A book that attempts to elucidate India’s luxury market astutely, ‘The Incredible Indian Luxury Bazaar’ is a must for all those who wish to understand this unique country and its citizens
By: Soumya Jain Agarwal
Posted on: May 12, 2020
The Indian luxury industry is at a cusp of sorts. The year 2020 was leading up to an emergence of a more mature Millennial customer, an increasingly conscious Gen Z-er, and an industry that was at the verge of finding that unique, ideal balance between online and offline when COVID-19 struck. And with a force that has shaken the entire world, making it bend its knees in acquiescence.
The luxury products market in India, which is around $6.25 billion, was expected to grow at 10-15% until 2022 (The Economic Times). But of course, these numbers are going to change extraordinarily now.
The formulas have changed now, but maybe not by much. Covid-19 has made the Millennial even more mature, the Gen-Z even more conscious, and the luxury industry is hurtling towards digitalization, artificial intelligence and other technologies at a breathtaking speed. There is no balance between online and offline. For now, it’s only online. The hardest hit industries are, of course, travel, F&B and hospitality, which were once destined for the highest success.
All these unforeseeable changes don’t mar the importance of ‘The Incredible Indian Luxury Bazaar’, a well-researched publication by Abhaya Gupta – someone who has seen the industry up and close for the past 15 years, ever since the modern Indian luxury industry took birth. After working with many international luxury brands such as Versace and Corneliani, Mr. Gupta currently heads Luxury Connect and Luxury Connect Business School.
With more than 50% of its population being young, India is an attractive proposition for all retail brands. But as Mr. Gupta said in his short video interview, it is this young consumer, which makes India a hard nut to crack for luxury brands.
There are these and similar other conundrums which Mr. Gupta has addressed in his book. The book begins very interestingly, by minutely combing through India’s history, which begins as being one of the richest Asian kingdoms. The author regales us with stories of grandeur, moving towards today, as he analyses the various political and economic policies that led to the democratization of luxury. Wealth has today moved from the treasuries of Maharajas to the bank accounts of entrepreneurs and skilled executives. A decade-by-decade analysis helps the reader to seamlessly traverse through the changes in India’s consciousness.
The book then moves towards a category-by-category status report, talking about existing brands, their entry, exits (if any) and successes. Mr. Gupta gives emphasis on the success stories of Indian luxury brands as well. Consumer trends today have been discussed in detail as the author defines the various types of consumer and their psyche. Adding to the millennials and Gen Z, the book has mentioned the next generation as well – Generation Alpha (those born between 2013 to 2025) – a magnificent name for the tiny tots!
Impact of recent phenomena such as demonetization, implementation of GST and high import duties have also been explained. These major economic changes did shift the seismic plates beneath the luxury industry, which have been thoroughly examined in the book.
Trends in luxury such as consolidation, sustainability, street fashion, micro influencers, etc. (most of which still hold true in a post-COVID era), have been covered in the volume. But then understanding the trends won’t help till barriers to luxury are conquered. Mr. Gupta explores problem areas, such as regulations, FDI and counterfeits, in detail as well.
It is towards the end that the author gives a potential success formula which luxury brands can adopt to capture the highly elusive, complex Indian consumer. Called the 5Cs model, this theory could help all those international luxury brands make inroads into this ancient civilization, which may be traditional at heart, but trend- and technology-savvy in mind.
While understanding the luxury industry comes naturally to Mr. Gupta, authorship is something he trained himself for – as he mentioned in his interview. And that shines through this much-required, simple to understand book. A glamourous cover leads onto a holistic journey through the Indian luxury industry. The paperback and hardcover editions are yet to be launched, but the Kindle edition of the book is currently available. The book can also be pre-booked at the author’s website.
And as a quick reaction to our current situation, the author, after combining first-hand research and surveys, is also offering an e-book – ‘Corona Virus and its Impact on Indian Luxury’. Along with the rest, this particular e-book is worth a high price. Because navigating through the current scenario will take every ounce of intelligence and strength that the industry can muster together.