Digital & luxury in India: a big chance for “Made in Italy” brands
Emerging countries currently represent the most important markets for Made in Italy, one of the finest and most appreciated brands in the world, particularly for its luxury goods. In fact, it is the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) consumers who will constitute the biggest part of the global luxury market in the future.
This is the second of a series of posts to discuss how Italian luxury brands are approaching digital marketing in China, India, Russia and Brazil.
Luxury and the Indian culture
The Indian market is among the most interesting ones for luxury brands because of the development it could reach in the next years. The income and consumption growth has made the country ready for high-end goods: in fact, there are 700.000 millionaires, assuming that from 2006 to 2012 HNWI (High Net Worth Individuals) and UHNWI’s (Ultra High Net Worth Individuals) number has increased by 480% (source: Worldwide Luxury Markets Monitor, Bain & Company, 2013).
This market is different than other emerging countries, because it is more incisively diversified. Indian consumers seem to be more refined and oriented to the value than the Chinese or Russian ones, because their culture – based on simplicity and on the rejection of excess and of the useless – deeply permeates every Indian economic category, now in contradiction in combining those spiritual values with the growing desire to show their status upgrade with the purchase of luxury goods.
In order to meet the needs of those consumers, the good must present different characteristics: they have to be far from the bling effect, avoiding to flunt the logo and combining in it utility and durability.
Indian luxury tradition is based on the importance of raw material and on the authenticity of hand-made precious goods, reflecting the artisanal tradition of the territory. Therefore, it’s important in made in Italy’s goods communication to valorise the care for details, the choice of the components and the quality of the productive process, besides to integrate “Indianity” in the good and in services, because Indian customers have a deep aesthetic sense and they want then to taste the experience of purchasing an international brand, without losing local values, and creating this way a brand new luxury identity, based on Eastern and Western influences.
Another very important issue to consider for luxury brands is the brand perception. The aim is to become appealing to young population of India. Most of them still not have the power to buy expensive items, which means that this segment is predominantly composed by aspirational consumers. Yet it’s very important today to start communicating to that target the right way, and not make them feel afraid of getting in touch with high-end brands.
As reported on The Economic Times:
In terms of defining a middle-class consumer on the basis of income, there is a vast gap between other developed markets and India. Today luxury brands are willing to compromise in terms of price points and positioning to woo the new rich emerging from India’s middle class.
The strategic positioning of brands such as Burberry, Chanel and Moët & Chandon is a clear sign of the direction that should be taken: they are opening high-end stores in popular malls and offering products with a more accessible price, yet still maintaining the “exclusive” touch of the brand.
Especially in this specific moment, the merge between online and offline is today crucial. A good example comes from Burberry, which is among the first global fashion brands to have implemented a full section of the website dedicated to the Indian market (in.burberry.com) integrating online shopping and physical distribution of products.
The online boom in India
India is the fastest-growing emerging on the Web, and with some peculiar characteristics: in 2013 only 12% of the population had access to the Internet, and 78% of Internet accesses was by mobile devices (source: comScore, 2013), making India the very first online market truly based on mobile.
And numbers are still growing, as Facebook just hit 100 million Indian users, and over the course of 2014 mobile Internet users in the country are expected to be 155 million.
Indian e-commerce is consequently the fastest growing between BRIC countries, as India is expected to surpass the online sales of Russia and Brazil by 2016 (source: L2 Think Tank, 2013).
For what concerns the promotion of fashion brands, digital is definitely the place to be. This works for both worldwide-known brands and local stylists. Blogs like High Heel Confidential and Miss Malini are talking about the style of Bollywood celebrities, and are followed by hundreds of thousands of young fashion enthusiasts all across India.
As reported on India Today:
The online world of fashion can no longer be ignored. Popular fashion blogs sustain themselves by identifying what celebrities wear; online fashion portals carry pictures of celebrities in outfits and identify, stock, retail and promote the very same outfit which results in majority of their sales; celebrity stylists promote young labels and major brands via their social media handles on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. These digital names/portals have a huge outreach and the fact that the masses choose to emulate and take a cue from them means this segment can no longer be overlooked.
Made in Italy brands: a missed opportunity?
If we look at the Facebook fan base of three of the major Italian luxury brands, we will quickly understand the fast rising importance of the Indian audience in the fashion industry, as India always pops up among the largest fan bases, with hundreds of thousands of fans (data found on Socialbakers):
Between the most sought after brands in India we find Prada in the first place, and Armani in the third one (source: L2 Think Tank, 2013) but very few of them offer contents personalised on local basis on their websites and social networks.
E-commerce and digital communication are in fact mostly ignored by Italian luxury brands in India, that are still just relying on communication in English language on their international Facebook page. Also, very few brands have established e-commerce sections dedicated to the Indian market.
All these data should be definitely taken into serious consideration. Made in Italy brands need to better understand the peculiarities of the Indian audience, and implement a tailored communication on digital platforms, from social media to e-commerce platforms.