Why are Luxury Brands Gravitating Towards Indian Celebrities as their Global Brand Ambassadors?

As international luxury brands continue to lap up Indian A-listers as their brand ambassadors, we dissect what is happening, and why.

By: Abhay Gupta, Founder & CEO, Luxury Connect & Luxury Connect Business School
From RRR winning an Oscar for Naatu Naatu at the 95th Academy Awards to the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi being welcomed to the White House for a state visit in June, India and Indians have been the center of every important global occasion. The country recently surpassed China to become the most populous country on Earth. Today, no major global challenge, from climate change to advances in technology, to the Ukraine war, can be addressed without India’s buy-in. Likewise, no global mega event is complete without India and Indians. From Cannes to Met Gala, Indian celebrities are ruling the roost.
No wonder that luxury brands are shaking hands with Indian celebrities.

Priyanka Chopra Bvlgari

Priyanka Chopra Jonas wearing the Bvlgari Blu Laguna Diamond necklace at MET Gala 2023, which was eventually auctioned by Sotheby's for approx $25 million.

"While working hard to maintain its traditional appeal, we have worked closely with our team in India and Priyanka Chopra Jonas to ensure that it is resonates with the lifestyles of the modern bride today... 

1. Bvlgari: In August 2021, Bvlgari appointed Priyanka Chopra Jones as their global brand ambassador. Jean-Christophe Babin, Bvlgari’s CEO, said, "India holds a special place in our hearts at Bvlgari, since it doesn’t only offer us a continuous source of inspiration, but this rich, incredible land provides us with some of the most precious gems of nature to craft our creations, from jewellery to fragrances. I’m beyond excited that Priyanka is joining our family. I’m sure that together we will develop exciting projects, with a significant social impact."
Soon after, in September 2021, the Roman jewellery brand launched its first ever India inspired exclusive statement piece: ‘The Bulgari Mangalsutra’. Speaking on the occasion, Mauro Di Roberto, Managing Director - Jewelry Business Unit at Bulgari, said, “Since we re-entered into India in 2014, we have been even more intrigued by the cultural traditions of India and inherent role of jewelry. It took us several years to design our interpretation of the Mangalsutra for the modern Indian woman, for whom this piece is often one of the most important pieces of jewelry she wears. While working hard to maintain its traditional appeal, we have worked closely with our team in India and Priyanka Chopra Jonas to ensure that it is resonates with the lifestyles of the modern bride today - that she can wear from morning to night, every day and everywhere, pairing it with ease with Indian as well as  western wear.”

The brand’s 2022 docu-film, Inside the Dream, shows the important role that India plays in their sourcing and production, while also featuring Ms. Jonas in a key role.

2. Louis Vuitton: For the pre fall 2020 campaign, Deepika Padukone became the first Bollywood actor to star in the Louis Vuitton global campaign, bringing the Indian face an inch closer to global posters. She was amongst other celebrated and known faces of Louis Vuitton like Sophie Turner, Léa Seydoux, Alicia Vikander, Chloë Grace Moretz and more.

Deepika Padukone Louis Vuitton Cartier
Deepika Padukone in a Louis Vuitton gown and Cartier jewels at the Academy Awards 2023.  

Soon after in May 2022, she was elevated as the first Indian ever to have been appointed as the Louis Vuitton House Ambassador. As the brand announced the prolific Bollywood actor as its House Ambassador, the designer and muse relationship fused beyond just campaigns and ramp walks into a more cohesive relationship. 
3. Cartier: The house of creativity and timelessness, Cartier also unveiled Deepika Padukone as their newest ambassador in October 2022. Arnaud Carrez, Cartier’s Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, announced, “We are delighted to welcome Deepika Padukone to our community of extraordinary talents. As an inspiring actress and committed philanthropist, Deepika embodies the Maison’s spirit and values of celebrating creativity, universality and open-mindedness.” 

4. Christian Dior: On March 31, 2023, Dior decamped from Paris to Mumbai where Maria Grazia Chiuri presented the house's pre-fall 2023 collection against the historic backdrop of the Gateway to India. Ms. Chiuri made her boldest step yet staging her Fall 2023 show in Mumbai, as a “creative dialogue” between Dior and Chanakya. Amid an art installation created by Chanakya and its School of Crafts, Ms. Chiuri showed one of her most embroidery-dense collections to date, rich with silks and jewel tones and shown in an achingly pretty progression of colour and texture. She also underscored that Dior’s relationship with India predates her 2016 arrival at the brand. Marc Bohan, who was Dior’s artistic director from 1960 to 1989, travelled to Mumbai and Delhi in the early 1960s and created a number of pieces for Indian customers. Many of the looks in the collection Ms. Chiuri showed were updates of those original Bohan designs.

Ranveer Singh Tiffany Co

Ranveer Singh in a campaign for Tiffany & Co.

5. Tiffany & Co.: Come end April 2023, Ranveer Singh attended the unveiling of Tiffany & Co.'s newly redesigned New York City Landmark. Associated with Tiffany as ‘Friend of the House’, Mr. Ranveer, the only Indian in attendance, walked the red carpet wearing designs like the dazzling Schlumberger bird on a rock, Tiffany T bracelets and rings, and Tiffany HardWear Wrap Necklace amongst others. He celebrated the occasion alongside key brand guests such as Jimin from BTS, Gal Gadot, Hailey Bieber, Florence Pugh, Anaya Taylor Joy, Blake Lively, Michael B Jordan, and Zoey Kravitz. 

