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A Michelin-like guide for luxury

Luxortium, a consortium of luxury brands, aims to develop a luxury ecosystem in the country

The DLF Emporio mall in Delhi. Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint
The DLF Emporio mall in Delhi. Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint

India is one of the fastest growing luxury markets in the world. But it is still in a nascent stage. According to a February report by industry lobby Assocham, the Indian luxury market is set to grow from $23.8 billion (around 1.6 trillion) last year by 26% to $30 billion by the year-end, on the back of “growing exposure of international brands amongst Indian youth and higher purchasing power of the upper class in tier II and III cities".

Market research company Euromonitor International in a report in February, “Luxury Goods In India", said that demand is expected to remain strong in India as the luxury goods industry continues to evolve.

But while the luxury industry is growing, there isn’t one underlying thread that binds all the stakeholders together. “That is the platform we want to create with Luxortium," says Swapan Seth, founder of the by-invitation-only consortium of select top management and leading marketers of luxury goods and services. “We want to develop a luxury ecosystem in the country, where brands can cooperate to operate even while they compete with each other."

There is a need for continued dialogue between luxury brands because they feed off each other. That is what Luxortium aims to provide through “CEO’s Only Breakfasts" and “Executive Roundtables" kind of events. “At the end of the day, an American Express is as important for DLF as DLF is for American Express. It is a symbiotic relationship," says Seth, who has tied up with brands like American Express, Reliance brands, DLF and BrandsWeLove.

“Cross-brand collaboration is the new buzzword and a defining feature for cultural aggregation and value creation," says Deepa Misra Harris, founder, BrandsWeLove. Aparajita Jain, director at Delhi-based art gallery Nature Morte, says the platform is not just about luxury products. “It is about understanding consumer behaviour. I think a platform like this is needed to start a conversation that will help us understand customers better," says Jain.

India has a rich history as a market for luxury products. In the early decades of the 20th century, the country accounted for nearly 20% of Rolls-Royce’s global sales. The Patiala Necklace, commissioned by Maharaja Bhupinder Singh in 1926, remains Cartier’s largest single commission till date. And it seems that after a prolonged period of sluggish growth, following the economic crisis of 2008, brands are taking notice of India. In May, Florence-based watchmaker Officine Panerai opened its second Indian boutique in Delhi. In the same month, Montblanc opened two boutiques in Chennai. In April, French shoemaker Berluti also marked its debut in India. In such an environment, it becomes important to have an agency that can set benchmarks, represent the interest of all stakeholders and influence decision making.

“Why do people go by Michelin star ratings? Because that is a form of approval," says Seth. “And currently in India there is no rating company for luxury. That is what Luxortium will become. An independent luxury rating agency of sorts."

Luxortium, which will launch later this month, is starting as a business-to-business platform, but Seth says it will add consumer-centric features over time.

“We have the potential to be the centre of affluence for the Asia-Pacific region," says Seth. “And it is within this environment that an active luxury body could become a catalyst for new ideas, quicker growth and shared learning."

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