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Luxury brands drop exclusivity, go plebeian

Luxury brands drop exclusivity, go plebeian
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First Published: Thu, Sep 27 2007. 10 01 AM IST
Updated: Thu, Sep 27 2007. 10 01 AM IST
Mumbai: International luxury brands known for their high-end positioning are stepping on to plebeian ground to appeal to India’s growing luxury market, which isn’t all concentrated in its top metros.
Luxury brands are wedging themselves between breaks in Bollywood films at cinema halls and sneaking into top ad spots on Indian television soaps. And to break into the market, luxury brands are going all out to target one of the most extravagant of Indian occasions—the big fat wedding.
Recently, a French fashion designer launched a special line of wedding lehengas for the Indian market. And Brand Marketing India, which is the Indian partner for international luxury retailers such as La Perla, Gucci and Jimmy Choo, will launch a luxury wedding service this ­season.
“It is one time when even families with moderate means splurge,” said Radha Chadha, co-author of The Cult Of The Luxury Brand: Inside Asia’s Love Affair With Luxury. “Wedding season gives unique access to the Indian wallet.”
Pegged at Rs2,400 crore by consulting firm Technopak, India’s luxury market will grow at 30-35% a year, according to a study by the company.
And it is not just the products and positioning that is being localized. International luxury brands are also speaking a less exclusive language.
As Italian luxury lingerie brand La Perla opens its first Indian store in November, it will not just advertise in glossy fashion magazines but also in less snootyGujarati, Marathi and Hindi counterparts.
“We don’t want our potential to be restricted to the English- speaking, urban elite,” Andrea Bonardi, La Perla’s managing director for South Asia said. “We want to reach out to those who are rich but not exposed to English or international fashion trends.”
Advertisements for international, high-end perfumes such as Nina Ricci, Escada, Jean Paul Gaultier and Azzaro are now common during popcorn breaks in Bollywood potboilers at cinema halls.
Localizing promotions is also helping these brands acquire a uniquely Indian context. British upmarket clothes retailer French Connection UK (FCUK), known for its provocative ad campaigns, has come up with a new marketing campaign which is a first for the brand. While they do use some of their international content, their Indian marketing effort will be built around an online and offline fashion community, complete with a fashion jury for the Indian market.
The move to use vernacular media with a wider reach is also driven by the luxury retailers’ attempt to tap India’s smaller cities, where some of the big spenders are looking to burn cash. Italian menswear retailer Ermenegildo Zegna and FCUK are among several premium brands scouting for space in cities such as Bangalore, Pune and Hyderabad. “While international retailers are focused on big cities, in the three or four years they have been here, the second level of growth will come from smaller cities over time,” Chadha said.
So, it is now mandatory for sales staff at French luxury retailer Chanel’s beauty products counters in Chennai to speak Tamil and Kannada in Bangalore, said Xavier Bertrand, general manager, Chanel India.
The urge to reach for Indian wallets is also creating a new line of products to match the purse size. For instance, French luxury retailer Moet Henessey Louis Vuitton is creating a watch collection for its luxury sports watch brand Tag Heuer for the Indian market, which could be priced from Rs50,000 onwards.
It is among several luxury products that are being repositioned in trying to reach wealthy Indian customers. “It is clear that Indian customers are educated about luxury, and sophisticated and do use luxury products, but in an Indian way,” Ravi Thakran, the group’s South Asia group president, said.
saumya.r@livemint.com
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First Published: Thu, Sep 27 2007. 10 01 AM IST