Understanding Indonesian Modest Wear eCommerce Trends: Who, What, and Where
Home to the largest population of Muslims in the world, Indonesia is a hotbed for the upcoming modest wear trend in the world of fashion. To uncover the most important bits of the Indonesian eCommerce modest wear market, we’ll be looking at the Indonesian consumer demographics and sharing some tips on how you can gain traction among them.
Hui Shan Tan
February 20, 2020
Home to the largest population of Muslims in the world, Indonesia is a hotbed for the upcoming modest wear trend in the world of fashion.
To uncover the most important bits of the Indonesian eCommerce modest wear market, we’ll be looking at the Indonesian consumer demographics and sharing some tips on how you can gain traction among them. We’ll also cover what consumers want to see in your brand and where they make their purchases so that to better arm you for a country that has one of the quickest growing eCommerce markets in the world.
With a population of 264 million people, Indonesia is currently the most populous country in Southeast Asia. According to GlobalWebIndex1, 96% of Indonesian internet users between the ages of 16 and 64 have searched online for a product or service to buy, and 90% have purchased a product or service online on any device.
The rapid development of infrastructures has brought more and more of Indonesia’s 260 million inhabitants online. Primarily accessing the internet through mobile devices, the large demographic of connected Indonesian drives the development of the country’s technology companies and ecosystem, particularly the online shopping market.
This makes Indonesia one of the most sought-after markets globally for eCommerce2, with large local players and global heavyweights fighting for this enormous, growing market.
According to Statista, revenue in the eCommerce market amounts to US$26.9b in 2020, and is expected to show an annual growth rate of 16.9%, resulting in a market volume of US$50.4b by 2024. Indonesia’s high growth rate in eCommerce is good news for merchants looking to enter the Southeast Asian market in general, as conquering the Indonesian consumer base can be the first step for you to establish your brand name throughout the region.
Additionally, the market's largest segment is Fashion with a market volume of US$6.7 billion3 in 2020. With the world’s largest proportion of Muslims in the country, there certainly exist several opportunities for newer merchants to enter the eCommerce modest wear market of Indonesia.
Before we go into the details of what attracts modest wear consumers in Indonesia, let’s briefly find out the consumer demographics behind this market.
Who Exactly are the Consumers Driving the eCommerce Modest Wear Market in Indonesia?
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To begin with, when looking at the modest wear market in Indonesia, the first question newer merchants might ask is about the size of the Muslim population in the country. The good news is that Indonesia has the world’s largest number of Muslims in a country, with a percentage that hovers around 86% (227 million) as of 2019 according to Euromonitor4.
This means that there is a huge demand for modest wear fashion in Indonesia, and even if you capture just a small market share in the industry, you could still have a large number of customers.
Secondly, Indonesia has a relatively younger population compared to other similarly growing Asian economies. As a comparison, Indonesia’s median age is 28.8 while Thailand’s and China’s are 38.3 and 38.4 respectively5. This suggests that a large chunk of the population in Indonesia fall within the millennial age group (33.75%)6, hence it might be helpful to understand what their spending habits are, as well as their consumer preferences.
For instance, in terms of style and modesty expectations7, young Indonesians are quite experimental and open-minded. The use of colours is welcome and virtually every style finds a home in this market.
Additionally, 59% of millennials like cashless transactions which includes eWallets, which means that it is important to incorporate popular payments solutions into your website. A few examples are GoPay, OVO, DANA, LinkAja and iSAKU8.
On another note, when it comes to wealth and income levels, the average annual income of Indonesians is around US$2,1969, which is much lower than its Southeast Asian neighbours such as Singapore and Malaysia. Hence, when entering the Indonesian modest wear market, it might be good to consider adjusting your prices towards the mid to lower range.
However, selling premium clothing is still an opportunity in the market as well with growing income levels in Indonesia. Brands such as Muyen which are based in Jakarta started off selling modest wear clothes but now retails ready-to-wear luxury collections as well with hundreds of followers on social media.
Now that we know who your potential consumers are, let’s zoom into what attracts them in the Indonesian modest wear market.
