Clad in a pair of blue denims, a check shirt and a pair of sneakers, Karan Bhangay, two days’ worth of stubble on his face, looks completely out of place at a luxury expo. But, in fact, this 25-year-old is the brains behind The Indian Luxury Expo (TILE) 2012.
Earlier this month, Bhangay’s entertainment and lifestyle company—Jukebox Media—organized The Indian Luxury Expo, the first of its kind in India, showcasing some of the finest luxury brands across various verticals under one roof.
The exhibition will tour five Indian cities in the next one year. The inaugural edition was held between 17 and 19 December at N Convention in the heart of Hyderabad’s Hitec City. If things go according to Bhangay’s plans, the exhibition will visit Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and Bangalore by next August.
The expo showcased some prominent brands across 20 lifestyle segments, from high-end cars to imported home décor and high-end jewellery, apparel and perfumes. Brands featured in Hyderabad included Lamborghini, Land Rover, Bentley, Rolls-Royce, Aston Martin, Harley-Davidson, Ulysse Nardin, Montblanc, Lladro and Gitanjali jewels. Artists such as photographer Saad Bin Jung and painter Ram Indranil Kamath also showcased their work at the expo.
Despite sluggishness in the overall Indian economy, one sector that is still growing well and has outpaced others is the luxury goods business.
“The economic slump does not affect the luxury sector as the people who have money and have a taste for the finer things will always be ready to spend,” said Bhangay.
Market research firm Euromonitor, in a report released earlier this year, estimated the value of luxury goods sold in India at $2.18 billion in 2011. According to the report, India is poised to overtake China as the fastest growing luxury goods market in the world. And this thanks to a growing number of high-networth individuals.
Over the next five years, Euromonitor reckons that the luxury business in India will more than triple to $7 billion. This means an annualized growth of 22% vis-à-vis an estimated growth in China of 15%. If these estimates are even remotely accurate, Bhangay seems to be in the right place at the right time.
But there are problems. The biggest, Bhangay points out, is the lack of proper infrastructure. “There just aren’t enough retailing locations premium enough to draw the right clients or house the right brands. The idea of a roving expo is one solution to this shortfall.”
“We aim to make the expo a permanent fixture on the global luxury map by catering to the essence of the luxury market and opening avenues for newer audiences. In a country where luxury brands are still wondering how to reach their core consumer due to the lack of luxury malls, The Indian Luxury Expo is trying to make that task easier for all,” he added.
With one city down, the expo seems to be working. After some initial hiccups on Day One, the three-day event seems to have satisfied both the organizers and, more importantly, the exhibiting brands.
“On the very first day itself, we have had five bookings for the new Range Rover,” executives from Inline 4 Motors Pvt. Ltd, the dealers for Jaguar and Land Rover cars in Andhra Pradesh, told Indulge.
They were not alone. Officials from Garapati Autoventures Pvt. Ltd, which is the dealer of Polaris’s all-terrain vehicles in Andhra Pradesh, said Polaris had five confirmed bookings for its RZR 800, while Lamborghini said it had two confirmed bookings and received numerous enquiries.
“Hyderabad is hot for most luxury brands and there is lot of opportunity here. Definitely, it is a growing market,” said Girish Bajaj, a consultant for the expo.
It wasn’t a cakewalk though to convince the brands for the expo. “But many agreed with our vision and thought the idea was worth going ahead with,” says Bhangay. “I still remember sitting in a dormitory in Mumbai and talking to the brand heads of Louis Vuitton and then locking in three brands side by side.”
When asked about what his future plans are with regards to the expo, Bhangay sounded confident. “In two years from now, I expect, and would love, to have 10 of these expos throughout the country,” he said.