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BW Businessworld

The Pandemic Effect

Recent reports predict that the luxury industry is further set to see losses in sales of 30 to 40 billion euros

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Markets are stumbling to effectively deal with the pandemic. While, I do agree that sales have been violently disrupted and the situation is grave right now, I also see this pandemic as being an eye-opener, in a sense. The luxury industry has worked a certain way for decades; they have always been about tangible experiences. They did climb on to the digital bandwagon, but the in-store experience was always their number one priority. All this is changing very quickly. 

For starters, the pandemic has completely changed the consumer-buying behavior. It has changed the views, values and outlook of the ‘luxury consumer’. The key to navigate through this crisis, or to make a foolproof plan for the future, is only possible if one understands the changing consumer buying behavior. From experience, I would say that in the seven years that we have been in the business of selling bespoke watches, the one thing that has kept us ticking through the tough times is the customer data. The customer data analysis has effectively enabled us to create the right products. In fact, we at Jaipur Watch Company have utilized this time to primp our digital platforms and have also reconnected with our customer database on a personal level in order to understand their current mindset. 

Now that the lockdown has been lifted and people are slowly coming to terms with the pandemic, consumers with disposable income are willing to spend on brands that are sustainable and homegrown. Conscious luxury is gaining traction and preference for homegrown brands is helping companies like us to recover quickly. 

As per reports, the luxury watches and jewelry segment accounted for 20 per cent of the luxury goods revenue in 2019. Between now and 2024, the luxury watch market size could grow by $1.64 billion. Of this, Asia–Pacific is expected to contribute 43 per cent  growth with China and India as the front-runners due to their large market and the inherent growth potential. 

Currently, there is increased demand for Swiss watches. However, the changing buying behavioral patterns, the inherent need for exclusivity, and the need for a brand to reflect the consumer’s values and beliefs, are driving the demand for luxury watches in a big way. Also, brands offering customized options are being prioritized. Another trend that is catching on is that of ‘tailor- made’ gold watches. Consumers are finding gold to be a safe bet in these uncertain times. 

India, with its evolving population, increased disposable income, bigger fashion-conscious consumer base and following the current prevailing national sentiment, is leaning more towards homegrown brands and bespoke options. With watches becoming less of a timepiece and more of an accessory to match your fashion sense, the market is seeing good potential. 

This is also the right time for brands to re-strategize, identify weaknesses, identify and bridge the gaps and communicate with the consumers with meaningful content. Most importantly, they need to create designs that can inspire and entice their affluent consumers. Online luxury retailing is definitely the future. We should use this time to effectively digitize our process and create tangible online experiences that can help build trust and loyalty. Of course, there will be teething issues, eventually the convenience of buying online coupled with the comfort of experiencing the product before buying will prevail. Soon, the customers will not be able to differentiate between a showroom and an online shopping experience.  

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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magazine issue 7 Oct 2020 luxury special

Gaurav Mehta

The author is Founder and CEO of Jaipur Watch Company

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