Watchmaker, jeweller and now a handwoven saree retailer. Titan is extending its brand footprint deeper into its core category of consumers: Women. With the newly launched Taneira, a store for ethnic wear (sarees and fabric), it is hoping to leverage its identity as an urban woman’s jewellery brand to establish in a new segment.
However, given that the category is new and volatile, though it has seen a resurgence of demand in recent times and the fact that the market is still dominated by scores of small weaver groups and online marketplaces, the company is likely to face a big challenge scaling up.
Titan’s first apparel store opened here last week. This was in line with an earlier statement that it would look at the business of ethnic women’s apparel as a test or pilot phase for 2017-18. The store stocks a variety of sarees, sourced from 20 states. “We believe there is an opportunity to occupy the naturals and hand-woven space, rather than the generic. We noticed a set of people wanting natural fabrics and hand woven. This set is growing as crafts are becoming rarer the demand is increasing,” said Ajoy Chawla, senior vice-president.
Titan is not the only company to eye an opportunity in the space. New players such as Tjori, Voonik after it acquired PickSilk and others are focusing on traditional wear with a contemporary twist. Fab India is among the leading retailers in this space although its sarees are a small part of the store’s collection. What is driving the proliferation of such stores? According to market research by many of these companies, women in cities are increasingly turning to traditional wear.
Titan believes it has an advantage in the space given its experience in creating branded jewellery for the urban woman. “This is a 15 month trial period, after which we will decide whether to go further. We have a large number of women customers, both in jewellery and watches through Raaga and Tanishq. Also, be it Mia or even watches, progressive women are a target customer,” added Chawla.
To begin with, and surprisingly at that, Taneira will not have an online component. It will retail out of physical stores and use the digital channel for branding and advertising. This could be, experts say, because sarees and fabric are a tactile purchase experience. People prefer to touch and feel and then buy. Titan says it will use regular people as models for its sarees and run short promotional films at its stores and on social media.
According to Shyamala Ramanan, business head at Taneira, women who go for handwoven sarees use it as a strong statement of their identities. The joy of wearing these reflects on the faces of those who appreciate them, she says. And that is what prompted the brand to go with real users for its launch campaign “an NIFT student, a grandmother from Chennai and a stylist who did the photoshoot for us,” Ramanan says.
Taneira stores are independent of the group’s retail arm, Trent, that operates the Westside chain of stores. Taneira will have only sarees and fabric, while Westside stocks a larger variety and range of clothes for everyone. It will cater to the mid-premium to premium segment. The sarees start at Rs 2,000, with some going up as high as Rs 2.5 lakh. The store will stock other kinds of ethnic wear, too, especially for the bridal market.