18 April 2008

Indian luxury : a brand idea whose time has come. Shaziya Khan, JWT Planning, Mumbai

“Beauty is the purgation of superfluities”
This is an old quote, attributed to the great Michelangelo.
But its spirit felt alive & fresh, at a recent conclave of luxury honchos in India recently. If one could sum up the singular hook that stuck in the mind - India is in the luxury state of mind, again. Give or take a few centuries, its long running royal patronage of all things fine and beautiful is coming keenly alive among the mass affluent and emerging rich of today.
And that luxury state of mind means to get rid of superfluities.
Sign 1: First things first, majority ownership has been allowed by law to foreign brands being welcomed to the great Indian beauty bazaar of things fine and fey. And the companies are cueing up at India gate. Salvatore Ferragamo, Hermes, Savile Row brands, Chanel, Ballantyne to mention a few.A small but telling gesture was the presence of both the French trade minister (3 weeks before elections in France, no less!) and the Indian trade minister at a luxury seminar. But their presence went beyond the powerfully symbolic to embrace the powerfully productive as well – for instance, each went on to openly discuss & welcome suggestions on a mutually beneficial way of doing away with countervailing duties that aids the entry luxury brands entry and yet prevents dumping by cheaper brands.
Sign 2: Secondly, luxury demands a beautifully luxe environment and in this matter too, Indian retail and business interests are stepping forward. They plan to create specialist luxury malls that will provide the appropriate brand neighbourhood and gilt edged physical ambience. As many a luxury honcho put it – the right retail environment is vital – to communicates the brand, not just to make the sale. Rarified iconic hotel environs like those of the Taj Mahal or Oberoi have housed the luxury brand pioneers from oversees such as LVMH; But are too small to take in the dozen odd more brands keen to enter. The demands in terms of marble, granite,fit, feel,finish, DETAIL are going to be hard to meet but the will to do away with second best and B++ is there. No matter if it takes months and millions – the Gucci store blue print from Paris will be adhered to inch by inch when it opens its Mumbai branch. Luxury retailing it is a game of gilt edged inches and it has begun. Watch out for luxury malls and exclusive luxury retail outlets. Where only the thinnest stilettos will tread in soft and but undeniable clicks …
Sign 3 : Aah but the greatest superfluity of them all – is being done away with. Why adhere to a foreign definition of luxury? Academics, designers, luxury CEOs are asking a new (Indian) luxury question. Indians are being asked to introspect and ask themselves what is the definition of Indian luxury? As distinct from French luxury or Italian luxury or British luxury; Each of these has a certain distinct appeal.
What is distinct about Indian luxury is the question of the moment. In other words, What is India’s brand of luxury? Here is a smattering of answers suggested by global luxury experts:
• The long running royal patronage of luxury. From Chanel to Cartier and the 360 circle of brands in between practically all evidenced familiarity with Indian tastes and the Indian clientele’s eye for luxury over a few hundred years.
• Craftsmanship is another. More than one world famous designer said he visits India often and is inspired by its quality of craftsmanship – in saddles, in weaving, in embroidery etc. A particularly enthusiastic one in typical ‘from the heart ‘ designer speak even proferred a spontaneous definition of Indian luxury. Pigeon English. But its says something “the Indian hand is the greatest”.
•“Made in India” as a label. “The world of luxury has no problem with the label made in India” – French designer, to quote a common sentiment. It has been revered a long time. And a source of inspiration too.
• Colour of luxury, here is one from me. The Indian luxury brand can be rooted in colour – literally and metaphorically. Literally - India is all about colour. As some one said ‘Pink is India’s navy blue’ and you see that in palaces, jewellery, rich textiles. Metaphorically “colour” ie. colour in quotes is the spirit , energy, fusion of India. And at both levels colour is a draw and a discriminator for India vis a vis the world. For instance, Hermes sent a team of global designers to visit India. Their brief ‘get the smell and colours of India and be inspired’. They visited the calico museum in Ahmedabad, tourist sites, Benares and went back marvelously inspired with indigo and fuschia on their mind.
And there could be more. At this point, what matters is not which is the final cut of the brand. What matters is that the “great Indian brand of luxury” is being sought. The royal tradition of Indian luxury; or the beautiful hand of India, or simply Made in India or colour of luxury… Marketers, designers, bureaucrats and ministers are you thinking big enough to make the “great Indian brand of luxury” come into its own? Again or anew? Anything less is a superfluity.
This post first appeared as an article in Admap

