Brands define a product. When one says that he/she owns a pair of shoes and when the same person says that he/she owns a pair of Nike shoes, it makes a lot of difference. This difference lies in the way a consumer perceives a brand. A brand that is ubiquitous, low-priced and easily available does not evoke an awestruck reaction than a brand that is not easily accessible to everyone. Another example can be that of an automobile freak, who while walking down the street, will not think twice about a Maruti Suzuki 800 standing at the corner, but replacing it with the latest Audi will assure admiration. A luxury brand hence can be said to be a brand that even though commands that response from everyone, is meant for the select few. How a luxury brand creates an impact on the Indian consumers is a question that is relevant now that the face of the Indian consumer is changing. There are a number of reasons why India is a promising target for a luxury brand.
Since liberalization, privatization and the advent of technology during the early 1990s, there has been a huge difference in the way an Indian consumer thinks. Two very important factors here are that there is an easy access to information and communication with the western counterparts.
People in India are now more aware about the brands that are available to them. For luxury brands, this is important, as it there isn’t a direct mass advertising campaign associated with it. There is no Louis Vuitton advertisement playing between soaps or a Prada billboard hanging at the crossroads. However, the targeted consumer is very well aware of what the two brands are and what they are worth. Inter-net has played an important role in creating awareness. Blogs, reviews, websites etc. are readily available to gain an insight about the latest brands. Internet facility is present everywhere, especially to those who are the luxury brand targets. Access to information leads to building aspiration for a particular brand. The desire of an affluent consumer, to own something that no one has, is turned to reality when the consumer is aware about the presence of the brand in the market.
Communication too is vital here, as consumer depends on personal experiences and reviews before buying a brand. As mentioned before, there is no mass advertising for a luxury brand; hence word-of-mouth plays a very important role in building up the image of a luxury brand. And now due to the lessening of distances between India and the West, Indians can very well get influenced by what is being used by their western counterparts. Owning a luxury brand is a status symbol, and if there is someone, especially from the west, who has been continuously using that brand and backing it, it encourages them to go ahead and make a purchase. The buying decision of a consumer is influenced by those who have already used the brand, especially when he/she is willing to go that extra mile to pay for it.
Pricing is another feature that has an impact whether to brand a brand as luxury. Luxury brands are not for everyone. There maybe consumers who aspire to own a luxury brand but there are only a few who can purchase it. The fact that people are awed by someone who wears a Rolex more than a person wearing a Timex is because not everyone can buy the former. Indian consumers are termed as one of the most price sensitive consumers in the world. However, due to the increase in income, the purchasing power is on the rise. This leads to an increase in the disposable income of an average Indian consumer. But it is not just the disposable income which induces a consumer to go for a luxury brand. With the purchasing power, aspiration too is vital. Over 65% of the 1.18 billion Indians are below the age of 35. With a gigantic population that consists of youth, the aspiration levels of people are at an all time high. This combined with the fact that the buying power of people is increasing, is a positive signal for the luxury brands, as they can now aim at cashing in on the new genre of young Indian consumers who not only have the money to but these brands but are also willing to accommodate them in their consideration set.
The USP of a luxury brand is that it is only for a few set of people. These brands give a feeling of being exclusive. Indians, even though new to the concept, are fast catching up on the race to exclusively own a specific brand. The desire to be the only few to own a new Harley or the latest Gucci perfume has engulfed the minds of the prosperous Indian consumer. In short there is a shift in the way a consumer perceives a luxury brand and this will lead to more and more brands entering the Indian market and help the Indian consumer quench their thirst to be in the esteemed category of “exclusive owners”.