While India’s growing economy has attracted several international brands to set up shop here, most of the premium luxury brands are still missing from the market here. The two-day Mint Hindustan Times Luxury Conference, held in the Capital on March 28-29, highlighted various issues concerning luxury marketing in India and creating global brands.
Speaking at the opening session on ‘Feeling Good: The Role of Luxury’, Mark Lee, CEO, Gucci, quoting a Nielsen survey, said, “Aspiration levels in India are very high and 48 per cent Indians aspire for a Gucci product. India will emerge as one of our key markets in the coming years. However, today it is still in a state of infancy.” Currently, Gucci has two stores in India and plans to open two more in 2008. Lee added that infrastructure remained a constraint and unlike China, where Gucci opened one store every six weeks, the company was far more cautious in India.
Vittorio Missoni, Chairman of Missoni, and Vice Chairman of Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana, an association of luxury brand manufacturers, invited Indian brands and designers to become part of this association. He said, “There is potential in India because of its craftsmanship and art. The colours and styles of India are a perfect fit with those of Italy.”
For Nakul Anand, Divisional Chief Executive, ITC Hotels, “Luxury is more about taste and not money.” He further said that ITC was looking seriously at luxury retailing and large commercial spaces had been earmarked for that purpose in all their new properties.
Sunil Sethi, CEO, Sunil Sethi Design Alliance, pointed out, “Many foreign designers and manufacturers are already outsourcing from India, mainly in the home furnishing area. Armani, for one, is going into the hotel business and has placed orders for over 70 products from India. Berkus has placed orders of over Rs 50 crore. To meet this demand, JJ Vallaya is shortly launching home stores in select cities.”
In a telling comment, Frank Zambrelli, President and Creative Director, Lieber, said “India has shown us that a country can maintain its culture and yet become a world superpower. We need to follow the Indian model and not try to impose or copy the Western one.” He announced that Lieber would open its first store in India in the next few weeks. As a gesture to Indian tradition, he showcased a jeweled Ganesha that has been specially designed for the start of Lieber’s India operations.
All the speakers at the Mint Hindustan Times Luxury Conference agreed that India was an emerging market, with huge potential. This was the time to enter this market, when infrastructure was coming up to meet the demands of luxury brands.