NEW DELHI: LVMH, the luxury goods group, believes India is at the "phase one" stage of its development, but offers considerable growth potential going forward.

Speaking to Knowledge at Wharton, Tikka Shatrujit Singh, chief representative for LVMH in Asia and an advisor to its Louis Vuitton division, outlined the market's current status.

He said: "Phase one of development in a country like India is with the very affluent. They have the same trends as global customers. They travel. They've seen the world. They want similar products as consumers across the world."

However, while wealthy Indians exhibit many of the same needs as their peers elsewhere, Singh suggested they make large numbers of purchases, from shoe cases to watch cabinets, through Louis Vuitton's bespoke order unit.

"What is different with the Indian consumer is that he still wants something specially made for him," said Singh. These were traditions which India, in a way, excelled in and they still are very much in vogue today."

Looking ahead, the tipping point for India's luxury sector may only arrive once a new generation of shoppers are capable of entering the category.

"The aspiring middle class, which is actually the game changer, they see what Bollywood is doing, what the Indian tycoon is doing, what the young politician is buying and they follow that trend," said Singh.

Reflecting this process, Louis Vuitton's marketing often features members of Indian royalty who can trace connections with the brand back for 100 years, as well as using glamorous actors and actresses.

"We have to be careful that the brand is always positioned at a level they are aspiring to reach. It has to be managed very carefully," said Singh.

In engaging such a target audience, the firm has pursued a variety of activities, from magazine advertising to high-profile events like lighting up the iconic Gateway of India in Mumbai.

"The strategy," Singh said, "is simple: to get the message across through different media, different avenues of communication; to do very select events that are unique; to always make the consumer, and this middle class, feel that here is a brand that is always thinking out of the box, and any experience with Vuitton is a surprise."

Data sourced from Knowledge@Wharton; additional content by Warc staff