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Retailers Change Language of Luxury to Woo Nouveau Riche

  By TNN   Mar 13th 2012 at 12:30PM Lifestyle RATED

Priya Sachdev Chatwal, who sells international luxury brands such as Alexander McQueen, Lanvin and Stella McCartney brands in India, sometime last year noticed that several new visitors looked lost in her multi-brand chain Kitsch.

So she hired some stylists at her Mumbai outlet to guide such customers through different brands, styles, and combinations, fashion trends that suit them, and instructed her staff to talk to them in local dialect if that makes them more comfortable. It proved a masterstroke. It helped her nurture many customers who are among her top clients today.

A growing band of nouveau riche with an urge to splurge on luxury lifestyle is forcing retailers to redefine luxury marketing in the country by getting staff to converse in local dialect and adopt homely etiquettes.

"Luxury cannot afford to intimidate," says Chatwal, chief operating officer and creative director of TSG International Marketing, which runs Kitsch.

This new class of luxury consumers is not necessarily aware of the trends emerging out of the fashion houses in Paris and Milan and, often, picks up the costliest item off the shelf partly because they cannot tell between labels. They find the opulence of shops in five-star hotels and English speaking salespersons intimidating.

Realising this, luxury retailers are stepping out of starred hotels on to the street-side malls, hiring people who can converse in the local dialect and training staff afresh in retail etiquettes to make customers feel at home and educate them on brands. 
"You have to accommodate the rich and the new rich under the same roof," says Chatwal. And that's perhaps the biggest challenge for luxury retailers in India.

retailers change language of luxury to woo nouveau riche
Rich and Confused

While there is one set of clients that flies to Champs Elysees in Paris to pick up their favourite totes and clutches from Louis Vuitton's flagship store, there is the other who wants to buy "that thing" Aishwarya Rai Bachchan wore in a recent Bollywood flick.

"Which language to converse in is a key decision that the store staff needs to take, quickly," says Nikhil Mehra, VP at Genesis Luxury, which represents brands such as Canali, Jimmy Choo and Bottega Veneta, and has a JV with Burberry in India. Prof Abraham Koshy, professor of marketing at IIM-A, says the two sets of consumers will co-exist.

The luxury market in India is growing at 20 per cent a year and is expected to expand to $14.7 billion by 2015, from $5.8 billion currently, according to a recent report by The Economic Times, CII and AT Kearney. "The nouveau rich consumer is more ostentatious in his behaviour and luxury products allow him to make a statement," says Prof Koshy.

In other news, find out what the women behind the luxury business in India are up to.

Author: Ravi Teja Sharma

 

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