Luxury brands are making their presence felt at India's domestic airports to capture the attention of business travellers. After all, according to experts, footfalls are high, as is brand visibility.
Montblanc is the latest luxury brand opened a boutique at a domestic airport. The brand's first store opened in Hyderabad recently. The luxury goods brand is stocking its full range, right from writing instruments to watches as well as small and large leather accessories.
Talking about the brand's decision to launch at the Hyderabad airport, Vishakha Doshi, who handles marketing and communication for Entrack, the exclusive distributors of Montblanc in India, says they jumped at the opportunity when it was presented to them. "Montblanc came to India in 1997, and there was a dearth of viable retail space. Since then, Montblanc has expanded at five-star properties and high end malls across the country. So when airport space was offered to us, we jumped at it," she says, adding that opening at an airport meant great footfalls.
Amit Arora, MD at Buddy Retail, a company that helps brands lease space at India's airports, is more cautious about the success of luxury retail at airports. He recently told the Economic Times that there was a 'market for semi-luxury goods and low indulgence categories like fragrances, liquor and pens, which cost less than Rs 10,000'. However he did add that it would take another 10 years to take off.
But Doshi isn't really worried slow growth or that categories like perfumes and liquor are bigger sellers. "Those are quick pick-ups. The Montblanc store is a full-fledged boutique, where purchased require a little more thought. Also, the business traveler is important to us," she explains.
In the times that the store has been open Doshi says the feedback has been positive. "People are making an effort to walk into our store. In fact, some customers have said that they're glad not to make the journey into the city to a five-star to shop," she explains.
Yashovardhan Saboo, who's Ethos Watch Studio stocks brands like Tag Heuer, Longines, Omega and Hermes and has outposts at the Mumbai and Delhi domestic airports, says they're high on traffic and visibility, which is great if that's what a brand is looking for. "The airport is a convenient place to buy something on the move, especially for the business traveller. Typically he's short on time but has some at the airport after check in and possibly doesn't want to shop at home," says Saboo.
But he too cautions that purchases will be made up to a certain price point, and that products that offer an entry into luxury will do best. "All retail has to evolve in India. Travel retail especially, is not ready for very high end luxury, because people want time, and the experience," Saboo explains. His growth analysis, however, is more upbeat that Arora's. Saboo says, "That said, there have been great changes in the last five years. Delhi airport five years ago was an ordeal; today it's reached an international level. Some creases need to be ironed out, but overall the airport authorities have done a good job. Figures are strong in luxury travel retail."
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