Key Insights into Why and How Indonesian Consumers to Make Purchases of Modest Wear Clothing
1. By meeting the unique demands of modest wear consumers, foreign brands that are traditionally uninvolved in modest fashion are gaining the support of consumers
With significant growth potential in the sector and Muslim spending on modest fashion forecasted to grow 5% annually to $361 billion by 2023 from $270 billion in 201710, many foreign brands have sought to enter the modest wear market.
For instance, Italy's Dolce & Gabbana, Swedish fast-fashion retailer H&M, U.S. sportswear company Nike, as well as U.S. department store Macy's and British retailer Marks & Spencer, are just some of the names10 that have showcased clothing aimed at women who want to cover up.
While not all brands have been successful, one particular brand has certainly seen positive results in the Indonesian modest wear market. Following the launch of a hijab line in 2015, Japanese retailer Uniqlo re-partnered with British-Japanese designer Hana Tajima for a modest fashion collection. Tajima’s spring/summer 201811 collection included floor-length dresses with long sleeves, high-waisted trousers in linen blends, and airy tunics perfect for layering, with a price range of $10-6012.
The partnership between UNIQLO and Tajima13 first appeared in the company’s Fall/Winter 2015 line in Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Indonesia. Following its success, the collection later appeared in the U.S., U.K., and Philippines for Spring/Summer 2016, and is now in 15 countries.
According to Tajima11, she believed that it was important to keep the modest wear fashion line accessible and to maintain the idea that it is for everybody. Specifically when designing modest wear clothing, because the silhouettes are oversized and have more fabric, she believed that it was important to keep the cuts delicate and elegant.
With such attention to detail, this likely suggests that the success of foreign brands when entering Indonesia’s modest wear market has much to do with the designs of the clothes, as well as their affordability.
Modest wear products in Indonesia have to be competitively priced, especially when selling online, due to the high number of players in the market. A survey by Deloitte6 revealed that 26 percent of Indonesians cite price as their main reason for buying online, given their ability to compare deals among various sellers.
However, that being said, when it comes to luxury modest wear products, there still exists a sizable market in Indonesia. Demand for luxury modest wear is boosted by the increasing wealth and growing middle class of the population, which means that you can sell high-end clothing at steeper prices -- provided they are justified by their quality.
While some foreign brands did not receive much support from the public, it is highly possible that Uniqlo’s entrance into the modest wear market was successful because they had partnered a designer who entirely understands the demands of Muslim women, being one herself.
This is in contrast to some Ramadan collections by foreign brands that did not meet the expectations of Muslims in Indonesia, such as Mango’s Ramadan collection which was criticized for being way too casual14 for the festive occasion of Eid, and also not modest enough.
Therefore, when entering the modest wear market of Indonesia as a foreign brand, it remains crucial to understand the nuances behind consumer demands to stay on track in the industry -- especially if you’ve not had experience in this field. Doing so helps to ensure that your products will always meet the basic needs of your target segment, as well as the ever-changing consumer preferences.
Hence, entering the market through eCommerce is a good way to test out the attractiveness of your products, as online businesses also allow you to avoid the high costs of physically entering the country. Some examples of these fixed costs are rental costs for your brick-and-mortar store or the warehouse.
By partnering with established logistics service providers who are already aware of the popular payment methods and delivery landscape in Indonesia, you stand a higher chance of retaining the support of your customers.
2. Indonesia’s large number of consumers differ in their methods to seek information for eCommerce purchases
In recent times, the growing number of internet users15 and the increasing affordability of smartphones has changed the social media environment in Indonesia. A large share of the younger generation are using smartphones and they use it for nearly everything to make their life easier. Messaging platforms such as WhatsApp and LINE are used to keep up with their friends and family, while social media is used more for browsing multimedia content.
With a penetration rate of over 88 percent16 YouTube was the most used social media platform in Indonesia. However, all the other widely known social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram also enjoy a high penetration rate there, making Indonesia one of the largest social media markets in the world.
However, according to Snapcart17 research results, 24.5% of all respondents received information about eCommerce from television advertising, while 24.3% obtained information by word of mouth from family, relatives, and friends. Ads on social media like Facebook, Instagram or Twitter accounted for only 21%, and 15.1% obtained information from ads on online sites.
