The Indian luxury landscape is experiencing an evolution which is redefining the consumer profile & how luxury players will need to operate in this domain during the year 2016. Abhay Gupta reports.
In the last few years, luxury in India has been growing at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of about 25%,. As per a report by ASSOCHAM, the market is expected to hit $18.6 billion by 2016 from the current $14.7 billion.
Service areas such as fine dining, electronics, luxury travel, luxury personal care and jewellery saw increasing revenues and are expected to grow by 30-35% over the next three years. Spending on luxury cars continue to rise growing upwards at 18-20% over the next three years.
“ The industry is now looking forward to positive developments in the region ”
As the purchasing power of women is rising in India, the luxury beauty products market is also witnessing a fast paced growth; and, further bolstering the increasing size of the Indian luxury market, private equity investments in the segment are also expected to elevate.
Although the segment has faced challenges in the recent past, the industry is now looking forward to positive developments in the region, such as the addition of new luxury players to the mix, improvements in infrastructure, and the advent of digital luxury, among other trends.
Increasingly, luxury in India is no longer the privilege of the few who were born into wealth. There is now a larger consumer base, which has the money to splurge but want a real value proposition – and, in 2016, this will be the biggest challenge faced by luxury brands this year.
“ Luxury players casing the market would be well-advised to keep an eye out for key trends & developments ”
As a result, luxury players casing the market or making in-roads would be well-advised to keep an eye out for the key trends & developments expected to further fuel growth of luxury in India this year.
Consequently, below are the top 10 shifts which are set to make the most impact on luxury in India in 2016:
A hesitant adopter of the digital space, luxury brands today have slowly but surely started giving in to this phenomenon. According to new research, two-thirds of India’s web users access social media daily and spend more time on it than on emails. A combination of physical stores, digital experiences and social media engagement is the new mantra.
The millennial consumer seeks collaborative opinions and collective influencers to finalise his purchase decision. Also, according to an AC Nielsen report, almost 67% of Indians in metros and Tier 1 cities check online reviews before making final purchase decisions.
Online offers consumers expect from brands. Source: The Nielsen Company, AbsolutData
Key portals in the Indian luxury market catering exclusively to high-end brands such as Darveys, Genesis Luxury, Elitify, Stylebop, Exclusively and others, offer a unique platform to choose from wide collections of such brands and offer delivery at your doorstep. Suddenly, everything from jewellery to cars, to real estate and services – are being sought on the net. “Increasing mobile and Internet penetration, m-commerce sales, advanced shipping and payment options, exciting discounts, and push into new international markets by e-businesses are the major drivers of this unprecedented growth,” a joint study by Assocham-Deloitte said.
As per latest Kotak Wealth Report, just 55% of the total luxury market revenue is generated from metro cities of Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and Kolkata. Balance 45% comes from smaller and new towns. Despite of low outreach by luxury brands in tier 2 and tier 3 cities the luxury consumption is growing steadily due to high internet penetration, increasing awareness amongst the youth and growing purchasing power of the upper class in tier 2 and 3 cities.
It is stated that:
- 16% of revenue comes from cities like Bengalaru ; Ahemdabad ; Pune ; Nagpur, Hyderabad and Ludhiana.
- 7% from cities like Surat, Jaipur, Lucknow, Kanpur, Indore and Vadodara.
- 22% from rest of the small towns and cities
Source: Kotak Wealth Management Report 2015
India has the fastest growing number of HNI’s in the world. The size of HNI and UNHI’s in India continue to rise and they spend a considerable part of their income on luxury brands, as compared to the middle income segment that spends 8-10% of their income on luxury products.
According to Credit Suisse’s 2015 Global Wealth Report, India has ranked up in the list of Top 20 countries as the number of ultra-high-net-worth (UHNW) individuals rose by 100 since mid 2014.
Ultra High Net Worth Individuals, 2015 : Top 20 Countries
With the trend of luxury consumption changing from ‘having’ to ‘being’, more and more millennial luxury consumer wants to ‘enjoy’ the ‘Luxury’ of owning the product, but is questioning the need to splurge on the ‘latest’ collection with no clear value proposition besides being the ‘first to own’ it.
Enter the ‘pre-owned’ luxury seller. Websites like luxepolis.com, luxurymonk.com, and theluxurycloset.com offer ‘pre-owned luxury’ at a relatively lesser price. As per a recent report by Bloomberg, the second-hand market for luxury Leather goods and clothing segment is growing faster than the luxury industry overall.
A case in point, Mercedes-Benz India is set to launch a brand Mercedes-Benz-Certified for sale of pre-owned cars. “The market for used luxury cars in India is around 4,500-5,000 units annually. There has been a tremendous growth in this market in the last few years”, says Eberhard Kern, MD & CEO, Mercedes-Benz, India. Clearly, more such offerings can be anticipated to add to the demand. According to online auto marketplace Cartrade.com, the trend is particularly visible in small cities and towns.
“ A big portion of the demand in the car rentals industry is for luxury cars ”
Why own it when you can ‘experience’ it at a fraction of a cost? Going one step further, there are sites wanting to offer ‘rent a luxury’ product / services. One could look at renting cars to bags to wedding outfits to jewellery for a special occasion at much lower costs and yet flaunt as well as enjoy the brand, the product and the associated benefits.
