Is India literally ‘Cheap’ or figuratively? CII- ET Luxury Summit digs the truth


At the Luxury Summit organized by The Confederation Of Indian Industries at Hotel Imperial, New Delhi on 19 November 2013, an industry study conducted by its knowledge partner, IMRB, disclosed that “India is home to the world’s 6th highest number of billionaires.” Revealing the reasons the report explained that the penchant for ‘luxury’ comes naturally to Indians- traced back to the regal days of the Mughals or today where majority of Indian household’s above the poverty line have appointed help in the house. Our princely habitude is anything but fading. And we are a population of 2 billion. But does this staggering number correspond to a thriving luxury industry in India?

Luxury and beggarly are two sides of the same coin. And the coin is our mindset. As chronic as our tryst with luxury may seem, the world knows that Indians in general are withheld by their innate need to be miserly. Besides this, issues from the past where a popular watch retail store in New Delhi was in the news for selling knock-offs at the cost of their original counterparts has tagged India as a ‘not so credible’ market. As pointed out in the discussion, VAT refunds are not issuable in the subcontinent which clearly discourages the inflow of international currency. Furthermore, a question raised by EE to panelist Manish Malhotra mulled on the subject that refusal for refunds and poor after-sales service in general is a problem faced by most Indian shoppers. Not only does this discourage impulsive shopping (which is primarily what the retail industry thrives on) but on the flipside also stops one from making an intelligent, calculated purchase while shopping for expensive merchandise. Although the designer tried hard to defend himself, it does not move away from the fact that Indians are given less flexibility to shop.

The summit, which is CII’s annual flagship event for the luxury sector, is surely a step in the right direction. Some of the previous speakers and participants include CEOs of Burberry, Jimmy Choo, Salvatore Ferragamo, Kenzo, Canali, Pomellato, Damiani, Ungaro, Giorgio Armani, Bottega Veneta, Audi, Ermenegildo Zegna amongst others. This year saw an attendance of close to 250 industry experts congregated to discuss the challenges faced by the industry and the requisite measures for atonement. The sessions included- Marrying Craft Culture Commerce: Celebrating Luxury Heritage; Real Estate for Real: Creating Luxury Destinations; The New Era of Luxury; Luxury An Economic Multiplier and; The Types of Luxury Consumers.

The panel of experts included Sanjay Kapoor MD at Genesis, Darshan Mehta CEO at Reliance Brands, Marco Bizzari CEO at Bottega Venetta, Designer Raghavendra Rathore, Stefano Canali GM at Canali, Andrea Bonardi President Italian Chamber of Commerce, Designer Manish Malhotra and Actress Sonakshi Sinha among others.

The sponsors at the event were BMW, Homestead, IMRB, DLF Emporio, Baron Eagle and Luxury Connect Business School.

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