Interestingly, this means that while a large number of the population makes use of social media networks, not everyone sees it as their main source of information for making online purchases. A larger group of people still rely on television advertisements and word of mouth information.
In fact, McKinsey & Company18 found that consumer behaviour varies by geographical location in Indonesia as well, as consumers in Surabaya were more likely to be influenced by branding and image compared to the consumers in Jakarta. Consumers in Surabaya are also reportedly twice as likely than consumers in Jakarta to seek recommendations from family and friends before making purchase decisions18, particularly when it comes to fast-moving consumer goods19.
Thus, with so many new modest wear brands in Indonesia, it might be good to spend a considerable amount of budget on other forms of marketing to gain an edge over your competitors. This could be done not only through television advertisements but also through long-form video content that appears more as interactive and engaging content rather than advertisements.
For instance, to attract more consumers, Lazada threw its 11.11 Super Show20, where more than 5 million viewers were tuning in. They also took part in live game sessions, skits and performances from renowned local and international celebrities including Korean boy band KARD, and Thai celebrities Bella Ranee Campen and Janie Tienphosuwan.
The Super Show is proof that long-form video content could still be vital to consumer engagement today. This can be combined with TV ads and YouTube videos to capture user attention.
Even though it may not be possible for new merchants to host similarly large-scale events due to budget constraints, you could participate in less costly versions of such marketing campaigns like online auctions and giveaways on Instagram Live and Facebook Live. Even though these campaigns are on social media, they might still stand out from regular ads as they are much more interactive and engaging.
This falls in line with a report by Hootsuite21 that stated that due to the difficulty of doing research on mobile for consumers, social videos can close the gap between discovery and purchase. Beyond product tutorials, there are also other ways to make online shopping social, such as having a live broadcast on Instagram which can recreate the energy and urgency of real-life shopping experiences.
Nonetheless, in Southeast Asia, almost 6 in 10 consumers in Southeast Asia22 say that more than one-quarter of all their online shopping is influenced by social media, with the most popular channel triggering a purchase being Facebook at 78%. This means that when done appropriately, social media still remains a good way to reach out to your customers.
Among local brands, Tokopedia has the largest audience on YouTube23, with over 415 million views as of this writing. The company uses YouTube to publish online classes alongside TV commercials and feature stories about notable eCommerce sellers, among others.
YouTube Enthusiasts, or people who spend 10 hours on YouTube per day, also tend to be frequent and high eCommerce spenders24. If you’re an online retailer, how-to videos about featured products could be the tool that turns a YouTube Enthusiast into a customer25.
Furthermore, millennials are even purchasing products on social media platforms themselves, which is known as ‘social commerce’. One recent trend in this aspect is the direct integration of shopping functionality into the content display on social media, enabling high-speed, “inspire and sell26” customer conversion (e.g. Instagram Checkout).
Thus, it remains important for businesses to attract and retain young consumers by raising their social media presence by being updated with the latest mobile browsing features, and improving their online checkout experience -- beyond just having advertisements. It would be good if social media marketing could be done in tandem with traditional marketing tactics, but this is only if you have the budget as traditional marketing tends to be more expensive to attain.
3. Muslim influencers who tell an authentic story become increasingly significant when reaching out to young modest wear consumers
As an extension of the earlier point on the importance of social media in providing information to potential customers, partnering with social media influencers could also be a great way for you to promote your modest wear products. This is particularly so for millennials who are increasingly drawn to influencers who are able to tell a story that is relatable with them.
For instance, Indonesian designer Dian Pelangi is one such influencer. With nearly five million Instagram followers, she has been credited with popularizing Muslim streetwear in Indonesia27, helping young Indonesian Muslims to remain stylish while covering up.
The London-based fashion news website Business of Fashion named her among the 500 most influential figures in the industry in 2015-16, calling her a "tour de force in the global Muslim fashion scene and beyond." Hence, it is important for businesses to attract and retain young consumers by raising their social media presence by engaging with popular influencers.
However, on a worldwide scale, while an incredible 86 percent of companies use influencer marketing in 2019, the engagement rate for such sponsored posts on Instagram dropped from 4 percent in Q1 2016 to 2.4 percent in Q1 2019. According to a McKinsey report on fashion28, the harsh reality is that it is increasingly hard to excite and inspire audiences who are overwhelmed and overstimulated.
