Retailing in India: So Much More for Less

Young Indian consumers’ appetite for affordable “intelligent lifestyle” consumer products has encouraged the entry of Asian retailers
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Posted September 9, 2019

India is no stranger to the dollar store concept. U.S.-based chain, My Dollar Store (Irvine, Calif.), entered India 15 years ago but closed shop due to challenges in the erratic logistics of opportunistic merchandising. Then came online retail in India, which helped build awareness of the concept of affordable “intelligent lifestyle” consumer products across different demographic consumer segments in India.

The need for touch and instant gratification in this segment has brought redefined versions of the dollar stores back in business. The new formats manage the design, manufacturing and logistics of thought-out, curated products and offer them in organized and experiential formats. This has caught the attention of the young middle-class Indian consumer, who loves the experience of discovering more than 1200 products in beauty, utility, entertainment and lifestyle priced as low as ₹100 (US $1.50).

This has triggered a tsunami from Asian brands offering intelligent lifestyle consumer products from Japan, China, Malaysia, Korea and, more recently, from India. Rapid expansion plans are driving store openings in almost every prominent Indian mall and high street in metros and non-metros. Compact stores ranging from 1500 to 3500 square feet offer more than 10,000 SKUs.

More than 200 stores have already opened within two years; this number is expected to increase to at least 1000 within the next three years. One interesting observation is the uncanny similarity between the brands in terms of marketing, colors, store design, fixtures and communication. Every one of them has a similar clean, modern, minimalistic design language inspired by Zen design sensibilities. Consumers are swarming them, owing to the value they offer in price, range and quality. Here are a few that are leading this charge:

Miniso (Japan)

Miniso, a Japanese designer brand, earned popularity among consumers by updating its product assortment every seven days across its stores. The brand currently has a footprint of 2600 outlets in 70 countries and is expanding at a monthly rate of 80 to 100 new stores. The store offers affordable designer products, such as mobile phone accessories, fashion accessories, storage solutions, stationery and beauty products. It’s committed to offering products of high quality at a competitive price in a consistently well-designed shopping environment. Having made its debut in India in 2017, today the retailer has more than 100 stores with an ambitious goal to operate 800 stores in the next three years.

Mumuso (Korea)

Mumuso, a Korean affordable lifestyle brand with footprints in more than 30 countries, is inspired by design trends that combine traditional culture with modern living adopted by their young consumers. A massive manufacturing plant in China supported with strong product development capability and robust logistics has seen them through in competitive international markets. Having launched a flagship store in Kolkata, the brand is looking to launch 300 stores across all major metros and small metros in India by 2022.

Kioda (Malaysia)

Kioda, a Malaysia-based Korean concept retail store, is currently present in three countries and is planning to expand to 13 additional countries by next year’s end. The brand offers an affordable range of cosmetics, stationery, household utility and personal accessories, among others,30 percent of which is sourced locally in India. Kioda operates about 10 stores and is set to open 300 stores in India by 2021 in partnership with Franchisee India.

Usupso (China)

Usupso, born in Tokyo, Japan, and operated under Guangzhou, has a network of 2500-plus stores in more than 11 countries. Products are created based on customer needs and inspired by nature with the design philosophy of being simple, natural and quality conscious. The brand has set a footprint of about 12 outlets in Indian cities over the last year and is targeting to open at least 100 stores by the coming year.

Ximivogue (Korea)

Ximivogue is a Korea-based fashion and lifestyle retail chain with more than 1700 stores in 77 countries. The brand is committed to offering affordable, simple, smart and fashionable products to young stylish new-age consumers. Today the brand has 29 stores in India with an aim to open 100 more in the coming year.

Tynimo (India)

Tynimo, named for its retailing ethos – “tiny store, more products,” – is an Indian retailer committed to catering to the lifestyle needs of millennials, who are both value- and quality-conscious intuitive shoppers. The locally curated assortment is comprised of a mix of categories, such as beauty, home, fashion accessories, stationery, kitchenware, sports, travel, as well as a large department of Indian handicrafts. The brand currently has three stores in Bangaluru and plans to launch many more in high-traffic locations in India.  

The More the Merrier

The success of these players seems to be based purely on the value proposition that they offer in terms of price, range and quality. Though each is trying hard to outdo the other, the real challenge will be in sustaining the novelty created in this first round of expansion and succeed in the subsequent ones to come. The low or no effort in brand building and differentiation in product offerings by each has rendered the entry barrier for new players low.

The Indian consumer continues to enjoy shopping for this new affordable sector while brands enjoy their honeymoon period. Let’s hope the competition will see this segment getting stronger by winning the preference of the Indian consumer.