When DLF Emporio made secluded Nelson Mandela Road its home in 2008, skeptics wondered if this was the right time to have a mall entirely dedicated to luxury. It was later that year the capital hosted two-day International Herald Tribune luxury conference where the brightest from the luxury business converged and deliberated over India’s emerging luxury market status. Since then and now, a lot has changed and luxury brands are eyeing Indian consumers who are “maturing” slowly.
While luxury apparel brands have found a resonance among Indian consumers, the market for luxury watches, though not exponential, is growing at a gradual speed. And the investors are hopeful that the winds of change will blow in their favour.
“It is a matter of time,” Amit Chaloo, general manager, LVMH watch and jewellery India, tells Metrolife. “The growth is slow because the market is diverse and segmented. Indians in terms of decision making are slow.”
It was in the early 90s that India first opened the trade for overseas business opportunities and allowed international brands to enter Indian market. But the “call centre or IT boom” in early 2000 witnessed the resurgence of Indian middle class that reaped maximum benefits from the outsourcing business, paving way to the mall culture.
One of Delhi’s prominent retailers, Kapoor Watch Company (KWC), has been an eye-witness to this changing fate of the luxury watch market. Established since 1967, they were operating from one shop till 2002, but now have eight stores in the NCR region at strategic locations.
“We have different kind of stores at different places. We opened our second store inside a mall in 2002 which had an assortment of watches targeted at fashion conscious people,” Pratiek Kapoor, market and new development, KWC, tells Metrolife.
“The MNC culture in Gurgaon developed exponentially, income increased and there was massive development – all this changed the dynamics of luxury watch market. Also it is important to understand the consumers and open a store based on the income group,” he says, adding their store in Ambience Mall is for high-end consumers and the average price point is up to Rs seven lakh.
The fact that Indian consumers are price conscious and not value driven is acting as a deterrent to the luxury business.
“The sense of rewarding oneself is missing among Indian consumers. A watch tells a lot about who you are, but this attitude of saving for a watch is missing,” says Chaloo.
However Kapoor has a different outlook towards fragmented Indian market. “Compared to western countries where there are more nuclear families, we are a different country and have different demographics. Here the culture of saving for future, marriages and children is extremely important,” he says.
“So splurging on luxury items like watches depends on the salary and income of the family. The aspirations of each family are different and to spend on a luxury watch depends on a lot of factors,” he adds.