Luxury marketing in India: ‘because I’m worth it’. Shaziya Khan, JWT Planning, Mumbai

Glyn Atwal, ESC Rennes School of Business, and Shaziya Khan, JWT Mumbai, examine how luxury brands can best maximise the Indian luxury rupee.
PARADISE FOR ANYBODY wanting to stay en vogue is the shopping arcade at the Taj Mahal Palace and Towers Hotel in Mumbai. Being at the cutting edge of fashion comes at a price – whether in London, Paris or Mumbai.
According to Ledbury Research, the global luxury goods market in 2006 was worth £75 billion, with annual sales growth in double figures. India has been identified as an important source of this growth and is likely to growth at an annual rate of 28% in the next three years.
Market luxurification
The accelerating pace of economic and social change is transforming the Indian luxury landscape. The so-called luxurification of society is a phenomenon that can be attributed to the following dynamics.
New affluence: The booming economy
According to the McKinsey Global Institute, consumers earning more than 1,000,000 rupees a year will total 24 million by 2025 – larger than China’s comparable segment. It is however the emergence of ‘mass affluence’ combined with aspirational mindsets and lifestyles that are helping to stimulate consumer demand. The rapid growth of the Indian middle class means that a larger number of consumers are able to afford luxury goods than ever before.
Media exposure: Luxury is now mainstream
The media-cultural phenomenon is however, not restricted to the pages of glossy magazines. Mainstream media are taking a greater interest in luxury brands, fashion trends and consumer lifestyles. Weekend supplements in national newspapers devote pages to fashion features and product reviews. Increased product knowledge and brand awareness are translating into greater consumer confidence – an important catalyst for luxury consumption in a fast-emerging market.
Luxury accessibility: The world at your doorstep
Luxury brands are now following the Indian consumer, expanding their sales operations not only in Delhi and Mumbai, but to smaller cities or metrocities such as Pune and Hyderabad. Luxury boutiques which were traditionally confined to the secure but often inaccessible surroundings of exclusive hotels have been thrown open to the masses thanks to the shopping mall boom.
Market regulation
Although high import duties on luxury goods continue to prevail, India’s policy of liberalisation and deregulation has improved its image as an attractive destination for foreign investment.
The changing face of the Indian luxury consumer
The luxury market has traditionally been segmented according to two very separate and distinct customer groups – namely the ‘affluents’ and the ‘non-affluents’. The transition towards a consumer society has changed the profile of the luxury consumer. Luxury is no longer reserved for the English-speaking elite. Priyanka,a BPO employee, loves shopping, worships brands and is typical of a new generation of luxury consumers – the ‘because I’m worth it’ generation.
Today’s luxury shopper could be a broker, an entrepreneur, an IT specialist or a student.
Maximising the Indian luxury rupee
Beyond exclusivity
Beyond status
Beyond westernisation
Burberry meets Bollywood
The following seven guidelines set out to guide high-end brands to capture India’s growing fascination with luxury consumption.
1. Respect.
Connect with luxury consumers as a selective target. Luxury brands need to respect this point of difference in all interactions between the brand and the consumer.
2. Segment. Acknowledge luxury consumer subsets. Luxury brands need to identify, differentiate and prioritise the most profitable subsets for targeted strategies.
3. Insight. Identify what is important to the defined target. Motivations could be based on personal and non-personal factors.
4. Connect. Assess which brand interactions really matter. For example, respondents cited that friends and family are an important influence on luxury consumption.
5. Experience. Establish emotional connectivity. Deep and meaningful relationships need to be developed in order to win the ‘soul’ of the luxury consumer.
6. Indianness. Embrace and celebrate the ‘Indianness’ brand. India has a very powerful and unique identity, and this needs to be leveraged within a luxury brand context.
7. Consistency. Adopt a truly holistic approach, to ensure that all brand interactions, whether advertising or customer service, are consistent with the brand positioning. Jitnee Lambi Chadar ho Utna hee pair failana Chahiye is an Indian proverb that means ‘limit your spending to your earnings’.
Contemporary Indian society is challenging traditional consumption patterns. The Indian consumer is ready to embrace luxury consumption. Is the international luxury industry ready to unlock the market potential?
NB: The authors would like to stress that the term ‘affluent masses’ should be interpreted broadly within the context of the emerging
middle classes. This paper was also presented jointly by the authors at the Asia Brand Congress held in September 2007 in Mumbai,India.
1. M Silverstein and N Fiske: Trading Up: The New American Luxury. Penguin Group: New York, 2003. 2. S J Vickers and F Renand: The Marketing of Luxury Goods: An Exploratory Study – Three Conceptual Dimensions. The Marketing Review, 3 (4), 2003.

