A recent study has revealed that the lingerie sales grew by just 0.4% last year and the global lingerie industry will need to look up to emerging markets to stay afloat. Despite bullish attempts to present a positive face, there is no doubt recessionary pressures have weighed heavily on the global lingerie industry. But there are also modest reasons for optimism, with recovery likely to get underway in 2013. The lingerie market has historically been a resilient sector, both for brands and retailers. But that does not currently seem to be the case, according to the latest just-style 'Global market review of lingerie and intimate apparel - forecasts to 2017.'

According to the report, which is now in its fifth edition, the worldwide lingerie retail market - which includes bras, briefs, daywear and shape wear - grew from US$29.17bn to US$29.92bn between 2004 and 2007. It then fell in both 2008 and 2009 bottoming at US$28.91 bn. Following a modest recovery in 2010, 2011 was another difficult year with the market estimated at US$29.37bn. Over the period, this is growth of only 0.7% in seven years. Within that total, North America and Japan/South Korea have exhibited zero growth; Europe and Turkey a small (2.3%) fall, whilst the Rest of the World has grown by 12%. The lingerie market at retail prices is now predicted to be worth US$29.23bn in 2012. This is marginally (down by 0.5%) less than the 2011 figure. Growth will be modest in 2013, but will then get back to a form of normality. By 2017, the world lingerie market will be worth US$30.55bn.

Even so, this would be growth of just 4% in the six years from 2011 and less than 5% since 2004. Within the total, North America will grow by 4.2% from 2011. Japan/South Korea will experience growth of 1.9%, whilst Europe and Turkey lingerie markets will remain flat. Meanwhile the rest of the world will grow by 14.8%. Overall, just-style forecasts that by dollar value, brands account for 30% of the market, private label for 55% of the market and anonymous merchandise for 15% of the market. This means that in units, private label and anonymous must sell nearly 90% of the volume of lingerie sold per year, but at prices which are 60% to 80% cheaper than brands at retail.

The lingerie retail market in 2013

Although just-style believes that world markets will start to recover from 2013, demographics and consumer economics will continue to work against Western Europe - apart from the UK, if its net immigration continues unabated. In particular, the economic health of the PIIGS (Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain) looks increasingly catastrophic. Consumer economics will also continue to work against the US: which will far outweigh a more positive scenario in Canada. The BRIC economies (Brazil, Russia, India and China) will continue to prosper but the textile exporting industry of Brazil, India and China will all be affected by continuing weak demand from the developed world.


The importance of emerging markets

Emerging markets, and particularly the BRIC nations, have an increasingly important role to play for lingerie brands and own labels. Together they account for 40% of the population of the world. Their influence on the lingerie market is far less than that percentage, but it is growing at a time when the lingerie sectors of North America and Western Europe are, at best, flat. The BRICs contain exciting opportunities for both lingerie brands and lingerie manufacturers, and a number of these are analysed in the report. The main conclusion is that the BRICs offer interesting opportunities for collaboration between developed world brands and indigenous retailers, brand distributors and local lingerie manufacturers.

The report also looks at key players in markets around the world, the importance of brands and own labels and how they perform against each other, and includes research on products, pricing and spring/summer trends in the UK lingerie market.

Originally published in 'The Stitch Times', March, 2012.