Levi's, Benetton enjoy success in India

18 November 2009

BANGALORE: Levi Strauss and United Colors of Benetton are set to be among the first multinational apparel brands to post $100 million (€67.2m; £55.6m) in annual sales in India, a result of more than ten years of activity in the country in each case.

According to Technopak, the branded apparel sector in India is worth 40,000 crore rupees ($8.6bn) at present, and has enjoyed double-digit annual growth over the last half-decade.

Levi's entered the country in 1994, and has launched a number of successful marketing campaigns since then, such as "Low rise. Dangerously Low", "Live unbuttoned" and "Diva rules".

Alongside these initiatives, it has taken a nuanced approach to pricing, and sought to expand its distribution network, so that it is able to make an impact in smaller tier two and tier three cities, as well as the main urban centres.

Similarly, the jeanswear specialist has introduced its low-cost Signature range, in an effort to attract consumers with limited disposable income, a move which has helped it gain a 40% share of branded denim sales.

"We operate the Signature brand in select markets in the world. It is a key pillar on which the future plans of the company in India are built," according to Shumone Chatterjee, managing director of Levi's Indian operations.

Benetton established a presence in India in 1991, having forged an alliance with a local partner, the DCM Group, but while its revenues had only reached $9m in 2004, they are expected to climb to more than ten times that figure by the end of 2009.

The company's sales in emerging markets increased by 13% over the first nine months of 2009, with India – where it opened 80 stores in this period – being among the main contributors to this trend.

Among its key brands in the rapidly-developing economy are Playlife, the sportswear and leisure label, as well as Sisley, its premium offering.

"Benetton has fairly understood the Indian market, possibly because it is one of the first international apparel brands to enter the country," said Pinakiranjan Mishra, national leader, retail and consumer product practice, Ernst & Young India.

"The Group has demonstrated this through sharp product pricing and marketing communication that is in tune with consumer perceptions and willingness to pay."

Data sourced from Economic Times; additional content by Warc staff