Arnold Ma, the chief executive of creative digital agency Qumin28, has stated that businesses should move up the influencer funnel, partnering with individuals or other brands who truly live the lifestyle and can tell an authentic story, rather than blindly paying popular more generic influencers to promote their products.
Thus, this means that in order to market to modest wear consumers, it might not suffice to work with any influencer out there. Instead, it could be more useful to work with Muslim influencers who are able to tell an authentic story to your potential customers. If done right, you might stand to gain a lot from the influencers’ following as well.
Given that we have better understood the three ways to attract consumers who shop online in Indonesia, let’s find out where exactly the consumers shop for these clothes.
Where do Consumers in Indonesia Make Their Online Modest Wear Purchases?
According to Statista29, among the top 10 most visited fashion sites in Indonesia, half of them sell modest wear clothing - while a quarter of the 10 specialises in modest wear. For instance, Indonesia’s most visited eCommerce fashion site, Zalora, has a webpage just for modest wear.
With 2.8 million monthly web visits, Zalora Indonesia’s Head of Marketing30 has stated that Zalora aims to meet the demands of modest wear consumers whilst also injecting the latest runway trends. With the intention to package these aspects together in a collection that is sensibly affordable, Zalora has worked with private labels such as Zalia and Lubna, as well as modest wear designers from Indonesia and Malaysia for new fashion lines.
Additionally, other popular online fashion platforms in Indonesia that specialise in modest wear include HijUp which has 227,000 monthly web visits, and Hijabenka with 139,500 monthly web visits29. Both brands are homegrown businesses that target modest wear fashion for females, and have huge numbers of followers on social media platforms like Instagram.
On one hand, HijUp, which stands for Hijab Up (it sounds like Make Up or Dress Up), is a marketplace startup that allows designers to display and sell their collections31. People can browse fashionable hijab, dresses, and accessories, then buy them online. Products sold on HijUp.com are designed by top Muslim fashion designers, as well as young designers from all over Indonesia.
On the other hand, Hijabenka is the sister company of Berrybenka32, Indonesia’s second most popular online fashion platform that sells general womenswear. Hijabenka retails not only on their own website, but also on other eCommerce giants such as BliBli, Shopee, and Zilingo. CEO of Berrybenka, Jason Lamuda33 has mentioned that Hijabenka has displayed significant growth of nearly 150% each year.
As of 2019, both brands have also managed to enter the physical retail scene, attaining an omnichannel presence in Indonesia. While HijUp has opened 11 physical stores in Indonesia and one store in Malaysia34, Hijabenka has opened one physical store33 in Jakarta. This allows consumers to order from the website and pick it up from the store, or to try on clothes that were selected online before purchasing them.
The expansion into physical retail spaces suggests that there is a continuously high demand for fashionable modest wear clothings in Indonesia, and having an omnichannel presence eventually can be a great way to expand your business in the country.
To wrap up, by understanding who, what, and where your potential customers in Indonesia’s modest wear market shop online, you might be able to better appeal to your target segment. While Indonesia may appear as a saturated market with many traditional and local businesses, the modest wear market is still a growing one that provides many opportunities for newer merchants to enter the market, as Uniqlo’s modest wear fashion line has demonstrated.
Delivery is still an important part of the eCommerce experience. If you’re sourcing your modest wear products from beyond Indonesia, it’ll be helpful to find an eCommerce shipping partner to help you with getting these eCommerce products delivered on time and on target to your Indonesian customers. This is especially so for Indonesia’s complex landscape that can only be served by logistics service providers who fully understand the intricacies behind it.
Popular eCommerce platforms and experienced logistics service providers who are well-acquainted with Indonesia’s shipping rules and regulations can also simplify much of your cross-border shipping process, making it much easier for you to start expanding your business in the country.
As a whole, if you’re looking to better understand the consumer trends behind this market, it’ll be good to look at what the young consumers are talking about on social media, and Muslim fashion influencers who are admired by many. By also looking at what foreign brands who have succeeded in this market have done, you might find it easier to gain your potential customers’ support by replicating similar methods.
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