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Understanding luxury, Indian style, JWT and France’s ESC Rennes throw some light

04-October-2007
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Understanding luxury, Indian style, JWT and France’s ESC Rennes throw some light

JWT and ESC Rennes School of Business had joined hands to understand how international luxury brands can best leverage the opportunities offered by the Indian market.

This collaboration brought together the French pedigree in luxury understanding with a first hand feel and insight into India’s evolving luxury consumer, thereby identifying pathways that would drive and expand luxury consumption.

The global luxury goods market is estimated at around $1 trillion and is expected 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 a diverse range of sectors from fashion, automotive to leisure are investing heavily to capture a share of the Indian luxury rupee.

Glyn Atwal, Professor for Marketing at ESC Rennes School of Business, said, “The Indian luxury market has got massive potential. It is not just about the rise of the affluent classes that is driving luxury consumption, but about the emergence of a very dynamic consumption culture in general. The fact that ‘Vogue’ has just launched its very first edition here in India is evidence that the luxury fashion industry means business.”

A key learning stemming from the research was the need for luxury brands to develop experiential branding strategies. Elaborating on the study, Shaziya Khan, Vice-President and Strategic Planning Director, JWT, said, “It is interesting that luxury is not just all about status but goes beyond displaying social status. Our research reveals that luxury evokes increasingly strong emotional reactions. It’s about how it makes you feel.”

A significant finding of the research study was the emergence of the concept of ‘Indian luxury’. According to Atwal, “Luxury brands can still be global, but the notion of ‘Indianness’ 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.” He further said, “Our research is suggesting 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.”

Said Khan, “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.”

Qualitative research was conducted with affluent consumers from Mumbai in order to guide the development of implementation of luxury branding strategies. The objectives of the research study were to understand the perception of luxury within an Indian context, identify key motivational drivers of luxury consumption and investigate the concept of ‘Indian luxury’. Preliminary findings of the research study were presented at the 16th Asia Brand Congress, held in Mumbai on September 26 and 27.

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