Luxury Customisation - The Secret Ingredient

For all you design houses out there, there are new creative designers in town. They decide the colour, cut and material of the product they are going to flaunt. We are talking about your consumers who are welcoming customisation with wide arms. Are you realising the importance of this additional service yet?

By: Karishma Parkash

Posted on: November 10, 2010

Bottega Veneta Knot Clutch made for IndiaYou recognize the ever so famous LV logo on her bag, but wonder what the subtle KM embossed in gold stands for. His Louis Chevrolet watch has a dial that spells exclusivity and style keeping in step with his better half’s special golden Jimmy Choos. No, we aren’t talking about Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, but people like you and me who have an extreme affinity to flaunt and worship the big Ls (labels I mean).

Most people today flaunt it if they got it and luxury brands mark their presence by ensuring that their brand signature is distinctly seen. Made to perfection, luxury items stand out and embody certain ideals. But what if your own personals could be embodied too?

Customer is king. Yes, you have heard it a million and one times before, but have you seen it? Most fashion brands are likely to focus now on pampering their best and most loyal consumers, plugging in resources to customize upscale products that will be designed or tailored especially to their tastes. The success of personalised luxury goods could keep a customer repeatedly coming back for more. Customization provides customer the possibility of participation in the product creation process. Luxury brands, in turn, are beginning to understand the multiple benefits of customization and how they can get a loyal following of clients without over-exposing their brands.

Do you have these?
Jimmy Choo Kenzie golden shoe bestseller in IndiaCustomization, as a means of establishing personal connections with the end consumers, is here to stay. Luxury apparel brand Canali had customised the traditional Indian bandgala, calling it the Canali Nawab Jacket, with Italian standards of perfection, specifically for Indian ceremonial occasions. Bottega Veneta did a special Indian knot clutch last year and Jimmy Choo also did customised gold shoes and a bag targeted at the Indian wedding market.

Watch brand Louis Chevrolet specializes in limited edition watches and offers consumers the option to self-customize the watch according to their preferences. Right from a variety of straps, dials, materials, engraved plaques on the side of watch cases or even a customized dial, the customer could have his pick. 

Realising the importance of special occasions is Dom Pérignon with the ‘Dom Pérignon Wedding’ box. Containing 12 bottles of Dom Pérignon Vintage 2000, the package also features an exquisite white lacquered box that holds an additional bottle of Dom Pérignon Vintage 2000 with a unique silver label which can be personalized with the bride and groom’s names and the date of their wedding. Gaurav Bhatia, Marketing Director, Moët Hennessy India, said, “Dom Pérignon is an exceptional wine, and as eternal as the memory of a special moment in time. Therefore the 'Dom Pérignon Wedding' gift box is an unforgettable gift to present on such a special occasion.”

Judith Leiber has timeless minaudières which are custom made, with up to three initials in either block or script font and is available in multiple colour options. Sangeeta Assomull, CEO of Marigold Group, says, “Indian Judith Leiber aficionados have loved the idea of having a bespoke luxury bag and we have seen the demand increase over the last year.” Judith Leiber has beautiful collectible clutches specially crafted keeping the Indian spirit in mind. ‘The Ganesha’ minaudière is an ultimate representation of India. This American brand also launched a special collection with Indian fashion designer Suneet Varma which includes the Jodhpur Palace bag (an intricate and colourful crystal reflection of the palace through the garden’s lotus pond) and the Pietra Dura (inspired by the paneling of Taj Mahal).

Indian love for luxury
Roasie Ahluwalia, GM at Genesis Luxury, says, “Some Indians today do appreciate something that fits in with their cultural requirements as it becomes more versatile for their use.” She added that the power to customize a luxury brand was an important factor as luxury is all about exclusivity and acquiring something that is not easily available. Hence, when the consumers get an option of customized luxury products, it adds to the overall appeal of the purchase.

According to Rahul Jain, MD, Mosaiko Watches Pvt. Ltd, most mainstream customers want products that are current and popular globally and not cheaper/less sophisticated versions for the Indian market. People are inquiring about customized timepieces which reflect each customer’s unique personality. The extra time period is not an issue and customers take a lot of joy in designing something themselves. Sophisticated customers like brands adapting to their personalities, needs and preferences and not the other way around. Gone are the days when customers would blindly aspire to wear a certain brand. Instead, leading brands now aspire to craft a watch that fits the desires of customers.

Judith Leiber Peacock miniaudiere India inspiration“Bespoke luxury is that special dream that is interpreted into a reality. It is private, personal and often sentimental. It is made exclusively for you and therefore reflects who you really are,” said Assomull. Jain added, “A customized product offers instant exclusivity, something that not even the most expensive stock product can offer. In developed markets like China and South East Asia, consumers have been willing to pay a significant premium for the chance to wear an exclusive, customized product. In India, customization for watches is still a novelty so we don’t yet have enough data points to judge the consumer’s willingness to pay a premium. Early signs are encouraging though.”

The other side
A lot of brands refuse to customize for the Indian market and prefer a universal approach to every market. Recently, John Hooks, Deputy Chairman of Giorgio Armani said at the CII Luxury Goods Forum, that they would prefer to keep the global language of their products intact rather than customizing for a particular market. Supporting this viewpoint is Ahluwalia who pointed out that while customization is a good idea and some brands have tasted success through this route, it is not an imperative. Supporting the other side is Jain who said “I would argue that for luxury products, customization will happen at a much more granular level, i.e. not for an entire country but a sub-set of consumers if not an individual consumer.”

Many luxury brands have a pessimistic view of customization and the major challenge lies in changing the orientation and thinking of luxury companies. Luxury brands need to recognize customization as a core aspect of their corporate strategies and a booster of brand equity. This may give these brands an initial jump ahead of the eventual competition.

Developing luxury brands involves heavy investment of time, effort and money, and most importantly, a seriousness to accept customization as an important aspect of their brand. Patience and proper understanding of the consumer’s needs and preferences may serve as an apt guide for luxury brands trying to create in-roads in the Indian market.

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