and textile industry needs to recognize that the modern Indian consumer is no different from its counterpart in the western countries. Local Indian brands and manufacturers - who can become distinctly home-grown leaders - will be crucial for enhancing India’s Garments’ industry competitiveness on the global stage.

In order to do so, they must focus on product innovation and development, invest in brand building, customer engagement, create flexibility in manufacturing and supply chain, and finally, demonstrate savviness in embracing digital technologies.
Marketing trend-spotting, in this case, is indeed lucrative for business growth.

Conclusion

In India, as fashion sales migrate online, fashion brands are increasingly moving their marketing spending online as well. Yet, despite the growth in digital-marketing budgets, most brands are failing to utilize the most efficient and effective digital-marketing techniques available. As a result, they are missing out on significant revenue uplift that such techniques can yield.

To maximize the opportunities, fashion brands need to identify how far they still have to go before reaching digital-marketing excellence, prioritize the most value-adding initiatives, and then, commit to doing what’s needed, in order to get there.