The actor is also a brand ambassador for watch brand Franck Muller since 2019
6. Estee Lauder: In May 2023, Estee Lauder named Bollywood actor and former Miss World, Manushi Chhillar as its global brand ambassador. With this appointment, the actor joined Estée Lauder’s roster of global ambassadors that include Imaan Hammam, Adut Akech, Ana de Armas, Amanda Gorman, Bianca Brandolini D’Adda, Carolyn Murphy, Grace Elizabeth, Karlie Kloss, Kōki, and Yang Mi. Commenting on the appointment, Justin Boxford, global brand president of Estée Lauder, said, “We are thrilled to welcome Manushi to the Estée Lauder family. In addition to her rising star power, Manushi’s dedicated use of her platform to bring about positive social change in India and beyond will enable us to continue to reinforce our brand’s commitment to championing women’s advancement around the world.”

7. Gucci: On the heels of the above association came another exciting announcement of Alia Bhatt as Gucci’s first global ambassador from India. Following her successful debut at the Met Gala— the most gated fashion event of the year, Ms. Bhatt was perhaps the obvious choice for an expansion in the fashion space. She joins the ranks of global ambassadors at Gucci such as Dakota Johnson, Hanni from the Kpop group New Jeans and Harry Styles. 
Although this is not the first time that Indian celebrities have represented global brands – think Shahrukh Khan for Tag Heuer and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan for Longines - the scale of the game has certainly risen. 

So what's driving this new found attraction towards Indian celebrities?

· Popularity and Influence: Indian celebrities enjoy immense popularity and have a significant fan following, both in India and globally. They have a strong influence on consumer preferences and trends, making them valuable assets for luxury brands looking to connect with their target audience.

By associating with Indian celebrities, luxury brands can tap into the cultural nuances and preferences of Indian consumers, creating a stronger connection with the local audience.

Manushi Chillar Estee Lauder

Manushi Chhillar in a campaign for Estee Lauder.

· Brand Visibility and Recall: Partnering with well-known Indian celebrities helps luxury brands gain visibility and enhance their brand recall in the Indian market. These celebrities often have a wide reach through various media platforms, including television, movies, social media, and endorsements. Their association with a luxury brand can create a positive perception and generate interest among consumers. 

· Cultural Relevance: Indian celebrities bring cultural relevance to luxury brands, especially when they align with the brand's values, aesthetics, or target market. By associating with Indian celebrities, luxury brands can tap into the cultural nuances and preferences of Indian consumers, creating a stronger connection with the local audience.

·  Aspirational Appeal: Luxury brands often aim to evoke a sense of aspiration and desire among consumers. Indian celebrities, with their glamorous lifestyles and successful careers, embody this aspirational appeal. Their association with luxury brands can help create a perception of exclusivity, desirability, and success, enticing consumers to engage with the brand.

·  Market Penetration: India is a vast and diverse market, and celebrities can play a crucial role in helping luxury brands penetrate different regions and target specific consumer segments. Indian celebrities often have a strong regional and demographic appeal, allowing luxury brands to expand their reach and tap into new markets within India.

·  Global Appeal: Many Indian celebrities have gained international recognition through their work in the entertainment industry. Luxury brands see the value in partnering with these celebrities to leverage their global appeal and reach a broader audience beyond India. This strategy helps luxury brands establish a stronger presence in international markets.

The power of India

The world economic outlook report by the International Monetary Fund projected that despite facing considerable challenges and headwinds such as financial sector turmoil, inflationary pressures, Russia – Ukraine war, and the persistent impact of covid 19 over the past three years, India remains the fastest growing economy in the world. 

Further, India, currently a $3.75T economy, the fifth largest in the world continues to maintain its pace of rapid growth. A report by EY projects India to become a US$26 trillion economy by 2047 with a six-fold increase in per capita income to US$15,000.

...as per a report by Bain & Co, India’s consumer market represents an opportunity worth $6T by 2030

Alia Bhatt Gucci ambassador

Alia Bhatt (extreme right) seated along with other brand ambasadors at Gucci's Cruise 2024 presentation in Seoul.

And as per a report by Bain & Co, India’s consumer market represents an opportunity worth $6T by 2030. It is estimated that India’s total consumption expenditure will grow by a factor of four, from $1.5 trillion in 2018 to $5.7-6 trillion by 2030. This impending explosion of opportunity is fascinating, not just for the size of the prize at which it hints, but for the changing complexion of the consumer.

TIME magazine’s May 2023 issue, where Deepika Padukone featured on the cover, mentioned that as per Business of Fashion, the Bollywood star accounted for seven of Louis Vuitton’s top 10 Instagram posts, generating more than 25% of the brand’s $20.2 million in media impact value during the Cannes Film Festival, according to data analytics and marketing agency Launchmetrics.
It is safe to say, this is just the start. The love for Indian celebrities might just continue to rise.

Abhay GuptaAbhay Gupta, a certified Marshall Goldsmith coach, is the founder, promoter and CEO of Luxury Connect (a boutique consulting organization) and Luxury Connect Business School (LCBS). Author of The Incredible Indian Luxury Bazaar, he has helped establish luxury brands like Versace, Versace Home, Versace Collection, Corneliani, Arredo Classic, etc in India. Luxury publication Blackbook recognizes him as one of the ‘Top 100 Indian Luxury’s Most Influential’. He is also a recipient of the ‘Luxury Retail Icon 2012’ title by Asia Retail Congress. Having being featured in Forbes Luxury Trend Report 2012 as one of the industry leaders, he has also been widely recognized as a luxury expert by many media organisations. Fondazione Altagama has also recognized his contribution to the growth of Italian luxury industry by his pioneering efforts in India.

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