India’s policymakers may be grappling with pockets of concern in the economy as the country seeks to step on the growth accelerator, but there’s one segment which has been taking rapid strides over the past few years. India is now the preferred destination of many of the world’s topmost luxury brands which see it as an immensely profitable market for the future. Thanks to a surge in exposure through foreign travel, media and home entertainment, today’s Indian consumer wants the very best the world has to offer and, in many cases, has the big bucks to afford these luxuries. Whether it is in the form of cars, watches, apparel, hotels, fine dining or personal care, the upwardly mobile Indian consumer has become the toast of the biggest brands in the world. Not surprising then that India’s luxury market is, according to a 2014 KPMG study, expected to stand at $14 billion in 2016, clocking a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18 percent between 2013 and 2016. From chocolates to footwear and even chartered aircraft, Indians are showing an increasing urge to splurge.
Yes, there are some hiccups to growth and the aggregate wealth of the 100 richest Indians in the Forbes list has remained flat this year, but there is a growing army of younger, good-life-hungry consumers who will likely provide a boost to the luxury market in the coming years. “The growth of the Indian luxury market is driven by an ever-increasing base of ultra high-net worth households (HNHs), which is likely to grow at a CAGR of 27 percent through 2017-18. The luxury space was once defined and limited by the preferences of these ultra HNHs, including only the most elite and bespoke products and services. However, in recent times, rising income levels and aspirations have led to a growing segment of potential luxury buyers beyond traditional luxury shoppers. These consumers are typically upper middle class aspirers looking to ascend the ‘consumption ladder’,” says the KPMG report. As we enter the festive season, our Luxury Special Issue aims to capture this growing trend, and bring you some of the latest offerings in the spanking new world of uber luxury in a modern India where the upwardly mobile consumer is no longer shy of demanding the best in class.
We also bring you the first-ever Forbes listing of Asia’s Richest Families. These 50 families, the wealthiest in Asia, make for compelling stories on how wealth has been created and passed on through generations. In keeping with the growing clout of India in Asia and the rest of the world, this inaugural list has as many as 14 Indian families in it, the most from any jurisdiction. Four of them are part of the top 10.
We hope you enjoy reading this issue as much as we enjoyed putting it together.
Editor, Forbes India
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(This story appears in the 13 November, 2015 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)