I run a garments factory. Why are there no big kidswear brands in India?


Baijar-sir, the first wave of kidswear brands in India were really experimenting in a space that had just not developed as yet. Garments were still part of the great big rag trade at large. Branding was not the USP in this space when the early brands of yesteryear tried to establish themselves. These brands made an appearance in an era when retail outlets were really the brands. You walked into a shop and bought the kidswear you needed. You trusted the shopkeeper to have done the due diligence on offering. The garments had to be stylish, long-lasting and durable. Store brands, therefore, were the brands. Names such as Kiddies Korner, Kids Kemp, Chermas and a thousand others were the norm. More often than not, you did not even know the individual brand you were buying as well.

When brands in this segment first appeared they literally threatened the dominance of the store brand. Store-keepers were therefore wary and even went to the extent of discouraging brands.

Margins for them were better on items that were un-branded, items they sold to young mothers every day without a hitch. Store brands themselves were early entry barriers to kidswear brands in India. This hurdle could have been crossed if only a planned investment in brand building and advertising was thought of. This was a difficult proposition for the early brands that did not want to spend as much as was required on brand-building. Many brands just fell off due to this.

Things will be different in the future, though.

Indian advertising today is exclusive. Am I right? It does not include everyone.

New Delhi

Jolly, you are absolutely right. Indian advertising is essentially exclusive. And by that logic, is not inclusive.

It follows the approach of the conventional brand. The brand at times is defined as a premium. A premium a consumer is willing to pay. An advertiser who works for a brand that commands and demands a premium tends to get exclusive. He excludes large swathes of the masses of people who do not fall into the conventional definition box that can afford that premium.

Marketers and advertisers are, therefore, very specific in the way they choose their target customers. After choosing target customers, the effort is to essentially stick to that target customer cluster. Yes, at times there is a spillover that is unavoidable, but this is the very approach that makes advertising exclusive and for sure not inclusive.

Having made that broad and scathing point, I must go on to say that inclusiveness of gender, colour, region, religion, caste, class and race is, however, falling into place with many advertisers wanting inclusiveness in their offers. This is a very slow movement, though. This is a snail that has taken decades to move an inch.

Today, advertising is by and large gender-inclusive in India. However, on other counts of inclusion, one can find potholes that exist.

Even on gender, for that matter, the complete inclusion will happen when the third gender finds its way into Indian advertising. Therefore, it thrills me to hear that the Mitr Trust in Delhi has just taken up the initiative to get a portfolio shoot with transgender models that will be sent to model coordinators across the country. The circle of gender inclusion will be finally complete in Indian advertising.

Harish Bijoor is a brand strategy expert and CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc. Send your queries to cat.a.lyst@thehindu.co.in