For years foreign brands have been put off by this country's high import taxes (up to 50% for watches) and its shabby retail environment (there are no upscale shopping streets and few malls). But today India is experiencing a mall-building boom, perhaps a response to the sharp rise of newly affluent consumersmany under age 25. Analysts at Bain & Co. predict that the luxury market could grow 25% a year over the next three yearsa far cry from the days when it was the exclusive preserve of Cartier-bedecked maharajas.
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Three of the six most often mentioned luxury brands in India are local and cater primarily to men. Survey respondents who were asked to name the most familiar brands off the top of their head listed menswear labelswhich can be explained by the fact that the majority of Indian women wear traditional saris. As foreign brands go, Swiss watchmakers have made the deepest inroads into this market, and only one foreign fashion labelGuccimade the Top 10.
What Is Park Avenue?
With so many Indian consumers still opting for the traditional sari, it's not surprising that menswear would be the fashion category leading the subcontinent into the world of luxury. There are other factors, like the climate, that explain the popularity of menswear brands like Louis Philippe and Crocodile. In India, shirts are considered outerwear, and these two brands are well-known shirtmakers. Other high-scoring local brands such as Park Avenue, Allen Solly and Reid & Taylor focus mainly on men's business and formal attire (although they do manufacture women's lines and traditional Indian clothing)which means they cater to special occasions like weddings, considered the most important social event in India. Wills Lifestyle, the smallest of the brands above, may be more familiar to local fashionistas because it is a major sponsor of India Fashion Week.
What consumers want:
High quality: 58%
Good reputation: 55%
High fashion: 50%
Percentage of affluent Indians who have heard of Marc Jacobs: 8%
Percentage who have heard of Yves Saint Laurent: 7%
Most Widely owned brands:
1. Park Avenue
2. Allen Solly
3. Reid & Taylor
American brand they are most interested in owning: Calvin Klein
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The most popular purchase is fragrancewhich can mean anything from a foreign brand to a local or custom-made scent. Most consumers who buy fragrance are responding to either the reputation of the brand or an advertisement they have seen. Thirty-four percent of respondents said they bought a particular perfume because it was expensive.