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JWT releases first ever study on Luxury brands in India

According to the study, 'Creating a sense of distance' is the key to long-term success of a luxury brand

BestMediaInfo Bureau | Delhi | November 28, 2011

A Franco-Indian research project on ‘Communicating Luxury to the Affluent Masses’, between JWT Mumbai and the French Grande Ecole, ESC Dijon-Bourgogne presented their initial findings at the ‘Private Label Forum’ of the World Brand Congress in Mumbai on November 25th, 2011. The objective of the study was to gain a deeper understanding of ‘How luxury brands can retain exclusivity whilst marketing to a wider audience’.

The online survey was targeted to consumers between the age group of 25-45 across India, who had indulged in luxury shopping in the preceding 6 months of the survey. The survey found that only 43% of respondents agreed that luxury brands are of significant higher quality than non-luxury brands. The paper explains three phases in the evolution of the market: luxurification, de-luxurification and re-luxurification. It suggests connoting a sense of ‘distance’ as being the key to building long terms brand success.

Glyn Atwal, Professor of Marketing at ESC Dijon said, “The luxurification of Indian consumer society means that consumers are now developing brand preferences. The challenge for luxury brands is to decode the aspirational DNA in order to connect with the Indian luxury consumer.”

He further adds, “A striking example is within the jewellery sector. Jewellery is still valued as an investment but it is also about aesthetics and design. It also reflects the spirit and personality of the owner. Jewellery brands evoke very strong emotional and symbolic values.”

Shaziya Khan, VP and Executive Planning Director at JWT, commenting on the study said, “Luxury brands need to retain the aura of prestige and exclusivity. Luxury brands have a range of techniques to evoke a sense of distance. This will give luxury brands a sustainable competitive advantage.”

An important and paradoxical revelation of the research study was the process of deluxurification in India. According to Khan, “As luxury brands reach out to newer affluent and aspirational consumers, luxury brands risk eroding their brands perceived exclusiveness. Luxury brands can reach out to the affluent masses but they need to retain the aura of prestige and exclusivity.”

The study concludes that luxury brands need to consider a strategy of reluxurification. Khan further adds, “This is about creating a sense of distance. If something is within reach, you don't value it as much as you value something that is far from you or beyond you."

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