MUMBAI: Wealthy, fashion-forward Indian women are driving India's fast-growing luxury market, as new data estimates the sector to be worth US$9bn.

According to a report in the Economic Times, based on data from industry body ASSOCHAM, India is home to over 1,200 ultra-affluent women with a combined net worth of about $100bn.

These women, although small in number, have tremendous purchasing power and are largely based in India's Tier 1 and 2 cities.

The research indicates that there are growing opportunities for luxury brands in India's biggest cities, as the country's working women enjoy rising disposable income and become financial decision makers in their homes.

Women are also more aware of international brands and are more connected online than ever before – both factors which indicate market potential for premium retailers.

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ASSOCHAM interviewed 500 affluent Indian women and revealed that perception of higher quality is a major driver of luxury purchases in the demographic and that, for many, cost is not an issue.

Jewellery, watches, apparel and accessories, personal care and electronic products are the top five categories for women in the luxury sector, the study noted.

"As professional women are emerging as new decision makers and make most of their household purchases, it is imperative for luxury brands to open dedicated women's stores and expand their product offerings to build long-term relationships with this new breed of luxury spenders," said D S Rawat, Secretary General of ASSOCHAM.

"Luxury industry is becoming more female dominated as women's brands have experienced a steep rise," he added. "There is a huge scope for leading global luxury retail brands to expand their India footprint, by focusing on 'women special' product portfolio and carrying out innovative marketing campaigns."

Data sourced from Economic Times; additional content by Warc staff