As 2018 comes to a cold & wintry end, as political environment hots up, as new alliances, mergers and acquisitions take shape in business & politics, as GST corrections & FDI norms in ecommerce are tinkered, what is it that the Indian Luxury Industry can look forward to?
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Assocham figures continue to be optimistic and bullish. As per last projection, not only is the industry expected to be of a size of USD 30b by the year end 2018, but is also to continue its growth trajectory unhindered. But alas, the suddenly disturbed seemingly stable political applecart, the floundering rupee, the growing uncertainty, and the eminent global slowdown of 2020 looms large. Ground reality for luxury could be different. Industry insiders, trade analysts and brands all alike seek the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
A seeming direction that the Indian Luxury Industry could take or adopt from the rest of the world appears as under:
- Consolidation is the key: With Reliance brands having taken over Genesis Retail in 2018, the largest fashion and accessory conglomerate of Indian Luxury and premium space has taken shape. With almost no competition, the all-powerful group is set to be the only point of entry into India. Surely independent brands and smaller groups continue to offer their wares, the sheer strength, negotiation powers and might of Reliance will perhaps be the single most driver of the fashion & Luxury space.
- Power of the Common Man: Someone wise enough once said ‘don’t underestimate the power of the common man’. Sure enough, luxury has slowly spread its wings to the hitherto sleepy tier I & tier II towns. The fast emerging Indian market is not only witnessing demand for luxury products from the Metros but also Tier I and Tier II cities which have a sizable number of HNIs (High Net-worth Individuals). Alongside, an increase in wealth for the middle class coupled with internet penetration has resulted in newer segments of first-time luxury buyers. This has given ample space for a whole lot of brands to set up shop in India, retail their brands through distribution networks. This surely will be the next growth driver for Luxury in India.
- Travel, Tourism &Hospitality will drive further growth to the value pie: With increased e-visa processing, faster on the ground arrival support, eye catchy Incredible India campaigns, the tourist inflow from within and outside is likely to further increase. Statistics according to a new report of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) reveal that India’s travel and tourism sector ranks 7th in the world in terms of its total contribution to the country’s GDP.During January-October 2018 FEEs from tourism increased 8.30 per cent year-on-year to US$ 23.54 billion.
- The Great Big Fat Indian Wedding carnivals will drive luxury: The wedding industry and the wedding service industry sets unprecedented benchmarks. According to a 2017 KPMG report titled Market Study of Online Matrimony and Marriage Services in India, the marriage services industry is estimated to be worth approximately US $53.77 billion (Rs 3, 68,100cr).This is one sector which adds incremental sales to all sectors of the industry – from beauty, fashion, accessories, photography, jewellery, travel, hospitality, gifting to also the cuisine segment. With high standards being set by the likes of stars like Anushka Sharma – ViratKohli ; Priyanka Chopra – Nick Jonas& finally the Ambani weddings, the aspiration of average Indian to splurge on weddings is reaching a new peak. With Rolex watches as gifts to the entire wedding procession to bespoke clothing from super luxury brands to not only the entire family but the whole procession adds further fillip to the trade.
- Technology and Luxury: From high end home appliances such as Sub Zero Wolf to tech controlled homes like Home Automat, luxury and technology seem to marry and create an inseparable union. What was earlier restricted to high end laptops and computer systems demand has now invaded the mobile space, the home entertainment space besides the affluent kitchens. Super expensive mobiles from Iphone X to Hanmac are finding a demand que beyond their imagination in India.
- Technology and Retail: Omni-presence now means beyond just available everywhere to also be ‘Phygital’. A merger of the physical and digital retail is quietly invading the global retail. Amazon Go has already launched 8 number of cashier less stores& plans to ramp up to 3000 by 2021. Can India, the tech brain of the world be far behind? In Bangalore, Decathlon launched a similar store by introducing a ‘phygital experience’- an innovative mix of physical retail and digital touch points. From virtual reality to digital payments the intent is to create a fun, unique and immersive user experience designed to engage and add value to for them at every step of the way while choosing their favourite sports gear.On other hand, another concept store called ‘Watasale’ went further to create cashier less store, its first store in Kochi and have plans to expand to other cities including Bengaluru and New Delhi in the near future. Can Indian Luxury ignore this anymore?
- Predictive Analysis to Predictive Selling: The Indian fashion industry proudly receives its first futuristic analysis software, ‘Stylumia’. Created by ex Myntra founder Ganesh Subramanium, the software will assist in better buying to be able to improve efficiencies and sell through ratios. Most Luxury brands dependent on the human predictions of the buyer can now resort to technology and manage their budgets better. This coupled with predictive selling, could bring in the much needed correction in stocks over load with luxury brands.
- Experiential retail, Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence: These three aspects will come to the forefront: Brands like Arvind have introduced Magic Mirrors through its brand Creyate Custom Clothing. Also, Shoppers Stop has launched an innovative augmented reality-based dressing room: ‘The Magic Mirror’. It is an intelligent photo booth that gives customers the option to select and view apparel and accessories on themselves without having to physically ‘try on’ the desired products. Apart from this, ecommerce players such as Lenskart(Eyewear) and Caratlane (Jewellery) are already into Virtual trial of the products by customers.
- Rent a Luxury / Reusable Luxury are a reality: What started as a trickle two years back, is now a stream with more ventures offering specialised product categories arriving at the horizon.Websites such as Confidential Couture offer usable Luxury Goods while Ziniosa & Rent A Closet offer fashion on rent.And now, even the affluent women are renting high end jewellery for their wedding. The fashion rental market is becoming the biggest trend. A wedding suit or gown worth Rs. one lakh could be rented for as low as Rs. 2000 to Rs. 2500! It is estimated that the online wedding rental business is worth Rs. 100 crore and the existing players have claimed a 25 to 50 per cent year-on-year surge in business (Black Book).
- Sustainable, Authentic and Responsible Luxury is being sought for: GrassRootby Anita Dongre and Nicobar by Good Earth are few names that are famous for their Sustainable offerings.Slowly but surely, the well exposed Indian consumer seeks value over mere brand name. Value definitions are shifting rapidly in line with global shifts. A brand who pays heed to such demands will perhaps go a long way.
- SUVs take over the roads: Various variants of SUVs have been introduced by automakers of all categories. From Mahindra XUV 500 to Lamborghini Urus, Rolls Royce Cullanin to Porsche Cayenne, almost all Luxury brands have come up with their SUV variant. Sale of SUVs grew seven times faster than that of passenger sedans. While small cars and sedans managed a growth of 3% in the last financial year, the sales of SUV grew 21%. The share of SUVs in overall passenger vehicle sales rose to nearly 30 % in 2017-18, compared to 14% recorded at the end of March 2017-18.According to numbers released by Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (Siam), 9.2 lakh SUVs were sold in 2017-18 against 7.6 lakh units in the previous year.
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Abhay Gupta, Luxury Expert, Author, Speaker, Professor of Luxury Management.
Founder & CEO Luxury Connect& Luxury Connect Business School.