The 8 P’s of Luxury Branding: Rohit Arora, JWT Planning, Mumbai

In the luxury conference held few months ago, our Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath pointed out that luxury brands need to adopt an India-specific policy. So while the international luxury brands are building their momentum of their presence in the country, the challenge lies with Indian luxury brands – how do they adapt effectively, swiftly and more importantly meaningfully.
We have the zooming capital market, booming business sectors, stronger GDP growth, the rising affluence and consumer optimism, a more hedonistic consumer society with the spending mindset further fueled by emerging retail landscape. So, there’s money to spend, willingness with optimism, space that’s evolving a benchmark of premiumness & luxury. The challenge is to be relevant, today and tomorrow.
This article focuses on the 8 P’s that are employed in the luxury branding mix. The degree of significance of these factors may vary, but more often that not, it is the interplay amid these 8 P’s that makes a luxury brand.
Performance: Refers to the delivery of superior experience of a luxury brand at two levels – product level & experiential level. At a product level, it must satisfy the functional and utilitarian characteristic as well as deliver on its practical physical attributes – a recipe of quality or design excellence ingredients like creativity, exclusivity, craftsmanship, precision, materials, high quality & innovation. The luxury brand must perform at the experiential level as well; that is the emotional value of the luxury brand the consumers buy . Luxury isn’t just about the ‘thing’ anymore; it is about the special experience people feel in buying and using or enjoying that ‘thing’.
Paucity: Over revelation and distribution of luxury brand causes dilution of luxury character, hence many brands try to maintain the perception that the goods are scarce.
(Burberry diluted its brand image in the UK in the early 2000 by over-licensing its brand, thus reducing its image from a brand whose products were consumed only by the elite. Gucci, now largely sold in directly-owned stores, following a nearly crippling attempt to widely license their brand in the 1970s and 1980s).Broadly, there’s natural paucity (actual scarcity) & technology-driven paucity. Natural paucity is generally as a consequence of scarce ingredients (platinum, diamonds, etc.) and/or those goods that require exceptional human expertise (e.g. handcrafted quality) that constraint mass production. Technology-driven paucity is as a corollary of conception-time involved in continuous innovation and research-&-development process.
Beyond these brands employ promotional strategies like limited editions, special series, etc. Another deviation to this strategy is customization &/or individual craftsmanship of luxury good.
Persona: The persona of a luxury brand is largely a consequence of distinctive projection and coherence of the application.The visual brand identity captures the brand’s personality, mystique & emotional values in a nutshell. The distinct and consistent expression of the identity (by way of its logo, the color(s) association, the other design elements like icons, the uniquely identifiable ergonomics or branded environment, etc.) is central to establishing the visibility, familiarity & common identifiable brand imagery (E.g. the Louis Vuitton monogram & graphic symbols). While the brands visual identity is a fairly stable factor, advertising is the most dynamic marketing vehicle and hence is critical in developing aspirational context. At an overall level, luxury advertising messages can be observed:
§ As more emotional and sensual to distance it from mass-premium brands
§ Create a world and an aura that is truly exceptional to their brand signature
§ Generate major differentiation in its production and execution
§ Extremely selective and niche media
