As marketers dissect luxury into 'premium luxury' and 'affordable luxury', we take a look at what the word really connotes today. And, if luxury is, in part, going mass, then how does a marketer create exclusivity around a brand?
Sanjay Tripathy, senior EVP, marketing - product, digital, e-commerce, HDFC Life
The rise of a confident consumer class, which is starting to experience premium and luxury brands, has become a symbol of an increasingly dynamic luxury market that transcends India's 'old money'. The luxury market in India has moved, from being exclusively for the elite few, to the masses.
Luxury has become younger. The young population that India now boasts of is all about instant gratification. Brands have realised this. For example, Mercedes in India traditionally targeted the older and affluent demographic. Audi, taking stock of the situation, decided to target the growing number of younger consumers who were aspiring for luxury cars. In the process, Mercedes learnt to not overlook this young, but growing, target group.
Luxury has evolved from being a statement to a reflection of one's personality. People wear luxury brands that reflect their personality, irrespective of the price. Smartphones are a perfect example: iPhone ruled the roost when it came to luxury phones, but Samsung, with its S series and Note series, took over the market. Now, the high-end models of both brands cost the same and are equally popular. It isn't about price or brand anymore, but about the personality of the phone.
Luxury has become accessible. The internet has levelled the playing field to a large extent, putting more power in the hands of consumers, who now have a platform that enables them to shop on their terms.
Khushboo Rai, senior manager, media and communications, Rajhans, marketer of Schmitten, a luxury chocolate brand
Purchasing power has increased. The 'aspiring class' wants to have an enriched experience of quality and appearance; luxury appears to be going mass in India.
In the Indian context, if a product is able to offer a luxurious solution to consumers' recurring aspirations, then there is every chance the product will be picked up. While the Indian masses may appear parsimonious, they're willing to spend whenever it makes them feel distinguished or sophisticated.
Amit Kumar Gope, general manager, marketing, Centuryply, a brand that positions itself as 'aspirational', an overused marketing term that often connotes 'luxury'
Communication plays a vital role. There might be very little differentiation on the product and quality fronts. But the logo on the product, and the communication, can create the perception of luxury. This is true for most categories.
As regards the degree of premium-ness that justifies the definition of luxury - sometimes there is no monetary value attached. And if a customer is willing to pay that premium, then the product becomes 'affordable'.
Charu Malhotra, DGM, marketing, Somany Ceramics, a sanitary ware brand, that belongs to a category that has come to position itself as a 'luxurious' one
Being in the tiles and sanitary ware industry, we define our products as belonging to the luxury segment, as they ease the living conditions of the users. We provide customers with an embellished living ambience and gratify the elementary needs of 'living', by preventing skidding on tiles at home and by offering sanitation in the living areas and bathrooms. It's about the value that the product provides. The more the perceived value, the more luxurious the product becomes.
Through well-thought and beautifully articulated marketing, a product can be made to look luxurious to its target group.
Thus, luxury is a by-product of self-satisfaction and a feeling of fulfilment and achievement in society.
Subrata Chakraborty, managing director, Brand Curry Communications, an advertising and marketing solutions firm
Today, the desire for indulgence and the cognitive need for a good bargain are contradictory as per the traditional rule book of luxury marketing. This is a unique phenomenon in India.
Indian luxury consumers have handled this cognitive dissonance by turning into a set of closet consumers. They indulge in luxury as they extract deals and bargains. This defines the luxury market today.