Overall, eight out of every 10 households in India reported purchasing at least one saree every year. The share of households purchasing sarees is higher in rural India at 85 per cent. In urban India, 74 per cent households reported purchasing sarees, according to a consumer expenditure survey conducted by the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO). Little wonder therefore, that Minu Sarees, a 35-year old popular saree brand from the stable of Kolkata-headquartered Sachin Enterprise, is increasingly concentrating on the rural and suburban markets to promote its brand.
“Our focus clearly is on rural and suburban markets of eastern India, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and some other parts where women in large number are used to wearing sarees. That’s where the market is. And mind you that our sarees come with price tags ranging between Rs 150 and Rs 1200. We predominantly target the mass market, the economy segment of the market,” said Anita Agarwala, owner, Minu Sarees (Sachin Enterprise).
She said, “At some point of time we had popular Tollywood and Bollywood diva Moon Moon Sen (and subsequently her daughter, Raima Sen) as our brand ambassadors. But as we are increasingly focusing on the rural and suburban markets, our brand and sub-brands are getting endorsed by faces with woman next door impression. In the segment that we operate, more than the aspirational values, it is important that our target group relate to them immediately. We prefer in-film branding, innovative associations with regional movies, branding on public mode of transport, hoardings and danglers to promote and position our brand properly.”
Significantly, Sarees have been worn by women from the Indian subcontinent for ages. Its following may have reduced in the last few decades with the adoption of more Western-style clothing, but it still remains a $5–$15 billion business. Some other study suggests that the saree, the quintessential Indian dress for women, has a market of nearly Rs 36,000 crore.
That’s not all. The saree business is expected to grow at a CAGR of 6 per cent to reach Rs 61,553 crore in 2025. Though a market shift is expected from saree to salwar kameez or western wear in urban and semi-urban markets, saree will still remain as the predominant category among elderly and middle-aged women across urban and rural India, felt Agarwala, who has been instrumental behind the brand’s success.
Quite significantly, saree manages to breach the regional, religious and class divide in the country. The share of households belonging to the top decile which reported purchasing a sari at 77 per cent was only slightly higher than the comparative figure for the bottom decile (72 per cent). But the poorer income classes spent proportionately more on sarees than the rich. The top and bottom deciles refer to the top 10 per cent and bottom 10 per cent of households respectively, when ranked according to their overall annual consumption expenditure.
“And that certainly gives us courage, enthusiasm and optimism in our journey and also gives us the confidence that we are on the right track. At present, we have five retail outlets in and around Kolkata, besides agents, distributors and dealers across the country. We would certainly like to cover the length and breadth of the country, particularly where there is a market for saree and would do whatever is required for that,” she said.
Minu Sarees, manufacturer, supplier and exporter of cotton printed sarees, cotton embroidered sarees, synthetic printed sarees, synthetic embroidered sarees, at present has its own manufacturing facilities in as many as four places and OEM facilities in different parts of the country. The company also has plans to ramp up its capacity.
One can buy saris for as little as Rs 100 or as much as Rs 1 lakh and more, depending on one’s budget. More than 100 draping styles have been documented for the saree and the range of colours, designs and types of fabric can leave a first-time saree shopper bewildered. “Now that we have more or less consolidated our position in the economy segment, moves are now afoot to get into some interesting and exciting segment in the higher range. We are working on this,” said Agarwala.