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Pratishtha Rana

The onset of the festive season this month raises some pertinent questions about the Indian luxury industry that is still working its way through the global pandemic. The last few months have seen dull sales and lacklustre demands. But as businesses start opening up, the hope to regain luxury consumers’ lost confidence is at an all-time high among business owners.
Do the upcoming festivals and weddings hold the same charm and zeal for the buyers in India as it always did, and are luxury brands ready to capture the market with their new strategies and exciting offerings? We find out…
Payal Singhal, Fashion Designer
“The business this season will be different from all the years considering the restrictions still imposed for the lockdown and the lack of events to go to. Considering the high demand for slow fashion, made-to-order would be the ideal way to go for designers as everyone is still holding previous season’s inventory due to lack of sales. The demand now is more ‘need-based’ rather than ‘want based’; customers are also looking at prêt outfits due to the work-from-home culture. For the upcoming festivities/celebrations, the focus has shifted to more versatile outfits that have higher wearability. With most of the summer weddings postponed to the end of the year, we are expecting a recovery in sales. We are also working on a new collection for the festive season, keeping in mind what the customer is expecting in the new normal. We are hoping that sales pick up towards the end of the year.”
SVA by Sonam and Paras Modi
“Given the strange times that we live in, this year’s festive season is not going to be very festive for the luxury industry. The essence of luxury shopping is in the feel of products, but, this experience has changed altogether. Covid-19 has drastically reduced the presence of brick and mortar stores and we are adapting to new ways of online commerce. This festive season we are in facilitating shopping for our clientele via video call shopping on WhatsApp and Zoom and contactless and hassle-free deliveries. For some October weddings, we are gradually getting orders for bridal pieces. There are a few ongoing orders for ready to wear pieces as well. We are expecting the demands to pick up towards the end of this year, mostly post Diwali. Currently, we are directly in touch with our customers on a one-on-one basis, which earlier was not always possible. Since everything is going to be intimate now, the number of orders may have reduced, but we are optimistic that things will change for good soon.”
Tanisha Rahimtoola Agarwal, Founder, Curato
“When it comes to luxury, people generally are less inclined to shop online, especially in India, as it is all made to measure, which makes it difficult without human interaction. I think the luxury clothing industry will slow down this festive season because there is apprehension to shop for large ticket items online. But, with the start of the festive season, people have bought some lower ticket items, and are also loving personalization, like customised wallets, brooches, and even outfits. As we’re launching our online store, I expect to have a clearer idea of what interests the consumers through the data available. The time is ripe to offer discounts and allow them to interact with products from the safety of their homes. We’re enlisting stylists’ assistance as well, to interact with them for tailored services that will meet their needs. We’re also dropping collections every two weeks, to keep the excitement alive. Hopefully, around October, demand will pick up and the tension will ease”
Balbir Singh Dhillon, Head, Audi India
“Traditionally, the festive season has been a strong sales period for the auto industry. We already see positive customer sentiment in the luxury car market and anticipate it to become even stronger with the upcoming festive season. However, for a year-on-year perspective, we see growth starting from the year 2021 onwards. The prime attraction for our buyers this festive season will be our recently launched products – Audi A6, Audi A8 L, Audi Q8 and Audi RS 7 Sportback. Of course, adding to this cheer will be our upcoming crackling launches too. We also anticipate the pre-owned car business to further pick up steam during the festive period. Audi India’s pre-owned car business: Audi Approved: plus has seen growth in 2019 and we expect this growth to continue in 2020.”
Sitanshi Talati-Parikh, Brand Head (Creative), Her Story 
Sitanshi Talati Parikh, Co-head, Her Story
“We’ve seen positive signs of consumers gravitating towards making purchases for special occasions. They have been gearing up for wedding shopping as well. We are experiencing daily inquiries via our active touchpoints and a high volume of virtual appointments.  As we offer exclusive use of the boutique for our customers, in line with the strictest safety standards, we’ve found that our clients are very comfortable visiting the store. Recently, a bride-to-be along with her close family spent an entire afternoon in an intimate shopping at Her Story boutique, picking the jewels that best captured her spirit. For Rakshabandhan, a charm bracelet in rose gold and uncut diamonds from our Poetry in Motion collection caught the eye of a brother who felt it captured the fun and vivacious spirit of his younger sister.”  
Sanjana Patel, Co-Founder and Executive Chef, La Folie
“The F&B industry faced a massive setback due to the lockdown and is still bearing the repercussions of it. However, it isn’t necessary that people will stop celebrating festive days and occasions, especially in India. Quality will certainly get first priority. My goal for La Folie this season is to offer the same, high quality, authentic products that we always do. People have learned to cherish the moments they get to spend with their family and that makes me think that while the overall demand is likely to reduce in Mumbai (and India) we are also more likely to notice people shift towards gourmet foods and sweets, given those brands meet their expected quality standards. The new age, young consumers live in the present. The work hard all day long and they will not hesitate to go the extra mile to get something that makes them happy. Through the lockdown, we’ve moved our activities online and we continue to curate the same experience for someone who wants in on the magic of chocolate! From a single chocolate bar to a grand hamper, every product is handcrafted with utmost passion and we’re always looking to create new flavours that might appeal to our consumers.”
Aditi Handa, Co-Founder and Head Baker, Baker’s Dozen
“We at The Baker’s Dozen always consider our customer’s expectations as our utmost priority. For the current festive season, we are looking at product ranges that are more ready to eat across a varied taste palette such as Indian and European flavours. This will provide a variety of options for the customers to choose from. Customer sentiment is muted currently for dine-in but definitely increasing for delivery options gradually. I feel that the demand will definitely pick up. It may not be as high as last year, but definitely higher than today.”
Ahmed Farid, Co-Founder, Hurrem’s
“At Hurrem’s, we believe that food acts as a device of social technology, bringing people together, and we do see F&B experiences being at the core of the celebrations in the new normal. Numerous individuals may not be able to celebrate with their friends and family, but, I believe that gifting will see a rapid rise. This year’s festive season is going to be our first since we opened doors in November 2019, and we are optimistic about business in the upcoming months. After having missed out on celebrations for almost five months now, consumers are looking to get back to normal and the first step to regain this is through the festive season. I feel the focus on the wedding and gifting is going to increase. For this, we will be offering a range of customised luxe hampers that can be tailored as per individual requirements. We are delivering authentic Turkish delicacies to the consumers’ doorstep during this time. Keeping in mind their safety and ours, we have micro-sanitised our entire premises and have been virtually audited by Euquinox Labs and received a high hygiene rating of 92.86 per cent.”
Jatin Ahuja, Founder & Managing Director, Big Boy Toyz

