The Indian luxury story is being scripted amid a resurgence in the global luxury goods industry. Euromonitor data shows a value gain of 3 percent over 2012, and India is one of five countries with rapidly growing populations that provide the greatest opportunities for businesses and brands offering luxury goods and services (the others being Indonesia, Malaysia, Brazil, and Mexico).
Luxury brands that will enjoy the greatest success in India this coming year are those that employ three strategies: segmenting consumers, using experience-enhancing technology, and exploiting social media to connect with customers.
1. Consumer segmentation
While the moneyed class in India has always had access to luxury brands, economic growth has created a diverse new generation of consumers: senior corporate executives, young people working in business-process outsourcing who live with their parents and splurge all their earnings, successful entrepreneurs, and farmers who have sold their land to developers.
The word “luxury” has different shades of meaning for each segment. Is luxury about the highest-quality goods produced by excellent craftsmanship, affordable to only a few? Is it about spending the most you can to acquire a possession, or is it the ability to indulge in time, silence, and space? Is it a badge to signal status, or a quest for something more personally meaningful? No single definition seems to encompass this broad field, with luxury meaning different things to different people.
A recent report by IMRB International and the Confederation of Indian Industry offers a psychographic classification of luxury consumers—experientialists, connoisseurs, aesthetes, and flaunters—which would help marketers to apply a segmented approach, sharpen their brand strategies, and improve their odds of success.1
2. Experience-enhancing tech
Luxury brands used to be reluctant to embrace technology simply because they feared they wouldn’t be able to create virtual experiences that matched the brick-and-mortar ones. Today, advances in technology and design make it possible to craft online brand experiences that may even be superior to the offline ones.
A report by Fidelity Investments suggests 85 percent of millionaires use or are willing to use text messaging, smartphone applications, and social media.2 Imagine the level of consumer engagement possible for luxury brands through smartphone and tablet apps and QR codes.
Mobile marketing is particularly effective with time-starved, on-the-move consumers who are too busy to visit stores. This is even truer for those who live in tier-2 and tier-3 cities where favorite luxury brands may not have physical stores. We will see more luxury brands use digital screens, tablet devices, and other relevant technology to enhance the retail experience.
3. Social media
Given the margin pressure facing luxury brands in India, social media marketing will become an increasingly important way to connect with consumers and increase loyalty, especially with the burgeoning youth segment. Globally, Burberry has shown how effective social media campaigns have the power to turn around the sagging fortunes of a brand.
Luxury brands in India, too, will be looking to revitalize digital strategies to connect with this new generation of tech-savvy consumers. Over 65 percent of India’s population is under the age of 35. Given the extreme social lives this segment leads, brands will be looking to refine their social media strategies. If luxury brands tap into these strategies, they might collectively give the market the liftoff it so badly needs.
- Hemali Chhapia, “Emergence of ‘closet consumers’ in Indian luxury market: CII,” the Times of India (11 November 2013), timesofindia.indiatimes.com/business/india-business/Emergence-of-closet-consumers-in-Indian-luxury-market-CII/articleshow/25591878.cms.
- Jessica Toonkel, “Think your millionaire clients aren’t e-media savvy? Think again,” Investment News (16 June 2011), investmentnews.com/article/20110616/FREE/110619955.
This article was first published as “Segmentation, tech key to success in luxury marketing” in the Economic Times (25 December 2013). economictimes.indiatimes.com
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