27 Feb 2019 20:26 IST

Focussing on organic growth and sustainability

Storytelling through YouTube and social media sites will help generate popularity

Vipin Patel

 

Amol Amodkar

Just when we started working on 7Weaves case, our sustainability management course ended. In that course, we learned how major Indian companies are leading the movement of sustainability around the world. The slow fashion industry is based on a similar theme, with focus on how to create a sustainable business model, where the environment and its resources are protected, the local art is conserved, employment is created, and end demand is met.

Eri silk is known to have a cooling effect in summers and provide warmth and cosiness in winters. The old Assamese proverb dair pani, erir kani means ‘yogurt cools, and Eri cloth provides warmth’.

In recent years, due to increasing public awareness, slow fashion has gained popularity. To capitalise on this opportunity, 7Weaves needs to carefully steer its vision, adapting to the changing environment.

Refining the existing model

- Cater to other profitable markets — Data shows that maximum Eri silk products from Assam are exported to Western countries. We propose targeting China and Japan, too, where kimonos are in daily use. By doing this, we can minimise transportation costs. Further, due to the large population, the silk market has a brighter future in these two countries than in Europe.

- Differential pricing — Table1 shows the maximum profit that can be captured is approximately ₹7 lakh/month. The cost of twill and plain are different, but, as per the case, the pricing is the same. We suggest a higher price for twill type of weaving method.

 

- Optimisation of the delivery network — To achieve economies of scale (EOS), sustainability is essential. One of the major barriers to achieving EOS is resource optimisation. Another hurdle is an integration of the complete supply chain network, resulting in a reduction of overall cost. Even though information related to the supply chain is not provided, we suggest conducting an internal survey to meticulously observe the complete supply chain process and minimise the slack in the process.

- Increase the product price in the foreign market — A four-five metre saree in a foreign market, for the mid-level segment (since Eri silk is of the mid-level quality), commands a selling price of ₹17,000. Currently, we have the maximum selling price ₹9000 (150 per cent of cost price). Therefore, 7Weaves’ pricing strategy needs to be revamped.

- Connect fashion designers and arts graduates — There are many unappreciated hidden gems in the domain of arts and fashion designing. Discovering and collaborating with such people on a project basis can solve the lack of samples and designs. We further suggest design competitions in design institutes and independent platforms.

Steps towards scaling up

- Get the basics down — Since 7Weaves has primary industry knowledge about slow fashion, the next logical step will be to discover ‘strategic fits’. This can be done by incremental improvements based on the feedback of the core user group.

- Outsource non-core processes — 7Weaves should adopt a lean approach and focus on its core competency of manufacturing and marketing. Other non-core processes such as export, designers and so on should be outsourced.

- Diverse product offering — The clothing needs in foreign countries are different from that in India, where silk is mainly used to make sarees. We suggest 7Weaves partner with brands that make other products such as nightwear, lingerie, hand gloves, scarves, pocket squares and more.

- Developing woman entrepreneurs — 7Weaves should focus on creating women entrepreneurs through a commission model. By encouraging and empowering local women, it can delegate non-core operations and create new employment opportunities.

Effective marketing

- Effective communication strategy via social media — Current ‘likes’ on 7Weaves’ Facebook page are less; it needs to generate more engagement. Messages on social media should be around sustainability, ahimsa silk, and how 7Weaves is helping the locals by preserving and bringing their art to the global stage.

Different campaigns can be formed around such themes.

Campaigns

- Savaran Shakti — The campaign will mainly focus on preserving the cultural heritage of the Indian handloom industry and its workers. The campaign will target young working professionals in tier 2 cities. This will help create brand awareness among customers. This will also create differentiation in consumers’ mind in terms of brand recall and association.

- Know Your Cloth Campaign — The campaign will focus on the ‘ahimsa’. It will convey that people should think about how silk is made by killing larvae, whereas Eri silk products are different. This will also convey the message of sustainability.

- Focus on the growth via organic means — Collaborate with fashion bloggers, fashion YouTubers, channels and websites that will love to cover such an initiative.

- Leverage the exclusivity of Eri silk, sell it on value — The best way is to link major Eri products as emotionally and socially valuable products. For example, creating an association of Eri silk saree as a marriage gift (and not just another saree).

- Focus on storytelling via YouTube — Showcase the story of the dependence of locals on silk production and the impact that 7Weaves has created on their culture and sustainability.

- Garner more visibility — Attending fashion shows and trade fairs that focus on slow and sustainable fashion are crucial in getting noticed by labels and designers who would be interested in supporting such initiatives but don’t just know about it yet.

 

(The first runners-up are 1st year PGP students at IIM Indore.)

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