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BW Businessworld

Tata Housing's Tryst With Luxury

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India's rapid advance from an emerging to a developed economy has given rise to a new breed of luxury consumers, who are heavily influenced by global tastes and beliefs. India's new affluents, while retaining a distinctly Indian identity, are redefining the market, taking marketers by storm.  This is the preeminent conclusion of a roundtable discussion organised by Tata Housing Development on India's new affluents.

The discussion was compiled by an array of experts representing the fields of research, marketing, real estate and consumer and brand intelligence:  A. Harikesh, senior vice president, marketing and sales at Tata Housing was the host of the roundtable discussion, while Harish Bijoor, business strategy specialist and CEO of Harish Bijoor Consults, Bino Paul, professor and chairperson at Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) and Sandeep Trivedi, director, growth market at Cushman & Wakefield were present.

According to the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), the affluent class comprises around 13 million households in India. Among them, education and occupation help define consumption patterns and attitudes, creating two distinct segments: new and traditional. The recent emergence of the affluent class in India highlights this demographic group's obsession with the love for technology, high living and new-age affluence — in a nutshell, an opulent lifestyle. This has led to a conversation amongst manufacturers and marketers on who these 'affluents' are and why their consumption habits are of relevance to India.

According to the panel, India's new affluents will not simply mimic western spending patterns but retain distinctly Indian characteristics; a type of jugaad that marries affluence with aspirations, with a strong focus on the former.  

 "New Affluents are the ones driving the realty market today. They are ambitious and aspire to live a life of sheer luxury. They have the advantage of having both good education and as well successful careers. Most have travelled internationally and have lived abroad, a life they now want in their own home town as well," said Harikesh.

Marketing and brand strategy specialist, Harish Bijoor, said that "in the marketing sector, we have changed the way offerings are assessed, while at the same time delving deep into the buying psychology of affluent consumers. For them, products should flaunt their value and brand name always trumps affordability."

Social researcher, Bino Paul believes that, "new affluents are pivotal in transforming urban agglomerations into global cities whose steadfast longing for novelty and structural changes forms potent base for new ideas, products, markets, spaces and socialisation milieus."  Sandeep Trivedi  feels today, the average age of a first home buyer is in the age bracket of 28-32 years and this trend has transformed the residential market and created a niche within.