Public Relations (PR): PR in luxury branding plays an enormous role in image proliferation of the brand, thereby subtly influencing public opinion. It is also employed to convey other supporting messages and attributes of the brand which cannot be explicitly captured in advertising, but by no means are less important to create brand’s personality, mystique and emotional values. (e.g. Chanel organized a brand familarization trip to journalists with peek at the fashion house's main salon in Paris salon, inc. tour of Coco Chanel's private apartment)
It is also a sophisticated branding machine for maintaining ongoing relevance with the luxury consumer, especially so in fashion and seasonal trends driven categories. Generation of brand news, story angles, speaking points of inspirers (like what celeb’s speak or wear) and of influencers (like the designer speak) blended with innovative event concepts (like the fashion weeks, polo matches, themed previews) are utilized for tactical brand exposure made relevant to industry trends & culture.
Placement: The branded environment in luxury branding is all about heightening the customer’s experience and amplifying the aura of brand’s essence. Hence, the branded environment, the moment of truth, is where it must live the brand by staging immaculate detailing that engages all senses of the discerning luxury consumer. In India, for example most of the luxury brands have boutiques in 5-star hotels (Gucci’s boutiques are in Oberoi-Hilton, Mumbai & Imperial, Delhi. Likewise Louis Vuitton’s in Taj Mahal, Mumbai & Oberoi, Delhi)
The chain of touch-points consumer interacts & the impact of each touch-point is critical for creating an unique indulging experience.
Personal Touch: Luxury branding is largely about establishing and enhancing the ‘emotional connections’ with discerning luxury consumers. Beyond the typical sophisticated, over-the-top concierge services, exclusive invites, previews, the new age luxury consumers is seeking higher level of personalized, knowledgeable & professional assistance – trusted & reliable help for managing their lifestyles.Also, the escalating democratization of luxury & the constantly changing retail environment has made luxury consumers increasingly discriminating & demanding.
Pedigree: Many luxury brands have a rich pedigree and extraordinary history that become an inseparable part of the brand story. The mystique and the legend is generally built around the exceptional emotive founder character of past.So, when consumers buy Cartier or Dunhill, it is not merely because of the product performance or quality. They are buying a lineage of the legendary people and the evolution history behind these brands.
Public Figure: The role of public-figure or celebrities endorsement can be observed to be more skewed towards the aspiring & accessible luxury brands. That said, it would be improper to conclude that high-end luxury brands don’t bring into play the public figure factor; they are relatively less explicit & are largely PR-led (like accessorization, product placements with celebs/movies). Compared to other endorser types, public-figures achieve a relatively higher degree of attention and recall (e.g. Nicole Kidman for Chanel No. 5; Pierce Brosnan for Omega & SRK for Tag Heuer), thereby positively affecting consumer’s attitudes, brand value & purchase intention.
The 8 P’s provide a solid framework for luxury branding at a macro level.
§ Identify how well your brand performs within each of the 8 Ps
§ Analyze your competitors in relation to the 8 Ps as well
§ Hypothesize; validate the variations & degree of significance of 8 Ps to address the identified problems or opportunities.
This post first appeared as an article in The Hindustan Times
Nikola King & Paul McGowan: The DNA of Luxury article & compressed document
Giacalone, Joseph A: Market for luxury goods: the case of the comité colbert1

