No fluffy business for the wool market

26 Mar,2012

By Tuhina Anand


The Woolmark Company and AWI operate worldwide with offices in over 18 countries, with the headquarters in Sydney, Australia. Woolmark is the iconic fibre brand symbolising the best wool in the world. Created in 1964, by Italian graphic designer Francesco Saroglia, the Woolmark logo perfectly represents the softness, elegance and modernity of wool. Today it is still amongst the ten most recognized and appreciated brands in the world. Used on over 2 billion products since its launch, Amir Sheikh, Country Manager India, The Woolmark Company gives MxMIndia an insight into the company’s plan in India.


Q: How does Woolmark view the current industry for woollens in India both the current status and opportunity?

India is a big market for woollens with huge growth potential in the domestic market. It is the second largest Australian Merino wool importer after China, though a distant. As per the recent survey and forecast report, the consumption of wool in India is going to grow with shift in market dynamics.


Recently wool prices have seen increase due to growth in global demand and weakening rupee, making wool import in India expensive. And due to pressure on price points, retailers have gone for blends to sustain the market. The current economic scenario though does not look good with mix corporate results of the last quarter but retailers are optimistic on woolens.


Fine wool products are becoming a luxury, and brands see this natural fiber as an important tool to attract consumers in premium and luxury segment. Wool being a natural fiber will always be in vogue and there is always a demand for this natural fiber. With growing awareness among consumers for eco-friendly products and being conscious of environment they prefer to have clothes made of natural fibre and wool is among one of the premium natural fiber to cater to their demands.


We see India as a market of opportunity for premium natural fiber like Merino wool as it is one of the emerging and growing market with swift changes in retail formats and consumers’ mindset who have increased disposable income and wants to adopt international fashion trends. All these factors will help us to build a strong demand for premium quality wool products in India and it is important for us to educate the value chain and bring innovative product ideas to Indian market to meet this growing demand.


Q: Some of the leading names have the Woolmark approval already in India, what is the task ahead?

As Indian fashion and apparel industry transforms through modern retail catering to educated consumers it becomes important for brands and retailers to win the consumers’ confidence not only on their brands but also on the quality of product they are selling. This is where we add value with Woolmark certification and licensing program in which garments carrying Woolmark ticket and label assures that it has passed through stringent quality testing and meet consumers requirement which builds confidence. Over the years we have build this quality assurance program globally and many brands and retailers have confidence on the Woolmark brand which will grow as we expands our horizon from traditional to modern retail in India. As you see there has been an increased consumption in woollen products like knitwear, scarves, suits, etc in Indian market and good brands offering quality and natural products, we see a huge demand in Indian domestic market Woolmark certified products. This becomes important for us to reach to brand and retailers who may not be aware of this program or would like to associate with us in future.


Q: How do you intend to educate customers on the benefits of buying a Woolmark product?

This is important to us as we educate the value chain about Woolmark certification it is equally important for us to reach to consumers and inform them about Woolmark certified product. This awareness we are doing through various mediums and the best way is through association with retailer by in-store promotions, retail staff training, etc. We have recently done consumer awareness campaign ‘Wool Celebration’ in association with brands and retailers through various media to educate Indian consumers in targeted Indian market. Digital marketing is also one of the focused approach to educate consumers in effective manner. We will continue to educate consumers about wool and Woolmark in future.


Q: What are few steps you are taking to popularize the concept among the trade to adopt Woolmark status?

This includes educating the entire value chain about Woolmark through participation in various trade fairs and making them aware about Woolmark. Usually manufacturers are licensed for Woolmarkwith whom we work closely and offer innovative product ideas on wool which in turn can be created and offered to their prospective customers – brands and retailers. At the same time we are offering our services to brand and retailers to expand their knowledge on wool with wider global trends fitting to local demand. Through this knowledge sharing we intend to educate the end of the trade – brands / retailers who are keen to offer values to their consumers with Woolmark certified products. To our valued trade partners we offer sourcing solutions with our global network, new product ideas in different product categories, technical guidance and trend forecasting through our famous business development tool ‘The Wool Lab’. We are increasing our trade activities to reach to wider section of trade as the market demands.


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