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BW Businessworld

On Luxury Watch

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How big is the luxury market in India and how fast is it growing? Talk to different people and you get wildly different estimates. Last week, one report struck a rather gloomy note, and said India constitutes barely 1 per cent of the global luxury market, and it trailed China heavily as a luxury marketer's destination.

The second part is probably true, though how they estimated India's market share is not known. On the other hand, there are plenty of others who insist that the market for luxury goods in India is booming, though they refuse to share figures. In fact, luxury marketers are notorious for not giving out any sales figures, which makes the exercise of estimating size of the market a rather difficult one.

But there is plenty of evidence on the ground that luxury marketers are bullish about India. One sector where sales numbers are actually available is the luxury automobile segment. And here the evidence is that Rolls Royce, Bentley, Mercedes, BMW, Audi and Porsche are seeing sales grow at a fast clip.

For luxury watches, too, sales are good. Most of the high-end watch brands — Rolex, Omega, Breguet, Raymond Weil, Patek Philippe, Cartier, etc. — are already here and the stores selling them say business has never been better.

Meanwhile, the luxury malls — for example, DLF Emporio — report that business is booming. And they are attracting customers from smaller cities — newly minted millionaires and billionaires who come to Delhi to shop for luxury brands the same way that the earlier millionaires used to go to Paris, Milan, New York, Singapore or Dubai about 10 to 15 years ago.

Supporting evidence also comes from Businessworld's Super Rich listing. Barring 2008-09, the list of Super Rich Indians has been growing every year. And most of these are consumers of luxury goods.

There is also evidence that the salaried middle class are also buying luxury brands — even if they pick the base models. You can spot many buying Omegas, Rolexes, Tissots and Mont Blancs.

Yes, there is plenty for the purveyors of luxury brands to look forward to in the Indian market.

P.S. Our correspondent Suneera Tandon, who appreciates all fine things in life, coordinated this issue, while design director Jyoti Thapa Mani designed the package.

(This story was published in Businessworld Issue Dated 26-09-2011)