15 April 2008

Is India ready for the IPL? Shweta Bhatnagar, JWT Planning, Delhi

A lot has been said about cricket and its importance in India… but it can never be said enough. The one passion that unites the country, the one love that takes all of us on a roller coaster of emotions, the one religion that makes each Indian, as temporary as it maybe, come together in its beliefs. And where a national anthem before a movie, and sometimes even Independence Day, fail to raise the sense of patriotism one would like to see, cricket is able to bring it alive in almost all of us!
So one cannot deny that in a cricket fanatic country like ours, sports and politics definitely cross paths. The current debate on whether India should withdraw from the Beijing Olympics owing its stand on the Tibet issue is a prime example of this. And let’s face it! How many times have we seen political acrimony spill over during a Pakistan / India match? When Pakistan lost in the T20 world cup they had to go under cover with their families in their own nation. Whether this should, or should not be, is a separate question. But like it or not, the two are inseparable.

So lets take a quick glance at what’s happening in both these fields right now.
The latest on the block is IPL… a great new concept. The gods of our one common religion got bidden for. And the country watched in anticipation. It was a strange but mixed feeling. Put a price tag on Sachin? Who would have thought! But how does that affect me? What does affect me, however, is what will all this lead up to? A cricket match! And hey! That’s always welcomed isn’t it?
And then, lets see the recent mob violence the country saw. Mumbaikars against north Indians. A relatively newer definition of communalism that at least the current generation may not have seen before. We’ve seen religion against religion, a political party against the other, public against the government, terrorists against the public… but region against another region? Beyond just water / electricity disputes? Beyond the murmured stereotypes plaguing each state that may go around many corridors? They first time gathered enough momentum to be so loud as to gather a mob!
And herein lies my question. Isn’t IPL only going to fuel this further? We know pride doesn’t come in a bigger size than when it comes for one’s team. But unfortunately, this time its not for India. Its delhi vs. Mumbai vs. Hyderabad vs. Bangalore vs. ... the list will only increase.
Saurav Ganguly has always been known as the Bengal tiger, but did a non-bengali ever love him any less? How many of us, across the country would say they love Sachin because he is marathi, or because he’s done me and the nation proud, irrespective of where he’s from?
I do not say that IPL was designed to fuel this divide, but from the look of it, does it not seem axiomatic? In a sensitive nation like ours where one radio jockey’s lose comment can anger the whole north-east community, are we ready to handle IPL in a mature manner?
When the similar concept gained enough momentum in England in the late 70s-80s for football, the violence it led to cost many lives, places burnt down, and the emergence of a term called football hooliganism, where each team had a group of supporters ready to kill the others at each win and each loss. Can we really safely say we won’t face a similar situation with IPL gaining force?
As the British contemporary writer Alan Sillitoe once wrote "sport is a means of keeping the national spirit alive during a time of so-called peace. It prepares the national spirit for the eventuality of war".
I ask you to replace ‘national’ in that quote with ‘regional’ once… and tell me what picture you see… Can India handle the IPL :Feast for sport lovers or setting for regional rift
See Jitender Dabas' reply and continue the debate...Voice your views on our comments

07 April 2008

Wetting the sponge:Training the JWT way. Shaziya Khan JWT Planning, Mumbai reports

India is booming faster than a trained brain can follow so we need to train differently to solve faster. Our aim is to widen people's perceptions and fertilize ideas.
Every month a guest speaker is invited to talk to all JWTers on a curious topic. Like a sponge, each of us will absorb the material in our own way. Here is a glimpse of our exciting aqua experiences so far!

November 2007
Injector: Hormazd Sorabjee
Container: Autocar India
Water: the car market as a mirror of the economy
Absorption: Looking at which and how many cars are on the road is a good indication of the national economy’s health but also consumer’s behaviour. It appears that quality is not always the prime incentive, status is. However, we are more inclined to a uniform consumption rather than individualistic as 65% purchases are influenced by word of mouth.
On another note, the car market is a laughable example of foreign products lacking adaptation to the market’s specificities as luxury cars are designed to be driven, not chauffeured. The back suspensions are hard and there is no remote for the stereo, so where is the fun in that?

December 2007
Injector: Charlotte Cooper & Ashling O’Connor
Container: Reuters Mumbai, Times London
Water: the image of India from a western point of view

Absorption: India’s equity is building up everyday, distancing itself from China, the all time point of comparison. This being said, some worries remain in foreign investors minds: Will the widening wealth gap lead to social tensions? Also, while the economy grows fast, the education system does not follow. How will industries overcome the lack of qualified labour?

January 2008
Injector: Mahesh Bhatt
Container: Bollywood
Water: the right message for the right crowd
Absorption: Real India feels alienated. Gate keepers, whereas they are distributors or our clients, are not ready for changes whilst people are. The population cannot identify to the portrayed image. For instance, when poverty still exists in India, it does not in Indian media as the poor are party spoilers! The real world has no space in the dream world. Research only takes you so far. The bucket of water has all the properties of the stream of water except the key one. The bucket of water does not have the “flow”! So always be careful of research it often captures the capturable but not the “essence”. Standards – keep them high. There is such a thing as success backwards and failing forwards! i.e. Even though you momentarily appear to fail it is actually something very progressive. And sometimes even when you have market success, it might be a regressive idea

February 2008
Injector: Jim James
Container: Haymarket India
Water: Formula 1

Absorption: Formula 1 does not run on fuel but on advertising. It is the most watched sports even after the Olympics and the Football worldcup. It has a huge advantage over these two – while they happen once in four years, Formula 1 takes place 18 times a year! However much the sport seems to cost their sponsors, given the coverage they get, the returns are high. Infact, the recent sponsorhip by Vijay Mallya of Formula 1 got so much coverage they recovered their investment even before the car spun a wheel! This is why Marlboro still sponsors Ferrari despite the ban on cigarette advertisement in most countries, limiting their visual presence to the color code shared with Ferrari.

More mind blowing speakers to follow - soak it up!