Luxury’s New Mantra

Manan Gandhi knows how to bring the zing back into India’s luxury market – target the youth

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AWARENESS If there’s a single word that can sum up the change in consumer behaviour patterns of the Indian youth over the past decade, it is awareness. People under 35, who comprise 75 per cent of the population, are every marketer’s dream as well as worst nightmare. This demographic is highly discerning, aspirational and unafraid to make bold choices and challenge the erstwhile notions of luxury. With the means to buy what they desire, they’re the growth drivers of a market that’s been pegged at a whopping $18.5 billion, and growing 20 per cent annually. So, what gets them to remain loyal, and what does the luxury market look like from the perspective of the contemporary Indian?

CONVENIENCE For one, they’re spoilt for choice. International labels dominate the affordable luxury space and, driven by demand from tier two and tier three cities, brands have expanded online. The luxurious life is now delivered to your doorstep, probably a day later if you’re willing to pay an extra buck. The erstwhile notion of luxury being beyond the means of most is being challenged every day.

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SOMETHING SPECIAL There’s also a shift in the preference for brands that offer a distinct experience, either through their unique packaging or product, which speaks of an independent identity that appeals to a growing tribe of Indian consumers who are tired of the mainstream. While this is still a niche market, it’s rapidly expanding as can be witnessed through the growth of homegrown labels in the beauty, clothes and accessories space. Indian at heart and contemporary in outlook, these brands have carved a space for themselves in the closets of the young Indians who are looking to make a statement with their choices and are proud of their roots.

VALUE FOR EXPERIENCE Urban Indians, though liberal with their spending habits, are also value conscious. They’ll invest their money where they see returns. For the luxury sector, this translates to—’the better a purchase and customer service experience, the better the benefits of loyalty’. A lot of brands have caught on to this, and go out of their way to ensure that they’re doing their best to rope in this key clientele. Take, for instance, the growth of the concept store in the country. Typically, housing a selection of highly curated brands, these stores offer a different shopping experience—complete with a café or community space, they add a personal touch to rope in customers and keep them coming back.

EXPERIMENT For brands, there’s never been a better time to experiment. With the consumers leaning towards making a distinct impression with their lifestyle choices, it’s a level playing field even for the newer entrants. As India’s influence on the global luxury market grows, this will be an interesting space to watch, both from the product innovation standpoint, as well as from the consumer choices angle, which will define trends for the next few years.

Manan Gandhi is the founder of Bombay Perfumery

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