Tapping India’s burgeoning luxury market, highend luxury brands have stylishly arrived to satisfy the country’s lust for all things luxe. Interestingly, the Indian luxury market is estimated to touch the $30 billion mark by 2015. Adding plausibility to this statistic is the fact that India has been voted as the 4th largest market for Rolls Royce, the legendary luxury carmaker! It’s true; international luxury giants are queuing up to woo the upscale Indian customer. India has become brand conscious and its people are ready to invest in luxury brands. Obviously, the need for individuals who take care of the rise in demand for all things luxurious and its publicity has led to the creation of a new breed of careers in the field of luxury brand management. This career entails the responsibility of keeping the brand popular and simultaneously maintaining its exclusivity. According to Soumya Jain, Chief Editor and CEO, LuxuryFacts, an online luxury magazine, “The luxury market grew by 20% in 2010 alone (as per the 2011 CII-AT Kearney report). The recent recession didn’t affect the Indian luxury industry as much as it did the luxury markets in other, more mature economies like Europe and the US. These trends alone indicate how much the industry is set to treble in the years to come. The last five years have seen India’s luxury industry learning to stand up on its feet. It’s now going to gallop at a fast pace. Not to say that there are no obstacles in the industry. There are still many challenges. But with the rising affluence and entrance of more players in the industry, times are only going to get better.”
Brand management is a department that is vital to every company. But the luxury market, which was an almost nonexistent sector in India till a few years ago and has now taken over the status of a multi-crore industry, is yet a niche market. With price tags that scream extravagance, but with uncompromised quality, brand management of luxury goods is given utmost importance. It effectively requires an in-depth understanding of the brand’s history and heritage and also the ability to associate its iconic worth with a potential set of clients. Jain feels that luxury is a whole new world that centres around craftsmanship, design, utility, comfort and heritage.
As with any other career, starting early always tends to give one an edge above the rest and it is always desirable to gradually work your way up from the bottom. A career in luxury brand management requires a thorough understanding of the brand as well as the ability to network with niche market segments.
Enter the Opulence
A strong business management background coupled with functional experience in management practices are the qualifications required to make it into this industry. Simultaneously, gathering knowledge as well as interest in the luxury industry is always important for both you and the organisation. Further, since luxury brand management involves a high level of customer interaction, your PR skills should be well in place. Go in for a Diploma in Public Relations to enhance your networking skills. To do well in this high-flying industry, it also helps to have a natural flair for networking and the ability to build a rapport with concerned people. As far as India is concerned, given the rapidly accelerating affluence of the masses, the scenario is set to witness a boom. The ones who will be riding the wave will be the ones who’ve kept their ears open to each and every word of their every single customer. After all, in the luxury business, no marketer can afford the luxury of treating its consumers as a loosely bunched segment. It is important to remember that luxury houses follow a zero-tolerance policy for anything that is below average or of low quality. Thus, if you plan to work in this field, you will have to set a high standard for maintaining good customer relations and efficient time management skills.
If you have a passion for the luxurious, then a career in this industry will come as a natural. Being a relatively young industry. qualifications do not matter as much as the zeal to learn and be creative. While in India, courses can be found few and far between, they do help you to learn more about the industry. Depending on the kind of projects you are made to do, you also get to experience how various brands market themselves in varied ways. It certainly helps to learn about strategies used by the big names in luxury. You also have to be willing to be open and creative. “Luxury is a different ball game altogether – especially in India. What has worked for luxury brands in other countries, might not work in India. At times, many lessons that you’ve learnt have to be unlearnt. It’s all about learning as well as loving luxury, knowing your customer base well and always thinking about what new experiences you can provide them with. That said, courses and qualifications can only give you a small edge by giving you market knowledge,” explains Jain. Luxury brand managers must be in love with their product and believe that the company offers a value addition to its customers. It’s important to remain updated with the latest trends and forecasting with regards to luxury brands. Visit luxury stores to see what is working, what is not, what is selling and what’s not. Talk to people in this industry and get their take on the stance of different brands. This way, you will be able to remain abreast with the luxury industry.
A Degree In Luxury
However, if you really want to go head deep into the world of luxury, then opting for a course that solely deals with luxury brand management is the way to go. Currently, there are not many study options in India. The only direct course is the Global Management Program for Executives in Luxury Management at IIM, Ahmedabad, which has a tie-up with the renowned ESSEC Business School, Paris. The programme offers in-depth training and the implementation of strategies in this field. As part of this programme, participants also get a chance to train at ESSEC Paris where they will interact with faculty, alumni and luxury business houses, offering them a real-world experience. Abhishek Pai, Management Consultant, L’Oreal Enrich Hair & Skin Solutions says, “An MBA in international luxury brand management offers one a good standing and can perhaps increase your chances of securing a job in the luxury industry. Being well presented and extremely well spoken is a prerequisite to enter the luxury sector. Aspirants must be equipped with genuine industry knowledge, passion for the luxury and prestige sector, international language skills, a global approach and relevant business skills apart from having a striking and suave charisma and personality.”
If you plan to study this field abroad, it is important to look at universities in the UK, France and Italy. After all, these places are home to some of the best luxury houses in the world!
Today, luxury brands are spreading their operations far and wide, with India proving to be the most lucrative of the lot. Luxury fashion houses, custom motor makers, hand-crafted chocolates, signature pens and watches have long arrived on Indian shores. Job profiles in the luxury industry include brand managers operations managers and customer relations managers.
One can expect to handle the regional business expansion plans, organise events to market the brand, figure out appropriate brand, figure out appropriate brand ambassadors and develop promotional campaigns. After gaining much experience, many people also go on to start their own luxury brand management companies. Incentives, bonuses, travelling far and wide and networking with high-profile individuals also come as part-and-parcel of a career in this industry.