Quiet luxury over opulent display: How niche brands are making inroads in India?

Luxury brands have been relying on digital channels and are following the ‘less-is-more’ philosophy to reach their target groups, share industry players

by Kanchan Srivastava
Published - February 19, 2024
5 minutes To Read
Quiet luxury over opulent display: How niche brands are making inroads in India?

From experiential luxury to high-end cars to wristwatches and jewellery, India’s growing luxury market is being driven by an expanding aspirational upper middle class, increasing disposable incomes, and a shift towards experiential consumption.

While global brands like Gucci, Dior, Armani, Prada and Chanel entered India’s markets a few years ago, several home-grown brands have also emerged in this category. Tanishq, for instance, has a 16 per cent market share in the luxury segment, which is far bigger than Dior (3%), Chanel (2%) and Gucci (2%), as per Statista.

A pivotal moment for the luxury landscape in India occurred with Dior's pre-fall 2023 show in Mumbai in March 2023, described by Vogue as a "coming-of-age" event. The event has fuelled a growing interest in luxury among India's local clientele, says luxury brand consultant, Harsh Mann, Founder and Director of HMLC.

Bloomberg forecasts that 1.66 million people in India will possess a net worth exceeding $1 million by 2027, making it an appealing destination for high-end labels, Mann shared.

Subtle is the way

Asthana defines luxury marketing strategy as “quiet luxury", which emphasizes a subtle and authentic experience over extravagant displays. “Brands follow ‘less-is-more’ philosophy, allowing creators to concentrate on essential elements without unnecessary embellishments," he explains.

“Marketing in the quiet luxury space often involves storytelling and emphasizing the authenticity of the brand. Communicating the brand's heritage, values and craftsmanship behind the products becomes crucial in creating a genuine connection with consumers. This has direct implications for the kinds of creative assets and content pieces that are developed either natively or with influencers.”

“Our marketing strategy unfolds as a narrative of credibility building, experiential engagement, and awareness creation. We take a step-by-step approach to ensure that our unique product is not only recognized but also trusted in the competitive audio industry,” says Navajith Karkera, CEO & Co-Founder of Rapture Innovation Labs. The home-grown audio-tech startup is known for its premium headphone Sonic Lamb Headphones.

To increase the trust factor, brands are also leaving no stone unturned to showcase their commitment for sustainability and other social causes.

Luxury buyers don’t want their relationship with brands to be purely transactional. They also stand out for wanting brands to run customer communities and forums, suggesting these consumers want a connection and active engagement with the brands they buy from.

Chanel, for instance, has launched a community page @welovecoco on Instagram. The account is designed to feature user-generated content created by Chanel lovers and includes tutorials and inspiration for makeup looks.

Digital driving growth

One of the key drivers behind this growth is the unique marketing tactics by luxury brands. Luxury brands are leveraging digital platforms, mainly social media and influencer marketing, and immersive experiences at flagship events to connect with their target audience, say marketers.

“Digital channels don’t just provide the highest ROI but also offer precise targeting, allowing luxury brands to reach high-net-worth individuals efficiently,” shared Gopal Asthana.

According to Asthana, “The social media, influencer collaborations, and online advertising enable personalized interactions. This aligns with the exclusive and aspirational nature of luxury goods. While traditional mediums like TV and print maintain a certain prestige and provide mass reach, their ROI may be harder to measure in comparison.”

Kiran Ranga, Managing Director, Ripple Fragrances, shared similar sentiments, “The digital medium has proven to be our most lucrative channel in terms of ROI. Given our extensive network of 5,000 outlets under IRIS, we recognize the challenges of mass media penetration and the associated high costs. Consequently, we have strategically utilized digital platforms, online channels, targeted lifestyle publications, and even insertions in inflight magazines to reach our audience effectively.”

“We believe that digital advertising, combined with expert validation, experiential events, and the power of influencer and social media outreach will establish our brand as a formidable player in the market”, says Karkera.

Customized offerings for Indian market

India’s luxury market is poised to grow to a hefty Rs 82,186 crore by 2027, up from Rs 53,561 crore in 2022, according to Euromonitor International projects. The largest segment in this market is Cosmetics & Fragrances.

“A remarkable characteristic of the luxury market is its resilience to inflation. Besides, global brands have customized their offerings and marketing strategies for the Indian audience. Examples include Louis Vuitton's introduction of a Rani Pink line, and Bvlgari unveiling the mangalsutra in response to the unique tastes and preferences of the Indian clientele,” says Somdutta Singh, Founder and CEO Assiduus Global Inc and LP Angel Investor.