NEW DELHI: Indian consumers are changing their attitudes to luxury goods, shedding a disdain for conspicuous consumption, opting for seasonal items and embracing bright colours that stand out.
A number of factors are at work, including a generational shift, the increasing visibility of high-end items and innovative marketing.
Jamal Shaikh, editorial director of the Robb Report India, told Little India that "luxury magazines have exposed what was traditionally considered obnoxious spending to a people that believed that being frugal was the only way to live."
In addition, hybrid malls, which mix luxury and non-luxury stores with customized service, have reached a new set of buyers. "The customer who shops at Zara here also shops at Burberry," noted Atul Ruia, managing director of Phoenix Mills, a Mumbai mall owner.
"Hybrid malls have been a huge driver of luxury goods' sales," he added. "The numbers are surprising the luxury companies themselves."
While the economic developments of the past decade have hugely enriched some people, it is their children who will drive the luxury goods sector, argued Vispi Patel, group director, Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessey India.
"The new, young, upper middle class who will spend rather than save will be new-generation, first-time customers for luxury products. They will fuel growth," he said.
Such buyers are also likely to become more interested in changes in fashion. "Some come to our stores every season to buy the same bag or shoes in different colours which proves that luxury is becoming fast fashion in India and a way of life," Priya Sachdev, creative director of TSG International Marketing, told the Economic Times.
Luxury sales are no longer reliant on the main metropolitan areas as brands develop innovative marketing to reach into Tier 2 cities. Judith Leiber, the luxury handbag maker, for example, ran an exclusive trunk show in Indore and shifted a tenth of its annual sales at one event.
"India is an investing market," said Patel. "If you set up a particular store or brand, even one that is relatively unknown, if you choose the right location, stock it adequately and promote it sufficiently, there will always be demand."
Data sourced from Little India, Economic Times; additional content by Warc staff