A few weeks ago, I had a long telephone conversation with a marketing manager, and a good friend, who works for a major Swiss watch company. Every once in a while, she calls me and we have long rambling conversations about our professional and personal lives.
This time, she seemed particularly perturbed about the Indian market. India is a market that Marie—let’s call her that for the purpose of this note—takes very seriously, and is close to her heart. She travels to Delhi and Mumbai often to meet with retailers and customers. And even though business in India is nary a blip on her global sales radar, Marie has always had high hopes for the country.
For the first time since I’ve known her, and I’ve known her for four years, she sounded pessimistic. The currency was weak. Growth was slowing. The economy was cooling at a fierce pace. From a business perspective, things were looking very bleak indeed.
Marie wanted me to reassure her that everything would get better.
I did not. Instead, I told her that things would probably get a lot worse before they got any better. With the government fending off corruption allegation after corruption allegation, where was the time for reform?
I suspect she was in tears by the time we were done.
Recent developments may make me look very stupid indeed. Reforms are afoot. The Prime Minister is speaking to the people. Political risks are being taken for the sake of common sense. Maybe things will get better after all.
If all that is promised pans out, the luxury market in India could change very quickly. Make no mistake about it, luxury brands are aching to hit this market and hit it hard.
Our cover feature this issue is a first for Indulge: a men’s fashion spread. One of the locations for the shoot is the spectacular Hermès store at Horniman Circle in Mumbai.
Horniman Circle could, in the near future, be to Mumbai what Place Vendôme is to Paris: a glittering retail hub. Gossip on the street is that Hermès’s success will draw more big names to the location. This could do wonders not just for Horniman Circle, but for retail spaces nationally. Brands such as Hermès or Vacheron Constantin will set such a high bar for retail experience that other brands, even lesser ones, will be forced to follow suit.
But all that depends on policy and execution.
I am keeping my fingers crossed and my wallet within reach.