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Is There A Case For Luxury Market In India’s Tier 2 And 3 Cities?

The 5th India Luxury Summit, organised by Assocham, discussed the ‘Democratization’ of luxury in India, especially in context with alternative channels for luxury purchases

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Indian luxury market, which has been restricted to the top of the pyramid for years, is now witnessing a change in its consumer base - the well-travelled and informed Indian middle class. In short, the luxury market in India is on its path to democratization; not simply restricted to the metro cities.

The 5th India Luxury Summit, organised by Assocham, discussed the ‘Democratization’ of luxury in India, especially in context with alternative channels for luxury purchases.

Agreeing to the changing paradigm, Designer Shantanu and Nikhil Mehra mentioned how luxury has become more independent and the education is spreading in terms of choices.

We are moving towards smaller regions like Coimbatore, Cochin and others and are witnessing a great response. The access to luxury is limited in the smaller regions but they have deep pockets and the know-how of these brands,” said Karan Bhangay, Founder, The Indian Luxury Expo.

Dinaz Merchant, Executive VP, DLF Luxury Retail & Hospitality elaborated on the growing aspiration of the upper middle class and the middle class in India for luxury brands.

“You may not dine in a 5 star every day, but for that one special day you would do so,” said Merchant, who mentioned about the new retail hub soon to be opened in Chanakypuri, New Delhi, which would be different from the already existing luxury mall DLF Emporio not just in terms of luxury segments like apparels, clothing, food but would open up for the mid segment market.

“We want everyone to have the taste of luxury. At present, the market is very limited for the mid-level consumer segment. You either have brands like Zara and M&S or Armani, Prada, Fendi. There is nothing in between to bridge the gap. However, with mid transit brands like Kate Spade, Coach coming in India, there is now an increasing market for the middle and upper middle class,” said Merchant.

E-commerce has also played its role in partially bringing luxury in the forefront, according to Sugam Dhall, Business Head, International Brand Luxury, Tata Cliq.

“In terms of demographics, there is a growing traction from the younger generation and women of course. In terms of e-commerce, the momentum is being built and browsing is taking place,” said Dhall, mentioning how one of the consumers visited the website 107 times before making the final purchase of a $1000 bag.

Though luxury stands at a conflicting point in terms of offline and online channels, the market is not restricted to either. Anvita Mehra, Founder & CEO, Confidential Couture who has created an online market for pre-owned luxury products said how price point is one of the major concerns when it comes to luxury purchases, which is now being bridged with such online channels.

“In order to make luxury accessible, pricing was a major concern. Though our buyers are mostly from the metros, we have great responses from cities like Bangalore, Ludhiana, Chandigarh and others. Luxury can be very well elevated online as well and not just restricted to offline experience,” said Mehra.

Speaking on designers going digital, Kalyani Chawla, Luxury Brands Consultant and Former VP, Christian Dior Couture echoes how it is a matter of convenience.

“Online is the way forward. There are international designers who have stopped doing couture and have gone digital. Take for instance Zara, who went online recently,” said Chawla.