The consumer wants to lap it up since works completely well with their changing mindset as well as pockets. Sites like secretwardrobe.in are providing a great platform to rent outfits of designers like Anita Dongre, Sabyasachi Mukherjee etc.
A lot of women who own a designer bag or two but can’t afford to buy any more like to rent to flaunt in social gatherings. A big portion of the demand in the car rentals industry is for luxury cars as the aspiring consumer with increased disposable income wants to feel like a star for a special date or on anniversary.
“ An approach of lower lines in hybrid mall is the perhaps the way to attract new clients & larger volumes ”
In the recent past people who could afford luxury were distinguishable than people who could not afford luxury products. Now with increasing wealth and exposure that line is blurring. This, however has given rise to a new set of customers and a new space for brands to exist, a.k.a “bridge-to-luxury”.
Brands across sectors understand that for this emerging Indian consumer who wants to ‘taste’ luxury, a different approach is required to expand the base from its existing sophisticated customer. An approach of lower lines in hybrid mall is the perhaps the way to attract new clients and larger volumes into your domain.
Examples of Armani Jeans ; Brit by Burberry ; Bulgaria perfumes ; Mont Blanc pop up at Select City walk mall could be the examples to adopt. This new luxury is also more resilient than the exclusive luxury simply because it’s more affordable when the markets get tough. This new consumer is not to be underestimated as this is a marketer’s dream because they care about the brand’s history and heritage.
Powerful forces drive the democratisation of luxury. Source: BCG Analysis
In order to ensure continued development of Indian luxury industry it is important that brands explore the possibility of collaborating to increase their reach and potential many folds. In the face of rapid evolution of taste and lifestyle of Indian consumer, it is imperative to keep growing by synergising our knowledge of craft with contemporary needs. Bringing together the expertise while not diluting the brand equity is the key in a market with highly fragmented consumer base.
With the recent example of successful collaboration of an Indian designer brand, Sabhyasachi Mukherjee with an international designer brand Christian Louboutin, the trend is clear – maintain your core strength and do not dilute into every product category. In the words of Dr. Najma Heptullah Union Minister for Minority Affairs: "The luxury sector has the potential to create powerful experiences that can help to positively influence societies and cultures by nurturing talent and supporting brand
Marking brand differentiation and brand loyalty, brands are promoting personalisation services. Burberry offering customised scarfs, Gucci offering Made-to-Measure services are just some of examples. A luxury brand must not only personalise its offering to every individual customer, but must also allow possibilities of customisation for easy adaptability.
“ Past offerings by international brands have set the tone for future directions ”
With the increase in consumer desire for exclusive products, luxury brands such as Zegna, Tom Ford, Corenliani are adopting bespoke services, which is an ultimate expression of style.
A robust MTM service flourishes in the men’s category with names like a Zegna; Corneliani; Canali offering a wide choice of suits with master tailors flown in from Italy. Kiton and John Lobb have gone one step ahead by not opening any physical location but simply holding MTM trunk shows at regular intervals.
Technology has made it possible for luxury brands to customise products without compromising on the quality. Past offerings by international brands (Sari by Hermes; Nawab jacket by Canali) have set the tone for future directions. An India-centric range, touches the sensibilities and draws in a fresh audience that can easily connect with the brand.
“ A country like India with vast demand can touch unimaginable heights with the ease of doing business ”
Prime Minister Modi’s aggressive campaign to bring the Indian manufacturing sector to surface has positioned India as a potential manufacturing hub in the eyes of the whole world. According to India Brand Equity Foundation, India’s manufacturing sector could touch $1 trillion by 2025. With focus on minimising business start up procedures and red-tapism, this initiative can provide vital impetus for fostering Indian luxury brands.
A country like India with vast demand can touch unimaginable heights with the ease of doing business. The new generation of Indian designer has opportunities galore as they have the best education and global exposure to create new rules for themselves.
Also, being much younger, they are closer to the millennial mindset to connect with ease by the right offering. Success stories of Shivan & Naresh ; Rahul Misra : Nappa Dori in the past, Suket Dhir winning Woolmark’s Men’swear prize last week (middle January) have set great expectations in this direction.
“ Luxury brands in India will continue to outperform ”
Government initiatives that could affect the luxury landscape are:
- FDI in single brand retail: Latest move by the government in easing the ‘sourcing’ clause on a case-by-case basis in single brand retail could see a renewed activity in luxury brands wanting to enter India.
- GST roll out: Looming tax reforms in form of GST roll out could substantially ease the tax pains of multinational luxury brands and help them operate seamlessly across multiple states and locations.
- Revision of cash transaction limits: To two lakhs from earlier 50,000 could help luxury sectors like fashion, footwear, low end jewellery / watches ; bags and accessories etc.
“ Brands will need to create an omni-channel presence to maintain personal touch with customers across all platforms ”
As the disposable income of the aspiring consumers in India, and the share of men and women as a separate category is increasing, luxury brands in India will continue to outperform.
Brands that can create an omni-channel presence to maintain personal touch with customers across all platforms and focus on maximising the efficiency of supply chain and human capital by training their associates will be the ones to increase conversion and retention.
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