Jatin Ahuja, Founder & Managing Director, Big Boy Toyz,

“Pre-owned has never been dependent on the festive season. Pre-owned market is all about accouching a quality product at the best price. Preferences have evolved with time and the demand for service vehicles has grown substantially. We’re selling more of Mercedes, Bentley, Range Rover, as they are available at a competitive price to our customers. Soon, the space for BMW 3 and 5 series, Mercedes E-Class and C-Class will grow as well. We aspire to advance our stock and attempt to get as many ostentatious cars on our website. During this festive season, we aim to deliver happiness to our consumers’ doorsteps across the nation within seven days.”

Harit Rajendra Zaveri, Managing Director, Harit Zaveri Jewellers and RBZ(Antique Manufacturing)

“Our definition of luxury has changed drastically and hence, our approach will focus more on emotions and consideration of the occasion of purchase. People are buying only what is absolutely necessary, and our goal is to give them exactly what they need. Weddings and other similar occasions are the major shopping areas for the buyers, while leisure gifting has not been in demand as of now. We’ve been making sincere progress through digital media as well. For a tasteful clientele that prefers aesthetics and art, they get their jewellery customised, even if it is a smaller ticket purchase. For us, it is not about attracting consumers. It is the relationship that we share with our customers and their faith in us.”
Sameer Seth, Partner, Hunger Inc. Hospitality Pvt. Ltd

Sameer Seth, Partner at Hunger Inc. Hospitality Pvt. Ltd. (5) pic courtesy Tejal Pandey DSC_6906x

“For Bombay Sweet Shop, it has really been about bringing back the magic of mithai. We opened in the beginning of March this year, but had to halt our business 2 to 3 weeks later because of the lockdown. But, after opening again, the response from the customers has been heartwarming. We introduced Care Packages on our website (www.bombaysweetshop.com) for people to show love and care to each other during this time. For the festivities, we did a few Rakshabandhan-special collections and have exciting offers lined up for Ganesh Chaturthi, Diwali and other occasions. Each box at Bombay Sweet Shop has been double sealed to ensure safety and it comes with an instruction card. The staff, too, has had lots of training to follow precautionary measures. We successfully concluded one of our Instagram lives recently with great engagement, where the viewers could see the process of making Rakhi-speical mithais. A month ago, we even catered to a lockdown wedding and sent our food preparations to around 25 houses in Mumbai. Seasonality is of significance to us, so, you will keep seeing new ideas come out of our kitchen.”

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