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Business
13 Nov 2017

Indian start-up 'Buttalks' is helping men buy better underwear

The start-up helping Indian men buy better underwear

At a time when internet-based companies are changing the way Indians pay bills, buy groceries, and commute, three Chennai-based entrepreneurs (Brijesh Devareddy, Surej Salim, and Manish Kishore) are using an e-commerce platform to help Indian men buy better underwear.

The start-up, called Buttalks, went live in August 2017, and already boasts of 1,400 customers, of whom 30% are annual subscribers.

In context

The start-up helping Indian men buy better underwear

What are their unique offerings?

India has had other innerwear start-ups like Zivame and Pretty Secrets, both of which preceded Buttalks. However, Buttalks is the first subscription-based, personalized innerwear start-up focusing solely on men's innerwear.

Habits of Indian men with regard to underwear shopping

Men's underwear

Habits of Indian men with regard to underwear shopping

Despite the proliferation of e-commerce platforms, underwear shopping habits of Indian men remain backward, for the most part.

Buttalks's initial research found that most men buy underwear in a somewhat mechanical manner without paying attention to what they exactly require.

Indian men also often do not know when it's time to replace their underwear.

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The size of the Indian innerwear market

The Indian innerwear market is expected to reach a valuation of Rs. 68,270 crore by 2024. According to consultancy firm Technopak, the men's innerwear segment is currently worth Rs. 7,450 crore.

Health implications

Health implications of underwear habits

Apart from causing discomfort, ill-fitting and old, worn-out underwear has several health implications for men, implications which are often ignored and played down in Indian society.

According to Rajan Bhonsle, a professor and consultant in sexual medicine, wearing right-sized underwear has direct benefits for a man's sexual health, while a proper fit helps reduce issues related to infertility.

Men's health issues need to be highlighted too

"I see that there is so much ignorance about something as basic as this [choosing the right underwear]. This is something that's never spoken about...women's health issues have their space, but men's issues lag behind. All these have to be highlighted," added Bhonsle.

The packages offered by Buttalks

Packages

The packages offered by Buttalks

Buttalks works through a subscription model wherein subscribers get periodic doorstep deliveries of underwear from the start-up.

The start-up offers three differently priced sampler or annual subscription plans starting at Rs. 999, the prices of which differ based on the brands that are included in a package.

Customers using the annual plan get three pairs of briefs four times a year.

What about Buttalks's funding?

However, owing to the as yet unsuccessful subscription model, Buttalks faces many challenges in terms of funding. Although the start-up is set to close its first funding round soon, it remains boot-strapped so far. The co-founders also declined to share details of investors and revenues.

Personalization

How Buttalks personalizes underwear for a user

Regardless of one's subscription plan, the briefs which go into boxes are personalized as per a user's preferences.

Users have to fill out an exhaustive questionnaire while signing up so that Buttalks knows every customer's preferences.

The questions range from a user's preferred choice of fabric, colors, styles, and brands, to even users' lifestyles.

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