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India’s Tryst With Luxury

With the unknown and a dynamic market, a brand needs to be innovative, flexible as well adaptable to localization.

Photo Credit : Ritesh Sharma

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Whether it’s women being carried around in silk palanquins in the 16th century, or styling yourself with an exquisite hand-embroidered shawl that karigars have laboured over for hours, indulging in luxury is not new to Indians; it resonates with our heritage, culture and history. But even though Indians have always been exposed to fine riches, they still need to be educated on what comprises ‘luxury’. Being brand conscious and aware of sustainable luxury is not enough; education on the distinction between premium and prestige brands still needs to make its way to the Indian luxury consumer. 

In India, anything that is ‘expensive’ falls under this category. But an expensive product isn’t enough, it also has to have ‘resale value’. That’s why when a girl graduates or gets married, she is given gold, which is precious and has resale value. The one thing that differentiates a price-sensitive Indian luxury consumer from a global one is the Indian consumer’s value for money. Luxury, though, is not solely defined by price; it’s always been all about fine details and quality, about the positioning of the brand, and the process of craftsmanship. 

While the luxury market in India is still developing, changes in the industry are noticeable and can be understood from two perspectives — retail and consumption. From the retail perspective, the luxury segment that began in the late 80s-90s involved a setup through which international brands distributed their products via a distributor. But sometime around 2005, brands began opening more subsidiary offices in the country, thus eliminating the distributor’s role from the supply chain. From the consumption point of view, with the development of malls post 2010, increased number of people started experiencing luxury. Fast-forward a few years to the digital age and we have luxury brands in India now aiming to reach a new audience that includes millennials or ‘the Gen Next, through ‘digital marketing’. But consumers should be aware that the best way to buy luxury products is through the authorised retail outlet of the brand. When buying through an e-commerce site, one needs to re-check the certificate, guarantee and the hallmark, which cannot be easily replicated. 

With a plethora of brands focusing on the Indian market, growth is visible. The country is at its developing stage where fiscal changes are taking place. So what then is the future of the luxury industry in India? The market has become more complex as compared to ten years ago, when one could say that the luxury industry is growing. But today, it is difficult for a brand to understand the market and the mind-set of the consumers immediately. Factors like geography, demonetization, GST and political policies have affected the market as well resulting in a downward market graph. It has thus, become more difficult for one to tap into the Indian market. The factors that influence any luxury brand for tapping the Indian market is the positive GDP of the country with more than 50% of the population being millennials. These millennials contributing to sales, increase in consumerism and growing infrastructure that add ups to India being a hot favorite for many Luxury brands.  All these factors are responsible for Brands to have expectations from India as a potential luxury market. Brands have adopted strategies to tap the aspirations of the nouveau rich and millennials with Digital Marketing. Focus to reach this TG is gradually shifting from the Traditional advertising medium of Print to Digital.  With the unknown and a dynamic market, a brand needs to be innovative, flexible as well adaptable to localization.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


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Anita Khatri

The author is CEO & Founder AKLC - Anita Khatri Luxury Consulting Services

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