ESC Rennes School of Business and JWT India's planning function have joined hands to release a study on the luxury market in India, and how luxury brands can best leverage the opportunities thrown up by the Indian market.
This collaboration brings together the French pedigree in luxury understanding with a first-hand feel and insight into India's evolving luxury consumer base, thereby identifying pathways that will drive and expand luxury consumption.
The global luxury goods market has an estimated value of $1 trillion and is forecast to double by 2010. India has been identified as an important source of this growth. It is projected that the Indian luxury market will grow at about 30-35 per cent per annum. Luxury brands from diverse sectors such as fashion, automotive and leisure are investing heavily to grab their share of the Indian luxury rupee.
Glyn Atwal, professor, marketing, at the ESC Rennes School of Business, France, says, "The Indian luxury market has got massive potential. It is not just the rise of the affluent classes that is driving luxury consumption, but the emergence of a very dynamic consumption culture in general." He adds that the launch of international fashion magazine 'Vogue' in India is evidence that the luxury fashion industry means business.
Qualitative research was conducted with affluent consumers in Mumbai in order to guide the development of luxury branding strategies. The objectives of the research study were to understand the perception of luxury within the Indian context, identify key motivational drivers of luxury consumption, and investigate the concept of 'Indian luxury'.
A key learning stemming from the research was the need for luxury brands to develop experiential branding strategies. "It is interesting that luxury is not just all about status, but goes beyond displaying social status," says Shaziya Khan, vice-president and director, strategic planning, JWT Mumbai. Further, it was revealed that luxury evokes increasingly strong emotional reactions on how it makes one feel.
Quality and exclusivity are often taken for granted when acquiring luxury goods and services. Consumers want luxury brands that reflect their personality. "They also want the experience," adds Khan. The research reveals that many luxury brands need to improve on delivering a holistic brand experience if they are to connect with the luxury clientele.
According to Glyn Atwal, "Our research suggests that there is scope for improvement for delivering customer service. The consumption of luxury is not about a transactional relationship, it is essentially about developing deep and meaningful relationships."
A significant finding of the research study was the emergence of the concept, 'Indian luxury'. "India has very strong traditions in luxury and this is certainly an integral aspect of Indian luxury," says Khan. Further, the rise of India in the last decade or so has forged a very strong cultural identity - that of India being 'cool'. This has important implications for Western luxury brands.
Atwal concludes, "Luxury brands can still be global, but the notion of 'Indian-ness' should not be underestimated. Luxury is no longer just about evoking Western influenced values and lifestyles. India has a very powerful and unique identity and this needs to be leveraged."
The research study will be extended to other countries in order to gain a geographical representation.