If the recent foray of premium luxury brands into Indian retail sector is any guide, then the average Indian, after shunning foreign luxury brands for decades and sticking loyally to home-grown products, is finally warming up to luxury brands.
The luxury market has picked up quite a pace; according to A.T. Kearney, the global management consulting firm, it is expected to reach about $14.72 billion by 2015 end and then double to $30 billion by 2015. Although high end or midrange luxury items often come with an extremely hefty price tag, one can not ignore its master craftsmanship or its assured quality.
Lured by the India’s growth rate of 8%- 9%, international luxury brands of repute are flocking to India, to be a part of the Great Indian Growth Story. Starting from last year, the second half of it saw the entry of L’Occitane, the French cosmetics and fragrance company, into Indian spa industry in partnership with Devi Spa, Udaipur. This premier cosmetics company which started its operations in New Delhi last year now plans to expand its base by opening stores at upcoming towns and cities across the country. Touted as an affordable luxury brand, L’Occitane is affordable luxury indeed.
Giving this brand stiff competition will be another French cosmetic giant L’Oreal, which already has its own fan base among Indian women, and other home-grown ayurvedic brands like Shahnaz Husain, Blossom Kocchar, to name a few.
Not to be outdone by the French, the Italians are here, with the exotic Italian home furnishings brand Ipe Cavalli (not to be confused with the Italian fashion designer Roberto Cavalli), famous for manufacturing breathtakingly beautiful high-end furniture, announcing its foray into the décor segment. The first store will be launched in partnership with International Furniture brands (IFBrands), a retail chain for luxury home products. Out of the five Ipe Cavalli brands – Visionnaire, Streadlined, Contemporary Classics, Antica Tapezzeria Ducale, and CasaNova – the first collection to come to India will be Visionnaire.
Another Italian furniture brand which will bring world class furniture to India is Giorgetti. While Ipe Cavalli specializes in mainly baroque style of furnishing, Giorgetti is the ultimate contemporary design furniture. The brand recently opened its first standalone showroom in Mumbai.
For automobile enthusiasts, things have probably never looked this good. Ferrari, the iconic Italian sports car maker, is all set to grace the Indian automotive sector in April, this year. The company has reportedly tied up with Shreyans Motors to distribute its high-end luxury cars at showrooms in Mumbai and New Delhi.
The Ferrari models available at the showrooms will be Ferrari California, 458 Italia, the 599 GTB and the 612 Scaglietti models along with the brand merchandise.
Close on the heels of the Italians, come the Swedes, with the supercar Koenigsegg Agera, the newest offering from the Koenigsegg stable, set to make a grand debut on Indian roads some time next month. Even Mercedes Benz, a long-time player in Indian luxury car segment, has sought to re-launch the Maybach. Priced at a mind-boggling INR51 million, this is one car you can not afford unless, of course, your name happens to be on the Forbes List of 40 Richest Indians.
In spite of the recent spurt of growth, luxury market in India is still in a nascent stage and a decade or more will pass before luxury brands are fully accepted by the generally frugal Indians.
Moreover, finding a proper foothold in the Indian retail space, already saturated with modestly-priced, indigenous products, can prove to be a Herculean task for these premium product companies.
Will India indulge? What do you say?